In the event you and your spouse decide to seek a divorce, you’ll need to agree upon a settlement. The settlement agreement will describe how you intend to split your marital assets and handle custody of your children. It will also define the terms of any spousal or child support paid by one party to another.
Ideally, you and your future ex-spouse will agree on the above items. If you do, you can seek an uncontested divorce. On the other hand, if there is any disagreement that cannot be resolved, you and your spouse may find yourself fighting over matters in court.
The two biggest advantages of an uncontested divorce are low cost and expediency. It costs much less than litigation and can be finalized more quickly. With that in mind, we’ll answer several questions below that divorcing couples tend to ask about this approach to ending their marriage.
“What Exactly Is An Uncontested Divorce?”
An uncontested divorce is one in which there is no quarrel between the parties about their marital assets, custody of their children, child support, and alimony. Both spouses essentially agree on all terms (or they at least refrain from contesting them).
Another feature is that neither party contests the divorce itself. Both parties are receptive to ending the marriage.
“I Have Kids. Can I Still File An Uncontested Divorce?”
Having kids does not preclude seeking an uncontested divorce. While children can complicate the terms of a settlement, it is still possible – and indeed, advisable – to avoid fighting over the terms in court.
If you and your spouse have kids, and disagree on custody and visitation rights, it may be beneficial to seek mediation before going to court. It’s cheaper and the results are likely to be more satisfying.
“What If I Don’t Know My Spouse’s Whereabouts?”
Many people assume they cannot proceed with a divorce in their spouse’s absence. In reality, not only are they able to do so, but doing so is relatively simple.
You may be required to run an ad in your local newspaper to give legal notice of your intention to divorce your spouse. You will also need to file a few extra papers to finalize your divorce. If your spouse fails to respond to your ad within a certain time frame (it varies by state), your request to dissolve your marriage will be granted.
“What If My Spouse Contests The Divorce?”
There is always a potential for a divorce to be contested. Many individuals who are served divorce papers by their spouses oppose ending their marriages. Or they might be open to getting a divorce, but dispute certain terms in the agreement, such as how the marital property is divided between the parties.
Oftentimes, the couple can still pursue an uncontested divorce by negotiating the disagreed upon terms. An experienced attorney can provide enormous value by helping his or her client move toward a resolution while ensuring the client’s needs are met.
The important thing to remember is that there are alternatives to litigation. Even if the negotiation process breaks down, the divorcing couple can seek mediation or arbitration.
“How Long Will It Take To Finalize My Divorce?”
If you and your spouse agree on all matters, your divorce might be finalized in as little as a few weeks. Having said that, much depends on meeting certain conditions and filing the right papers by the proper deadlines.
Contrast that to litigation, which can easily extend the time before a divorce is finalized to more than a year.
“Do I Need To Hire A Lawyer For My Divorce?”
Technically, you do not need to hire an attorney for an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse have few assets, no kids, and were married for a very short period, it is possible to seek a divorce without legal assistance. However, an attorney’s experience and advice can prove valuable, even when the terms of a divorce seem simple. He or she can ensure the proper documents are prepared and filed, and make sure his or her client is not being taken advantage of.
An important note: if your spouse has hired an attorney, it is in your interest to do the same. Don’t assume your spouse’s lawyer will treat both of you fairly. The lawyer’s job is to look after his or her client’s interests.
There are very few reasons to pursue matters in court. Doing so results in higher costs and unnecessary delays in completing your divorce. In addition, you may find the judge’s rulings to be disappointing. A much better option is to pursue an uncontested divorce and work to settle all matters out of court.