Last Updated: April 29, 2022
Not all divorces need to be a mess with fighting, anger, and huge lawyer bills because the divorce lasted for 3-years. But being able to work amicably with your soon-to-be ex-spouse requires expert help that only a divorce attorney can provide. An uncontested divorce is sometimes called a divorce by agreement because both spouses agree to the dissolution of the marriage and the majority (hopefully all) of the terms of the divorce such as child custody, maintenance (alimony), and division of property.
- What Makes an Uncontested Divorce Work Well?
- Uncontested Divorce Help from an Attorney = a Smart Move
- Next Steps
What Makes an Uncontested Divorce Work Well?
An uncontested divorce (agreed divorce) is appealing to many people because it can be less stressful and emotionally charged. Divorces that are uncontested also tend to move along more quickly and be less expensive than contested versions. The former spouses can get on with their individual lives sooner and enjoy all that the future holds. Getting your separation to turn into an uncontested divorce usually requires being able to work together and requires leaving the emotions out of the equation. Having the divorce Judgment, Marital Settlement Agreement, or Custody Judgment (Parenting Plan) drafted and presented the proper way will ensure that the process goes smoothly and quickly before one spouse can decide to derail the process.
Uncontested Divorces Spare the Children
An uncontested divorce attorney knows that approaching touchy issues such as child custody in the right manner means the children will be spared from as much heartache as possible. Rather than hiring a child representative (a lawyer that represents children in divorce cases) and forcing the child to undergo interviews with a strange 3rd party, an uncontested divorce lawyer will provide the parents with a middle of the road settlement regarding custody and visitation (parenting time). When a divorce is contested, some judges or parents end up having their children undergo psychological evaluations which can costs a lot of money but more importantly, can make a child feel as though they have done something wrong. Uncontested divorces eliminate the interactions between children and save them the emotional toll that comes with a potential ugly process.
Uncontested Divorce Save Time and Money
An uncontested divorce might only involve 1-lawyer even, which saves thousands of dollars. For individuals with little or no assets, an uncontested divorce in some states might only take a week from beginning to end. This means that each party can move on to the healing process faster and in a healthier manner. Because both parties aren’t fighting, there is no need to stress about appearing in court multiple times or having to explain to your boss why you need to miss yet another work meeting because the court has scheduled another stressful hearing that you must appear for.
How Does an Uncontested Divorce Work?
To begin the process, one spouse must file initial divorce papers, usually called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If it is truly an uncontested divorce, the parties should have already decided (or be working on deciding) what they are going to do regarding dividing assets and debts, custody and parenting time for the children, and whether maintenance (alimony) should be paid to the other spouse.
An uncontested divorce lawyer will take these bullet point notes and put it together into a form agreement that might consist of 3-total documents: Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage; Marital Settlement Agreement; Parenting Plan (also called an Allocation Judgment or Custody Judgment). All 3-of these documents serve their own specific purpose but all of them go together as well to form what some people call their ‘divorce decree’.
Grounds for Uncontested Divorce?
‘Grounds’ is a legal term that describes the legal basis, that is required to be proven with evidence, for a divorce to proceed. In almost every single state now, grounds have been eliminated and divorces are granted on what is called ‘no-fault’ grounds (irreconcilable differences). Grounds, eliminated in almost every state now, were reasons such as: infidelity, mental or physical cruelty (abuse), or abandonment. These grounds were difficult and costly to prove in many instances, so they were eliminated to save people time, money, and fear of having to prove these in open court. Irreconcilable differences simply means that you two no longer get along, that past efforts at fixing the problems has failed, and that future efforts would not be in the best interests of the family. This is the basis for a no-fault divorce.
The Divorce Decree
The Judgment for Dissolution is essentially a court order that says the parties will abide by the terms of the other agreements (Marital Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan). The Marital Settlement Agreement deals with financial aspects of the divorce like property division, maintenance (alimony) or child support. The Parenting Plan (or Allocation Judgment) deals with issues such as parenting time for each parent, decision making abilities of each parent, and notification provisions for school related activities or health related events. This is not something that is tossed together across a few pages and accepted by a judge – this is a big deal and normally requires an attorneys assistance.
Finalizing the Uncontested Divorce
Once the Judgment is completed along the lines that the spouses have agreed, each party must sign showing their approval. The uncontested divorce lawyer would then ‘motion’ the court for a final divorce date (sometimes called a prove-up court date) and one or both parties might need to appear in court for a brief question and answer session in front of the judge. This is normally quite simple and a lawyer asks leading questions to which her/his client only needs to answer “yes” or “no”. Some states do not require a physical appearance by either party to complete an uncontested divorce which makes it even less stressful.
Uncontested Divorce Help from an Attorney = a Smart Move
Uncontested divorce help from an attorney will reduce the emotional upheaval that tends to occur during the divorce process. Each lawyer serves as the go-between for his or her client. Since the attorneys are not emotionally invested in the divorce, they are better able to pose questions and present issues in a way that does not incite the other party. This helps the couple to work through the most difficult issues without getting into a fight. A good divorce lawyer turns a marital relationship into a business arrangement so that the details can be worked out quickly and without emotions mucking up the gears.
Most couples who divorce, even those who have a relatively amicable divorce, want to get through the process as quickly as possible. An uncontested divorce features a limited amount of legal wrangling and proceedings, enabling them to wrap things up in a shorter time. Divorce is an uncomfortable situation on many levels but a divorce by agreement can limit the period of discomfort and speed the route to a new life.
Couples who are ready to end their marriages and are able to agree on all (or most) of the issues involved should explore the uncontested form of divorce in more depth. A free divorce consultation is provided by the vast majority of divorce attorneys for uncontested matters and usually only takes about 5-minutes to discuss the broad points. You don’t have to fight it out in court get professional help from an experienced uncontested divorce lawyer and save time, money, and heartache.