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The differences between contested & uncontested divorce in NH

How well a couple got along prior to divorce doesn't necessarily have an impact on how smooth their divorce proceedings will go.

Some couples with a long track record of agreement on every detail of their lives have ended up in a contested divorce, while others, who couldn't agree on the color of the sky during their marriage, are suddenly quite amicable during the proceedings.

It can be downright impossible to predict which path a divorcing couple will take: contested or uncontested.

Uncontested divorce

In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree to the terms of their separation. Here is a listing of the most common terms to be agreed upon.

Common terms

  • Division of assets and/or debts
  • Child custody
  • Child visitation
  • Child support
  • Alimony or spousal support

In New Hampshire, either or both parties can choose to divorce without proving any wrongdoing and there isn't a separation waiting period as in some states. When a couple chooses the path of an uncontested divorce, the process can happen outside the walls of a courtroom within a few months.

Contested divorce

In a contested divorce, couples cannot come to agreement on one or more of the common terms listed above. In that case, couples may choose from one of the following options:

  • Mediation| This is a necessary first step for couples who cannot come to agreement on the terms of their divorce. During mediation, couples receive assistance from an impartial mediator whose goal is to lead a couple to compromise.
  • Collaborative divorce| In this option, both couples obtain attorney's, but the pursuit of compromise avoids litigation.
  • Litigation| While litigation results in a clear decision, parties must follow the decision made by the judge assigned to their case.
  • Arbitration| An arbitrator, after being presented with both viewpoints, issues a decision that the couple must accept.

What many couples don't appreciate is that there are creative solutions that can benefit everyone and avoid costly litigation. Finding those creative solutions comes with experience, but it's harder to do without the willingness of both parties. Couples who decide to infuse some creativity into the terms of their divorce will be that much closer to the start of their new life. 

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