When going through a divorce, you’ll likely have two priorities: making sure that you get an optimum divorce settlement, and making sure that you get through the process as smoothly as possible. These two priorities are not necessarily mutually exclusive: It can be possible for a person to go through a relatively stress-free divorce and get a great settlement if they have a healthy and amicable relationship with their divorcing spouse. However, sometimes a person feels that they need to fight to get the settlement that they believe they deserve.

If you’re unsure about the path to getting a good divorce settlement given your situation, you’ll have a lot to consider. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether to pursue a contested or uncontested divorce. The following is an overview of the difference between the two and both the advantages and setbacks of each approach.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is a situation in which a couple is able to go through a divorce amicably, and without needing court intervention to decide on disputes. Successfully going through an uncontested divorce does not mean that you need to be best friends with your ex — it’s natural that you’ll still have disagreements in the process. However, you’ll use alternative dispute resolution techniques such as mediation instead of court intervention to reach a decision.

Uncontested divorces tend to be cheaper and less stressful than contested divorces. They also tend to be completed faster, and can still reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

What is a contested divorce?

A contested divorce means going through the court process to settle a divorce. While it’s necessary if you want to fight your ex so that you have a chance of getting the best possible outcome, it’s expensive, stressful and can take a long time.

If you are considering filing for divorce and you’re not sure what route to take, consider your goals and the relationship with your ex.