During an uncontested divorce, you and your partner agree about the issues affecting your divorce. After you have resolved all issues, there is no need to go to court. However, you will be required to file a marital agreement and court forms that show the agreements you have made on pertinent issues such as division of property, division of debts, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony, and many of the other issues arising during a divorce. Your divorce should be approved by a judge. Unless the terms on the marital settlement agreement are unfair to one party, or were agreed upon under duress, the judge will approve the uncontested divorce.
A Lawyer’s Role In An Uncontested Divorce
The first and most important role of a lawyer in an uncontested divorce is filing all the documents in court. This means you are guaranteed all the paper work will be filled accurately and correctly, allowing the court to resolve the divorce quickly. In fact, with the representation of a lawyer, it is possible to finalize an uncontested divorce without having to appear in court.
While uncontested divorces are less likely to expose a lot of your private information to the public, there are cases where this can happen. With a legal representative, you are assured that your information remains confidential. Your lawyer can take measures such as filing your divorce under seal to ensure that no information is leaked to the public. Your lawyer will also reduce the number of people involved in the divorce which is known to complicate matters.
One of the crucial duties of an attorney is to advice you and to draft the settlement agreement. Issues such as division of assets, child custody, and visitation are some of the things that are decided upon in a divorce. Your lawyer will advice you about the terms that are fair and will draft a settlement arrangement that will be served to your spouse with the final agreement filed in court for approval.
The Process Involved In An Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is a viable option for couples who have no disagreements regarding basic issues such as property division, spousal support, and child custody. An uncontested divorce is initiated when one spouse fills out divorce forms. The forms are then filed with the county clerk and served to the other spouse. Failing to serve the divorce forms correctly means you will have to repeat the process again and this will cost you another filing fee.
After your spouse has been served, they are required to file a response. This may simply mean signing the papers that you have prepared. After the response is filed, depending on the state where the divorce is being conducted, the attorney for the spouse filing for divorce will be required to prepare a settlement agreement.
The spouse filing for divorce will serve the other side with the settlement agreement and negotiations will begin based on the terms of the agreement. After both spouses are unanimous on all the terms of the divorce, the settlement will be forwarded to court for approval. However, if the other spouse disagrees with the terms and makes the required court filing, the uncontested divorce will not be allowed.
Advantages of An Uncontested Divorce
One of the main benefits of an uncontested divorce is the reduced cost. Although it is advisable to hire a lawyer, the low attorney bills and court costs make it more preferable than going to court.
Undisputed divorces are also granted much faster than disputed divorces. There are usually fewer court proceedings and legal wrangles. The main purpose of the court is normally to either approve or disapprove a settlement agreement.
Since uncontested divorces have fewer requests for disclosing of information and fewer court proceedings, there are less opportunities for couples to disagree. When couples separate in peace with each other, it also makes it easier for them to raise their children and easier for the children to accept the divorce.
Information that is part of divorce proceedings is open for the public to see. Therefore, personal information regarding one’s offenses, financial status, and other private matters become public record in contested divorces. However, with uncontested divorces, less information is filed in court and so there is very little information that is in the public records. In this case, spouses who agree to an undisputed divorce are able to minimize the information that is available on public records.
Disadvantages Of An Uncontested Divorce
Experts’ advice couples with complex property arrangements and potential disagreements against opting for uncontested divorces. Furthermore, couples with children may also find it difficult to make custody and visitation decisions.
The main disadvantage with uncontested divorces is that there are no discovery procedures. During a contested divorce, discovery allows both spouses to request documentation and information from each other. This helps to uncover marital debts and assets. Withholding crucial information in a contested divorce can subject one to perjury or any similar penalties. Without the discovery process, one party in an uncontested divorce may not have sufficient information about their spouse’s income.
With insufficient information about your spouse’s income, an uncontested divorce may result in an arrangement that provides unfair alimony or child support. It may also result in unfair division of marital debts and assets.
Summing It Up
An uncontested divorce is an alternative of ending a marriage without a series of court battles. Although there may be court proceedings, they are few compared to the court hearings in disputed divorces. Apart from saving you court costs and attorney fees, uncontested divorces are also concluded faster when compared to contested ones. However, the downside of uncontested divorces is when high stake issues are concerned. In matters involving complete transparency of assets, income, and debts, opting for a contested divorce could result in unfair terms. Before you decide to go for an uncontested divorce, consult a lawyer for advice and assistance.