What Is a Moderately Contested Divorce?

People often think of divorce as either contested or uncontested. But the majority of divorces are actually a little of both.

Contested vs. uncontested: Divorce is not always black and white

Uncontested divorce is the term used when both parties in a marriage agree on the terms of their divorce settlement, including major issues like the division of marital property and custody of minor children. This kind of divorce is less complicated and takes less time to finalize than a contested divorce.

A divorce is contested when the parties do not agree to some or all of the terms of a possible settlement. These cases usually involve differences in opinion about how to divide marital assets or debts, child custody arrangements, spousal support payments, and other issues related to the dissolution of marriage. In a contested situation, it's not possible for both parties to come to an agreement and move through divorce proceedings without help from a third party, like an attorney or mediator.

But there are shades of gray between these two extremes. Moderately contested divorces are relatively common. They occur when a couple agrees on most issues, but there are still some areas that need further negotiation or mediation before the final marital settlement agreement can be drafted.

A highly contested divorce involves multiple major disagreements that require extensive legal intervention and time spent in divorce court. These divorces often take much longer to resolve.

Examples of moderately contested divorce

Joe and Amanda

Joe and Amanda have been married for eight years and agree on most aspects of their divorce settlement, including most property division issues. The sticking point lies in the joint ownership of their business. Amanda wants to keep the business in her name only so Joe won't receive any share of profits after the dissolution of marriage. Joe feels that he has put too much of his own blood, sweat, and tears into building up the business to be cut out completely.

Alice and Bob

Alice and Bob have been married for 10 years. Both agree on the majority of divorce terms, including the division of assets, child custody, and who will keep the marital home. However, they are unable to come to an agreement on who will keep the family pet, a beloved cat named Mittens. Bob is willing to pay Alice to keep Mittens, but she refuses to part with her longtime companion.

Read: Who Gets the Dog or Other Pet in a Divorce?

Can a moderately contested divorce case become uncontested?

When couples are divorcing, they often have a hard time resolving certain issues. Sometimes known as moderately contested divorces, these disputes have the potential to derail a divorce settlement if left unaddressed. The good news is, with the right guidance, couples can resolve their disagreements and move toward an uncontested divorce through mediation or collaborative divorce.


Mediation is an effective way to help couples talk through the terms of the divorce in a non-confrontational setting. It seeks to help parties reach a mutually satisfactory agreement on areas of disagreement by having each party explain their point of view and allowing the mediator to give impartial advice tailored to the situation at hand. In this sense, it's especially beneficial for spouses who need help communicating effectively and finding middle ground during negotiation.

Using our two fictional examples from above, mediation could be used to break down communication barriers between Alice and Bob regarding who will keep Mittens after their divorce is finalized. Similarly, it could be effective in helping Joe and Amanda come to terms with the division of their business profits when dissolving their marriage.

Collaborative divorce

Collaborative divorce is another form of dispute resolution for divorcing couples who want to remain out of court but have a hard time agreeing on all matters without help. Unlike mediation, which involves a neutral mediator, collaborative divorce involves trained lawyers representing each side as well as any other necessary professionals involved in the case. While both sides use legal representation during this process, they agree that no one will go to court. Instead, they work together outside the traditional courtroom setting until all matters are resolved amicably or mutually agreed upon by both parties before finalizing their divorce decree.

The advantage of this method is that it allows each spouse to maintain some control over important decisions, such as alimony and child custody agreements, rather than giving those decisions up to a judge or arbitrator who may be unfamiliar with the family’s needs or circumstances. Furthermore, collaborative divorce often lessens tension between parties since both sides must work together collaboratively instead of against one another in order for agreements to be made.

Read: What is Collaborative Divorce?

Can Hello Divorce help with my moderately contested divorce?

Yes. Hello Divorce offers support and guidance throughout the divorce process. We provide several online divorce options, including our mediation divorce plan. This plan includes mediation support to help you and your spouse work through your disagreements and reach a suitable resolution without the cost and time drain of litigation.

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Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.