Some of the confusion results from not understanding what “contested” and “uncontested” mean. A “contested” divorce is one in which any one of the issues is not agreed upon by the two parties. An “uncontested” divorce is one in which the parties agree to all the issues – the parenting time for the children, decision making related to the children, division of assets, payment of debts and all the other issues in a dissolution of marriage case.
There is a wide variety of issues in any divorce, even one that is relatively “simple.” Some parties are not even in agreement about where (what county) their divorce should be filed. If there are any contested issues, the Court will require the husband and wife to attend mediation together, to attempt to reach agreement.
Mediation is a process in which the two parties (and their attorneys if the divorcing parties have hired them) meet with a neutral, trained third party who attempts to help the parties come to an agreement that will allow them to avoid going to Court. The mediator often (but not always) is an attorney who is knowledgeable about divorce law and also about the rulings of judges who may be presiding at contested permanent orders hearings. A permanent orders hearing generally is the final step in resolving a contested divorce.
Permanent orders hearings can be as short as an hour or they can last for a week or even longer. If the parties have retained (hired) attorneys, these hearings should be as short as possible, to keep the legal expense down.
In some cases, parties are able to resolve many – but not all – of the issues. This is helpful to the Court, because it reduces the time needed by the Judge.