Uncontested Divorce and Spousal Support Laws

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What is Uncontested Divorce?

An “uncontested divorce” is where both partners in a couple agree to a divorce, as well as all the major issues involved in the process, such as division of property, child custody, child support, and spousal support.  This is in contrast to a contested divorce, where there may be disputes over such issues, or a disagreement over the divorce itself.

One of the main advantages of uncontested divorce is that the parties can usually save much time and resources.  This is because uncontested divorce usually involves a streamlined process involving fewer court hearings and less court costs. 

Who is Eligible for Uncontested Divorce?

Eligibility requirements for uncontested divorce will vary by region and jurisdiction.  However, uncontested divorce is generally reserved for those couples who have resolved and agreed upon basic issues involved in divorce such as child custody/support and property distribution.  As in a standard divorce, the proceedings begin when one party files for divorce; in some jurisdictions the couple may need to state proper grounds for the divorce.

Thus, couples who have complex issues involving property, children, or spousal support should consider whether or not uncontested divorce is appropriate for their situation.  Sacrificing an accurate determination of these issues in efforts to save time or money can create problems in the long run.   

How is Spousal Support Determined in an Uncontested Divorce?

In an uncontested divorce, the individual spouses need to make their own determinations regarding issues like spousal support.  Calculations of spousal support need to be done outside of court, and so it may be necessary to work with lawyers and possibly a mediator.  The parties can usually engage in negotiations in order to determine how much spousal support is to be paid.  Other issues like child support, custody, and visitation can also be worked out during negotiations.

After an agreement has been made, the parties will usually formalize their conclusions into a written agreement or “stipulation”.  They can then submit the agreement to the judge, who will review it for approval.  After it is approved, the agreement becomes enforceable as a court order and must be followed by both parties. 

If the parties can’t reach a mutual agreement, they may need to ask the court to intervene to make determinations regarding spousal support.  If this occurs, the disagreement may change the character of the divorce from uncontested to contested.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Uncontested Divorce and Spousal Support Laws?

Although uncontested divorce involves a streamlined filing process, it is generally necessary to hire a lawyer for assistance.  In an uncontested divorce, the parties will be undergoing much negotiation and discussion, and the counsel of a lawyer is indispensable during these periods.  It’s to your benefit to work with an experienced family law attorney in your area for advice and representation in an uncontested divorce.

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Last Modified: 04-26-2012 01:47 PM PDT

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