You’ve seen the billboards. “Divorce $200.” Maybe, while web surfing, you’ve come across offers for $149 online divorces. Just download the form, fill it out, get your spouse to sign, and you’re done. Some even offer a money back guarantee. Can something as complicated as a divorce be that simple and “no fuss, no muss?”
It can be if you seek and uncontested divorce.
So, what does that mean, “uncontested divorce?” Well, every divorce is pretty much founded on four main issues: Division of property (community and marital, obtained pre-marriage and post-marriage), division of debt (who owes what), child custody (where will they live, visitation rights) and payment of alimony and/or child support. While no divorce is truly “uncontested” – no disagreements – these disputes do not always have to be taken to court. An uncontested divorce is possible when the spouses can decide on the terms of the divorce without taking it to a divorce court trial. Obviously, uncontested divorces move much faster through the family court system and are cheaper that contested, contentious divorces.
If the spouses can come to agreement on the big four issues, chances are very good an uncontested divorce is possible.
Our advice to every couple seeking a divorce is to first attempt to work out mutual terms for the separation without going to court. If disputes can’t be worked out on on their own, there is the process of divorce mediation or arbitration, with or without attorney representation. Uncontested divorces save time and money by bypassing the lengthy litigation and divorce trial process. An uncontested divorce typically reduces hostility, allowing both parties to resume their lives more quickly and get on with life as an ex.
Uncontested divorces are simple and quick but there are key issues to consider. Uncontested divorces can sometimes cause people to give up rights they didn’t even realize they had. These rights include things like alimony, a division of pension or retirement benefits, income from real estate and other sources of income. The wisest plan is to consult an experienced divorce attorney, even if you and your soon to be ex-spouse are on the best of terms.
The reality is, most divorces are uncontested divorces, somewhere in the neighborhood of 95% by some accounts, but we only hear about that remaining 5% – those messy divorces rife with conflict and on the evening news or celebrity website. An uncontested divorce does not always mean that the divorce is amicable and everything is all wine and roses. All it means is that the issues were decided outside of the court system, but there can still be plenty of animosity and bitterness involved.
It is important to note that to get an uncontested divorce, there have to be absolutely no issues left unresolved. You may have to do a little negotiating with your spouse before you can come to a comfortable agreement that you are both satisfied with. Your focus should be on the end result – after your uncontested divorce you will no longer be married, and you and your spouse will be free to get on with your new lives. It is the chance for a fresh start, to let go of your marriage, and move on.
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