What is a No-Contest Divorce?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 31 January 2020
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A no-contest divorce is a dissolution of a marriage where the parties do not need to assign fault or wrongdoing. Instead, they file a petition for divorce, a judge grants it, and the marriage is legally dissolved, allowing both parties to move on with their lives. This approach is suitable for many people seeking to end a marriage and provides a rapid and cost-effective method for divorce, in regions where people are allowed to file a no-contest divorce.

Historically, people had to provide evidence when they wanted to end a marriage, and divorces could become very heated. The case would go to court, requiring the partners to testify about intimate specifics of the marriage for the judge to have enough evidence to grant the petition for divorce. This was often costly, as well as humiliating, for all parties involved, because private matters would enter the public record. The no-contest divorce provides a mechanism for handling divorces privately.


Each party to the divorce will need an attorney, or in some states, parties can self represent. Often, all parties meet together to discuss the divorce and prepare the petition. The divorce will become a matter of public record, but any details are not available to the public. People will not know why the couple divorced and will not learn anything about how they chose to divide their assets. One potential risk of a no-contest divorce for people concerned about assets is that they cannot use wrongdoing on the part of the other partner as evidence for an unequal distribution of assets.

This method for divorcing is most appropriate when both partners agree a divorce is the best solution for their needs and can handle the situation amicably. The no-contest divorce keeps proceedings reasonably friendly and can prevent acrimonious escalation of bad relations between the partners, because they do not need to be adversarial in court. This can be beneficial for friends, family, and children affected by the breakup of the marriage as well, because they will not feel the need to take sides or get involved in the breakup of the marriage.

People who want to pursue a no-contest divorce can discuss the matter with an attorney. It is important to be aware that the same attorney cannot represent both partners because this could create a conflict of interest. It may also help to meet with a mediator to discuss fair division of assets, child custody, and other matters of concern.


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