Yes, You Can Save Money and Divorce by Agreement
In order to prevent a long, expensive divorce, couples will often try to work out the details of their divorce on their own. This can be done with or without outside help, such as mediation or an attorney that specializes in collaborative law. When both spouses are able to come to an agreement on the major issues of the divorce, an uncontested divorce is possible. An uncontested divorce is essentially when the parties agree on all the issues required by law to go into a judgment for dissolution of marriage.
Major Issues in Divorce
Every marriage will have some common issues that cause problems during the negotiations. In most cases, these issues are:
- Custody Arrangements (if there are children)
- Child Support (if there are children)
- Spousal Support and Maintenance (also known as alimony)
- Property Division
- Asset Division
- Debt Division
If these issues are able to be settled between the party’s themselves, the couple will be able to file the divorce paperwork on their own or with minimal help from a divorce attorney. Of course, having a divorce attorney is normally the best solution, even when filing an uncontested divorce, as you can rest assured that all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted. And having well-written judgments and orders in place by an attorney can help make sure that you and your spouse do not end up back in court in the near future because changes need to be made to the original orders or judgments that were entered in court.
Uncontested Divorce is Not Necessarily Easy
People often misconstrue “uncontested” with easy. This is not always the case, especially when the married couple has been married for a number of years and especially when children are involved. However, just because the process can be challenging with more assets and children, it does not mean that it is impossible to gradually work through all of the issues at hand and come to a settlement that is agreeable to both parties. The important thing to remember is that compromise is your best friend when it comes to finding agreement with your soon to be ex-spouse.
Should I Hire an Attorney for an Uncontested Divorce?
One of the reasons couples will try to for an uncontested divorce is to keep legal costs down. Can this be accomplished without the help of an attorney? Yes, it can, but it really does depend on the particular situation. For instance, a couple that has been married for only a short period of time with no real assets and no children should be able to go through the entire process on their own much easier than a couple with children, a home, and retirement accounts. Since they do not have children and there are no joint assets to speak of, the divorce should really be nothing more than a matter of paperwork. But keep in mind, the paperwork needs to be done correctly, and if not, you may end up in court on multiple days to get it all right.
Now, take that same situation and add a home and/or children, and the matter immediately becomes more complex. In this situation, hiring an attorney to at least evaluate the situation and to look over any agreement would be a more prudent move. There are significant savings involved in hiring an attorney for an uncontested divorce, such as saving time going to court multiple times, making sure things are done right the first time, avoiding the spouses having to hire 2-attorneys (at double the cost), and many attorneys offer discounted fees for people who divorce by agreement. The moment you have assets and/or future finances tied into the divorce, it becomes more important to ensure the agreement is done properly as the final divorce decree will have a long-lasting impact on these important issues.
When Is Uncontested Divorce Not Realistic?
Honestly, having an uncontested divorce is always an option; it is just more difficult to come to agreements the longer the marriage and the more assets in play. If the main concern is legal fees, then try to work together to at least settle all of the smaller issues before taking the case to court. Then, your legal team can go to work settling more complex issues, such as retirement accounts, investment accounts, and property division. The more you limit what has to go through litigation to be settled, the more money you will be able to save in legal fees.
Understanding the Laws in Your State Helps
There are other helpful guides on that you can read for more state specific laws and the application of those laws to your particular case by clicking here. By gaining an understanding of how the laws in your states will affect issues such as property division, alimony, child custody, and others, you can be more informed and hopefully work through the difficult issues prior to speaking with an expert, and in the end, save a lot of time, money, and heartache.