Uncontested Divorce: Everything You Need To Know
What Needs To Be Agreed Upon?
If you and your spouse are considering an uncontested divorce, ask yourselves if you agree on how the following issues will be resolved:
- Division of assets
- Division of debt
- Child custody
- Child support and/or spousal support
If you are both in agreement on how you each want to handle these issues, then an uncontested divorce has a much higher chance of success for you both.
Are There Any Benefits To Uncontested Divorce?
Yes, there are a number of significant benefits to dissolving your marriage this way. The biggest benefits for most couples considering this option are:
Reduced Legal Fees: Since you both agree upfront about how you want to handle the major issues, you avoid spending months or years fighting over every last detail. As a bonus, the money you save on attorney’s fees can go toward getting established in your new lives and supporting your children. This might be an important consideration if you would like to provide your kids with supportive resources like counseling.
Minimal Contact: When the major issues are already agreed upon, there is little need for you or your spouse to be together if you prefer not to see each other in person. This often helps keep you and your ex on good terms and avoid fights just for the sake of fighting.
Greater Privacy: An uncontested divorce allows you and your spouse to keep a lot of your financial and property disclosures, as well as your negotiations, private. This matters more to some couples than others, but keep in mind that both divorce and child custody records become public information in California when they are settled in court by a judge.
What Are The Drawbacks?
While it should be obvious, it often needs to be pointed out that, for an uncontested divorce to work, both parties have to want an uncontested divorce. If one spouse is pushing for it and the other goes along simply to avoid additional conflict, that spouse may be taken advantage of.
Additionally, uncontested divorce is not always the best path, even for some couples that are in agreement about the basic terms. Couples that have children, complex finances, or have vastly different levels of income may want to go through the court system in order to ensure an equitable division of everything involved.
An uncontested divorce is also a bad idea if domestic violence is involved. Abuse is a game changer, and both parties will need an advocate to help them negotiate. Matters may become even more complicated if criminal prosecution is involved.
How To File For An Uncontested Divorce
To start the process, one spouse needs to file for divorce and will be known as the petitioner. The other spouse will be the respondent. The respondent doesn’t have to file any initial paperwork.
A typical divorce in California takes at least six months to finalize, giving you both time to work out the details. If property, child custody and child support are involved, you will need to exchange information and come to agreements that work for both of you.
These finalized arrangements are put into a document called a Marital Settlement Agreement. This, along with other supporting documents, is filed with the court for approval. Once the court approves the Marital Settlement Agreement, the divorce is final.
Working With A Divorce Attorney
The best way for you and your spouse to complete an uncontested divorce is for you each to have your own divorce attorneys. This way, your attorneys can help negotiate any minor issues that need to be resolved, and will help you both minimize the amount of in-person contact that needs to happen.
At Vonder Haar Law, we have extensive experience helping our clients through all types of divorce, no matter how amicable or contentious. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with us, please call our office today for an appointment.
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