What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce occurs when both partners in a marriage agree upfront to all terms of the divorce, including alimony, child custody, and division of assets. This agreement means that no mediation, arbitration, or litigation is strictly necessary, since the partners have settled matters between themselves to their mutual satisfaction.
How does an uncontested divorce work?
In an uncontested divorce, a husband and wife agree amongst themselves to the terms of the dissolution of the marriage. In contrast, these details would be decided through litigation in court or with legal arbitration in the case of a contested divorce. Some of the aspects of the divorce that the partners would need to settle would be:
- Division of property and assets
- Spousal support, if any
- Custody arrangements (if minor children are involved)
- Settlement or division of debt
Once these issues have been decided upon to the satisfaction of both parties, the agreement is then filed with the court when the divorce decree is made official.
A divorce lawyer is still a necessity, even in an uncontested divorce. This individual is necessary to make sure that all paperwork is drawn up properly and that the terms agreed upon are legal and are officially documented with the court. However, the attorney is involved only at the end of the process assist in finalization of the divorce.
Why are the advantages to an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce can save a couple the time, energy, and financial drain of a drawn-out legal battle. If there are few assets or complications, an uncontested divorce may be the most sensible way to dissolve a marriage.
As long as both parties can be rational, respectful, and understanding, many divorces can occur without litigation. The husband and wife are often in the best position to determine the terms of the end of their marriage, not the lawyers. In an uncomplicated marriage, uncontested divorce can be simple and effective.
An uncontested divorce can be a fraction of the cost of a contested divorce. The couple might only incur the expense of the attorney who finalizes the agreement. In many cases, this is less than $1,000. In contrast, a divorce attorney may charge $300 per hour or more for a litigated divorce. This can quickly eat away at the very assets that are in contention!
An uncontested divorce is also a more private way to handle the dissolution of a marriage. With of the negotiations and the agreements happening privately between the couple involved, it is possible to keep the details of the divorce from being made public.
Finally, an uncontested divorce can also be a very quick way to settle the end of a marriage. Divorce is an unpleasant, painful event, and one that most people want to put behind them as quickly as possible. An uncontested divorce can allow both partners to move on as quickly as possible and with a minimum of angst.
Are there dangers to an uncontested divorce?
Although there are many benefits to an uncontested divorce, it is not an appropriate solution for every couple. In the event of a divorce with complicated financial issues or a very contentious relationship, both parties may be able to better protect themselves with a contested divorce.
If there are complicated financial matters, such as very high value assets, multiple real estate properties, or excessive debt, a contested divorce may be a wise option. A contested divorce gives both partners the protection of professional legal counsel to look after their best interests.
In addition, if children are involved and the custody situation is complicated, an uncontested divorce could be risky. Once the custody agreement is settled upon and filed with the court, it can be difficult to change. Having the more structured legal process of a contested divorce could provide necessary checks and balances to ensure that the agreement is fair and beneficial to both parents and children.
An uncontested divorce is also not wise for those in an abusive relationship or a very emotional state at the time of the divorce. It’s hard to think clearly and rationally in such a difficult and painful situation. Having an attorney who is impartial to the relationship and invested in your best interests in the settlement can be a safeguard against making impulsive decisions.
If both partners have tried to work things out among themselves and simply can’t agree, it may be best to turn to legal arbitration or mediation to complete the process. This could be a quicker and simpler way to finalize the divorce process than trying to continue an uncontested divorce once a stalemate has been reached.
Divorce is seldom easy, but it is possible to minimize the time, expense, and heartache involved with ending a marriage. You may want to consider an uncontested divorce as an option to resolve the end of a marriage with as little disruption as possible, freeing both partners to move on to the next stage of their lives.