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What is the Difference Between an Uncontested Divorce and a Contested Divorce?

In general, an uncontested divorce is a type of divorce where both parties agree on all matters pertaining to the dissolution of their marriage, such as the division of matrimonial assets and custody of children. By contrast, a contested divorce is one where the parties disagree on these matters and each wishes to file his/her own claim.

Uncontested Divorce Contested Divorce
Location of the hearing
Proceedings can take place in the judges’ chambers, a private domain that is not open to the public.
Proceedings usually take place in open court hearings, where members of the public are permitted to attend.
Required documents
The Plaintiff (i.e. the spouse filing for divorce) must file his/her Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars

The Defendant (i.e. the other spouse) must file his/her Memorandum of Appearance, which is a document expressing agreement to the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars.

Both parties are to file their Agreed Parenting Plan for the parties’ children below 21 years old.

Both parties are to file their Agreed Matrimonial Property Plan, which details their agreed division of matrimonial assets.

Once these documents are filed, the parties would proceed to the hearings.
The Plaintiff must serve the Defence with a Writ of Divorce detailing the grounds of divorce.

The Defendant must file a Defence to challenge the Plaintiff’s Writ of Divorce.

The Plaintiff can then file his/her Reply to Defence to respond to the Defendant’s Defence.

Each party may file his/her own Proposed Parenting Plan for their children below 21 years old.

Each party may file his/her own Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan

Once these documents are filed, the parties would have to go through a Pre-Trial Conference before proceeding to the trial.
Length of proceedings
Generally proceedings for uncontested divorce are fast and efficient, with hearings lasting around 10 minutes.
Proceedings tend to be longer and more expensive, with hearings potentially dragging on for several days.

Privacy and Confidentiality
Since the proceedings of an uncontested divorce take place in Chambers, spouses would not have to suffer having their private matters disclosed to members of the public. By contrast, the proceedings of a contested divorce usually take place in open courts, where members of the public are allowed to attend.

Speedy Process and Lower Costs
Hearings for an uncontested divorce generally last for only a few minutes, as compared to a contested divorce for which hearings can drag on for several days. Accordingly, the legal fees payable for an uncontested divorce are significantly lower than that for a contested divorce.

Amicable process
While a contested divorce involves the highly adversarial process of litigation, an uncontested divorce can be resolved in private with the aid of a mediator. An experienced mediator would be able to facilitate open and effective communication between the parties, such that the divorce proceedings can be resolved amicably.

Ms Gloria James has been in practice for 22 years. In the course of her legal career, she has gained considerable experience and knowledge in mediation. Being a certified Associate Mediator at the Subordinate Courts of Singapore and the Singapore Mediation Centre, Gloria is able to assist her clients in achieving settlement even in highly acrimonious matters. Gloria is also endorsed by the Family Court of Singapore as a Collaborative Family Practitioner.

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