Skip to main content

Uncontested and Contested Cases: The Difference

Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

This short article explains the differences between contested cases and uncontested cases in civil lawsuits in Texas.

The civil litigation process moves forward differently depending on whether the parties are contesting the lawsuit or agreeing upon an outcome that needs to be formalized by court order.

What is an "uncontested" case?

Uncontested means that both sides agree on a desired outcome but are using the court system to make their agreement legally binding. These people may be required to have their agreement approved by a judge, or they may decide to do so as a way to help protect their interests. Uncontested cases can be successfully completed through careful research, attention to detail, and organization.

What is a "contested" case?

Contested means that the people involved in the case do not agree on what the outcome of the case should be. Contested cases require that both sides argue their position to explain why the law says that a judge should rule in for them.

Contested cases will generally require much more work than an uncontested case—even if the other side is not represented by an attorney. This is because you will need to learn trial strategy and prepare to clearly explain the way that the law applies to the facts of your case. And you will need to give this explanation while addressing the other side, who will be presenting an explanation of the law that challenges your explanation, arguing that it is only fair for the judge to rule in their favor instead of yours. 

If your case is contested and the other side is represented by an attorney, you should not try to represent your own interests during a trial unless absolutely necessary. Instead, contact us through TexasLawHelp chat for more information about other options for solving your legal problem.

What is a default?

The concept of "default" means that the other party has not participated in the lawsuit.

A “default judgment” is a court order made without the respondent because:

  1. the respondent was served and did not file an answer by the deadline, or
  2. the respondent filed an answer and was given notice of a hearing but did not show up for the hearing.

For example, a “default” in a divorce case means you have your spouse served with the initial divorce papers, but your spouse does not file an answer with the court by the deadline.

Related Guides

  • I want to set aside a default judgment.

    Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

    This guide explains how to ask the judge to set aside (cancel) a judgment made in a lawsuit if you did not participate.
  • Related Articles