What does uncontested divorce mean?
An uncontested divorce is a divorce decree that neither party is fighting. When both parties in a married couple agree to divorce, filing for an uncontested divorce can save time and money through streamlined court procedures. The couple must: Not have any financial disputes (such as child custody or alimony).
If you are new to divorce you may not realize it can be relatively easy and inexpensive. It doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out process and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse agree to all of the issues. The first step in working out an uncontested divorce is to figure out what terms are you non-negotiable on. My suggestion is to write up what issues you anticipate having and then marking which ones you know you are not willing to give on. At this stage, you would be well advised to speak to counsel to determine the issues and what’s are the general guidelines by the court. For instance, you may want $1,000.00 per month in alimony for your lifetime but you’ve been married for three years. The chances are slim to none that you will be awarded the alimony you want. Speaking with an attorney will prevent you from having unnecessary conflict and you will know what you can expect if you go to trial.
The issues may include the following, although this isn’t by any means an exhaustive list:
- Personal property
- Real property
- Credit card payment (list each card)
- Custody and visitation
- Life insurance
- Spousal support
- Child support
Once you have an idea of what your ideal situation would be it’s time to speak to your spouse. You also should know what areas you are willing to negotiate on to get the case resolved without spending many months and thousands of dollars in Court. You may want to give your spouse your proposal on the issue and ask for feedback. Then, the two of you go back and forth to see if you can reach an agreement you both can live with.
If you are stumped, it may be a good time to seek counsel again. If either of you are digging in your heels a neutral party may be able to help you gain clarity. For example, if you want your spouse to pay your Visa bill of $3,000.00 and they refuse to do so willingly your lawyer may be able to do a cost-benefit analysis. If it will cost more than $3,000 to file a contested divorce you are better off paying the Visa bill yourself. You can also seek counsel to see what the likelihood of the Court awarding your spouse what they want. For example, recently I represented a man whose wife wanted to move to the Midwest for a job (not even a very good job) and she wanted to take the children. I told him that the Court wouldn’t let her move in all probability and he stayed steady. She also spoke with counsel and found out this move most likely wouldn’t be sanctioned by the Court. We resolved the issues of child support payments and custody.
Once you and your spouse have exchanged terms several times and come to something you can both live with then you can go back to your attorney and have the papers drawn up. It may take a few rounds but you will be saving yourself a lot of money and heartache in dredging up your marriage before the Court. It’s definitely worth the effort in my opinion.