/ Divorce / Contested v non-contested divorces

What’s the difference between a contested and a non-contested divorce?

A non-contested divorce is when both partners agree to it. 

A contested divorce is when one person wants a divorce but the other doesn’t. 

If your divorce is contested, you will need to have a hearing in front of a judge, who will decide if your divorce can be granted or not.


This guide outlines general topics you should be thinking about if you want to get a divorce in Northern Ireland. But it is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact a specialist divorce solicitor for advice on your specific circumstances.

What’s the difference between a “contested” and a “non-contested” divorce?

Divorces aren’t granted automatically if you apply for one.

If you want a divorce, but your partner doesn’t, they have the option to contest it.

A partner could object to a divorce for a number of reasons.

Common ones include:

  • They simply don’t accept the marriage is over
  • They might object to divorce for religious reasons
  • They might object to the divorce ground being cited
  • They might want to (or be able to) pay for the costs of the divorce
  • On rare occasions, some people just want to make things difficult for their former partner (out of spite or any number of other reasons).

Contested divorces have to go in front of a judge in court, who will listen to evidence from both parties, and decide whether the criteria for a divorce has been met.

Due to increased legal fees and court fees, contested divorces can become very expensive, very quickly.

But sometimes there is no other option. For example, if a spouse is unwilling to enter into serious negotiations regarding finances or children after a marriage has broken down, the other spouse may be forced to start the divorce application without their agreement.

In most cases though, if it is at all possible, it is best that any divorce applications are made with the agreement of both partners.

This makes it quicker, cheaper and less stressful for everyone.

The above article is part of our guide on how to get a divorce in Northern Ireland.

If you are thinking about getting a divorce, you should get in touch with a Northern Ireland specialist divorce solicitor who will be able to provide advice tailored to your own personal circumstances.

If you have any questions, you are very welcome to get in touch.

All the best,

The Team @ Lightlaw
Every effort is made to keep this guide up to date. Although it is not to be regarded as legal advice, we strive to make sure the information is helpful, accurate and practical. If you are a Northern Ireland divorce solicitor and have spotted an inaccuracy, you can submit a suggested change.
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