Uncontested Versus Contested Divorce
So, what is the difference between an contested and uncontested divorce? The words seem simple enough, but leave it to the law to throw in a twist.
You see, it has nothing to do with one person wanting a divorce and the other not. What it has to do with is whether all issues have been resolved or if there remains a dispute. Whether it be asset division, debt division, custody, timesharing, child support or maintenance (commonly known as alimony), there are many categories and sub-categories in a divorce.
If, for example, the divorcing parties have worked out all issues and need an attorney to handle the paperwork, they are saving themselves a lot of time, money and aggravation. Please note though, that this does not mean that the attorney is representing both parties. That is a no-no. The attorney may only represent and give legal advice to the party that retains him/her.
A contested divorce is one where issue(s) have not been resolved and there will be time, energy, effort, discovery, negotiation, mediation and/or judicial determination involved. This is where divorces get more expensive and time consuming. This is not necessarily a bad thing or an indication of a failure on your part, it is just the reality that many divorces have issues that the parties cannot reach agreement on prior to filing. This does not mean they will not get resolved, they most likely will as a majority of divorce cases do not require a final trial where the judge decides on all of the issues. Very often, mediations prove successful in getting these divorces resolved.
In Kentucky, a divorce will cost $221.00 to file. That is what the court system charges, not the attorney. If the other side is served via sheriff or constable, there will be a fee of about $50.00 for that as well (varies by county).
What about the attorney? In a contested divorce situation, you are probably looking at a retainer of several thousand dollars. A retainer works as a credit balance or advance payment of fees. For example, if an attorney bills at $250.00 per hour and charges a $2,500.00 retainer, the client is paying in advance for the first ten hours worth of work the attorney does. The attorney bills against the retainer. If the retainer gets used up, there will be additional legal fees. However, in an uncontested situation, most attorneys around Central Kentucky will charge between $600 and $1000 as a flat fee to handle it. That means, if all issues are resolved between the parties, that is all you will pay (other than filing/sheriff fees for service).
Either of these begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution. That is what "opens" the action. From there, depending on the type of divorce and the particular facts and circumstances, the routes will vary widely.The road can be a confusing one. Make sure you have an attorney that has traveled it extensively.
Franklin & Rapp
1001 Monarch St., Suite 120
Lexington, KY 40513