Pros and Cons of an Uncontested Divorce
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An Uncontested Divorce is where both spouses agree to divorce, and have no outstanding disagreements concerning basic divorce issues such as maintenance and property division. Filing for uncontested divorce usually does not involve any major court hearings, and can result in less paperwork and other procedures.
In contrast, a contested divorce is where one or both parties cannot reach an agreement on any of the major divorce issues. Unlike uncontested divorces, which can take as little as one month in some states, a contested divorce can be a complex process. Contested divorces can involve several months and much back-and-forth communication between the parties. However with both types of divorce, it is common for only one spouse to initiate the divorce proceedings.
Who is Eligible for Uncontested Divorce?
Uncontested divorce is generally available only for those couples who mutually agree on the decision to divorce one another. In addition, the spouses need to reach at least a basic understanding regarding major issues such as spousal support, property division, and child custody/visitation schedules.
One spouse will usually initiate the paperwork for uncontested divorce, and if the other spouse agrees, a judge will grant the divorce using streamlined court procedures. Also, depending on the factors of the situation, the couple may be eligible for other types of divorce mechanisms such as a summary dissolution.
On the other hand, if one spouse does not agree to divorce, then of course the divorce is no longer “uncontested”. In these situations, the couple will have to utilize normal contested divorce court proceedings, which can take much longer.
What are some of the Pros and Cons of Uncontested Divorce?
Uncontested divorce has many advantages over traditional divorce proceedings, such as:
- Streamlined paperwork process: Since the parties are essentially agreeing to all the terms of the divorce, uncontested proceedings involve much less time and paperwork. Instead of taking months, the entire process can be completed in as little as one month. A court hearing is sometimes not required. This can significantly lower the overall cost of the process
- Lower costs: Since the process is shorter, this results in lower attorney fees and court-associated costs for both parties
- Less information made public: All divorce proceedings are eventually made accessible to the public in county records. Because less paperwork is involved, this means that less information is published on the background and history of the individual parties
- Less potential for error: Unless some new issues arise in the middle of the process, it is less likely that the parties will make errors because there are fewer documents and forms to fill out. Also, there will be less back-and-forth correspondences between the parties, which can be helpful in sensitive situations
Thus, uncontested divorce can be of assistance in circumstances where the couple must act immediately or make significant life changes within a short period of time. This is especially true where the health/safety of a child or spouse has become endangered.
However, uncontested divorce may not be suitable in all situations. Some of the main drawbacks of uncontested divorce include:
- Limited availability: Uncontested divorce is not available in all jurisdictions. Also, a couple must meet specific requirements in order to be eligible. Check your state’s divorce laws to see if uncontested divorce is allowed
- Limited dispute resolution: Uncontested divorce proceedings are not quite suitable for more complex divorce situations. For example, complex issues such as property disputes or criminal matters cannot be subject to abbreviated proceedings. These must be addressed by other divorce hearings
Do I Need a Lawyer for Uncontested Divorce Proceedings?
A couple that is considering filing for uncontested divorce should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. While the process is relatively more straight-forward compared to other divorce categories, it may still be necessary to hire a lawyer for consultation. This is especially true if the other spouse is represented by an attorney. A divorce lawyer can assist with preparing the necessary paperwork, and can provide legal representation in the event that unforeseen circumstances arise.
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Last Modified: 04-26-2012 01:40 PM PDT
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