Uncontested divorce vs Contested Divorce

Ending a marriage is never an easy decision. While a divorce legally dissolves the marriage, a legal separation is a court order that mandates the rights and duties of the couple while they are still married but living apart. Both arrangements separate the couple financially and provide legal oversight for child custody and support, spousal support and debt management. However, a divorce completely dissolves a marriage. If you’re having serious problems with your spouse, a divorce might seem like the only way to split off and protect your finances. However, a legal separation may offer the same protection as a divorce and in some cases works out better. There are personal and financial benefits to consider when determining which is right for you

Uncontested divorce

An uncontested divorce is a divorce where the couple has resolved all major issues.  An uncontested divorce offers benefits to couples that contested divorces do not. In some states, if you agree to all the terms of your divorce, you may never have to step inside a courtroom. In other states, you still have to go to court, but the uncontested divorce procedure in most states is much quicker than in a contested divorce.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is an alternative to divorce that allows couples to live apart while still remaining married. During a legal separation, spouses still need to agree on matters like custody, visitation, and support, just as they would in a divorce. However, unlike uncontested divorce, both parties remain legally married during a legal separation. The process for legal separation is fairly similar to that of uncontested divorce. Both spouses must agree on the terms of the separation, including child custody, support, and division of assets. Once an agreement is reached, the couple will file a Legal Separation Agreement with the court.

Differences Between Uncontested Divorce and Legal Separation

Legal Status

The most significant difference between uncontested divorce and legal separation is the legal status of the couple involved. Uncontested divorce terminates the marriage legally, whereas legal separation allows the couple to remain married on a legal level, even though they may live apart.

Asset Division

In an uncontested divorce, couples divide their assets and debts based on their agreement. In a legal separation agreement, the couple can divide their assets and debts in much the same way, but to a different legal status. While they remain married, their finances are considered separate from each other. During a legal separation, the couple remains married, which means there may be certain tax implications and benefits that may not be applicable to those going through an uncontested divorce.

Child Custody and Support

Child custody, support, and visitation are crucial considerations in both uncontested divorce and legal separation. In uncontested divorce, the parents reach an agreement on the child’s support and custody arrangements, while legal separation involves the same agreements, but the couple remains married.


After an uncontested divorce is finalized, both parties are free to remarry if they desire. This is not the case with legal separation, as the couple remains married on a legal level. If either party wishes to remarry after a legal separation, they must obtain a legal divorce.

Choosing Between Uncontested Divorce and Legal Separation:

Choosing between uncontested divorce and legal separation is dependent on each couple’s specific situation. A couple that wants to remain legally married but live apart can benefit from legal separation, whereas those who want to move on with their lives may prefer uncontested divorce. Seeking legal guidance and support can aid in the decision-making process and help ensure that the rights and interests of both parties are protected throughout the legal procedure.

In a nutshell, uncontested divorce and legal separation vary in legal status, division of assets, custody and support arrangements, and the ability to marry again. Which option is right for you will depend on your specific circumstances and goals. If couples wish to remain married legally but apart, then legal separation may be the best option. However, if both parties are ready to move on and dissolve their marriage, uncontested divorce may be the better choice. 

Understanding the differences between uncontested divorce and legal separation can assist couples in making an informed decision. Consulting with an Anniston divorce lawyer can also play a crucial role in making the right decision and guiding the couple through the legal proceedings that follow.