A Simple Explanation
Simply put, an uncontested divorce is one in which a partner files divorce papers and the other chooses not to file or reaches an agreement with the filing partner. In other words, one partner gives up their right to have their say in what the court will decide. There is no contestation from him or her. Uncontested divorces are also known as default divorces. However, even though the idea of having an uncontested divorce may sound a bit rosy, it is important for the party giving up their right to be heard to read through the papers filed by their partner. This is because the contents of those papers often inform the final court orders.
Most people who prefer to file for an uncontested divorce often do so save time and money. However, the process is not as straightforward as it sounds. There are processes and court papers that both couples have to file to actually legally separate. The major issues that have to be resolved include:
- The division of property and debt
- Spousal support (amount and duration)
- Child support (amount and duration)
- Parenting responsibilities and visitation
With these major issues sorted out, the couple then needs to file some paperwork and can complete the process without having to appear in court. While most uncontested divorces can be granted relatively quickly, some take time. The simplest uncontested divorce cases are for those without children or substantial assets. In cases where couples have plenty of assets and minor children, the process of finalizing the separation can be a bit more complicated. However, properly trained family law attorneys can handle everything for you and make the process a lot simpler than you think.
How to Get an Uncontested Divorce
Basically, uncontested divorces can only be done by a couple who agree informally about the basic divorce issues: financial support, the division of matrimonial property, and child custody. Disagreeing about one or two of these basic divorce issues makes the case contested.
The divorce process begins with one of the partners filing for divorce. The papers filed with the family court will normally contain information about child custody, property division and a statement of the reason (grounds) for separation.
Such a divorce can only be granted if your partner fails to respond or responds in agreement to your uncontested divorce terms. However, should your partner disagree, the divorce will not be granted and you will probably have to contest it in court.
What is the difference between typical divorce cases (contested divorces) and uncontested divorces?
As explained in the introduction above, an uncontested divorce is one which both parties agree to and have no outstanding disagreements with regards to any of the major divorce issues (financial support, child custody, the division of property, and division of debt). Though both must be filed in court, an uncontested divorce normally does not require the appearance of both parties in court. This is in contrast to contested divorce cases that require court appearances and may cause even more disagreements as partners and their attorneys face off with each other in court chambers. Also, uncontested divorces are usually completed (granted) much faster than contested ones and therefore cost much less to litigate.
Why quite a number of people prefer uncontested divorces
There are many advantages to having an uncontested divorce. The most obvious one is that such divorces are generally less expensive relative to contested ones. This is because they can be completed by filing only a few court documents. The fact that the couple is in agreement also means that there is very little for attorneys to do meaning legal fees can be kept low during the process.
One of the other major advantages is that uncontested divorces often help people to move on faster. They do this by helping the separating partners to avoid the adversarial/ confrontational nature of court cases that can further bring up negative emotions and keep partners hurting for longer. Quick recovery time is crucial especially for parents who (all of a sudden) might now have to take care of children on their own or might have to double their efforts at work to pay for child and spousal support.
Partners who don’t contest divorce filing also get to avoid the need to reveal/ make public their personal information. This is in contrast to contested divorce cases that involve the filing of multiple documents during divorce proceedings. Material which usually becomes a matter of public record. Thus, a couple who would like to reveal as little personal information as possible about themselves should definitely go for uncontested divorce cases. They reduce the amount of private information you might have to make public.
Seeing your parents argue or knowing that one has taken the other to court can cause emotional stress. By not contesting the divorce in court, parents can help reduce the stress children face during this trying period in their lives. It can also prepare the ground for successful co-parenting between divorced parents.
Why some don’t want to take that route?
Even though uncontested divorces have some serious advantages, they also come with some disadvantages that you should definitely be aware of before contacting a family attorney to file the paperwork for you. First, they are not appropriate for partners who have minor children, substantial properties, significant liabilities, or disagreements on any of the major divorce issues. This is because such a divorce doesn’t provide an opportunity for the two partners to settle everything legally before a court of law. However, as stated before, those without children or without any disagreements as to any of the major divorce issues will find this type of divorce convenient.
Another major drawback related to uncontested divorces is that they are not allowed in some states especially when the partners pursuing the option have children together. This is because the law wants to settle permanently the issue of child custody and ensure the rights of the children in question are protected and that they are adequately cared for by both parents.
One other problem is the issue of property division. Although many people assume that California is a 50-50 state and that everything will be split equally between the separating couple, there are several laws, statutes, legal principles, and precedencies that courts take into account before reaching their final decisions. Thus, if a couple has multiple assets, an uncontested divorce will not resolve the issue of who gets what.
Lastly, there is the fact that an uncontested divorce may result in you or your partner not having a chance to review the filed paperwork or for your side of the story to go into court records. This is because most parties handle uncontested divorces themselves without any significant help from family attorneys. Thus, your partner may knowingly or unknowingly include sections in the paperwork that you may not agree to. If the divorce is granted and a judge uses such sections to make some court orders, you may end up losing property or losing custody of your child. A matter that perhaps any competent family attorney could have foreseen and averted in a contested divorce case.
Is there a need to hire an attorney for an uncontested divorce case?
Representing yourself in an uncontested divorce may seem like a good way to save money and time and perhaps maintain a bit of privacy, but it is not advisable. There are complexities even to court proceedings that seem as straightforward as uncontested divorces. These legal complexities will be difficult for you to follow. The consequences of handling any resulting negative outcomes could also further worsen the situation for you and leave you regretting not hiring an attorney in the first place.
If you are living in a state with complicated divorce procedures like California, have minor children, multiple assets, or a relatively short marriage, you should definitely consider hiring an attorney. This is because these factors complicate the divorce process and can only be handled professionally by family attorneys. Family attorneys like those working on our law firm have the experience needed to get you the best outcome in your divorce case. Our attorneys are also trained and guided by our ethics statement to always keep everything revealed to them confidential. By law, an attorney cannot reveal information revealed to them by a client except in very few circumstances.
Lastly, even when your soon-to-be ex-partner hires an attorney to file paperwork, you must recognize that you are no longer a couple and that that attorney will only be representing your partner. Thus, it behooves you to hire your own family attorney to review the paperwork for you, represent your interest and ensure you get what you deserve should the uncontested divorce turn into a contested divorce case.
What if I don’t agree with my partner on the terms he or she filed for the uncontested divorce?
During the review of the divorce paperwork filed, either you or your partner may disagree with the terms contained therein. In case this occurs, the uncontested divorce becomes a contested divorce case. And in a contested divorce, a judge will be the final arbiter and will, in the end, make orders that are legally binding. Thus, the case will no longer be in the hands of the divorcing partners. They can no longer decide who gets what. The court/ presiding judge will make the ultimate decision after going through the paperwork and listening to the two parties.
Even though the thought of losing the control of deciding what’s best for you in the divorce may seem a bit depressing, you should know that the court’s final decision will be fair and in the best interest of your children (if you have any). To make sure that the final outcome is really the best possible you could get, hire a formidable family attorney from us. He or she will ensure that you get what is right and fair.
In case you would not prefer your uncontested divorce to become contested in a court of law, you can hire a mediator to help sort out the pending disagreements. The first step is to get a mediator who is competent and acceptable to both parties. Multiple law firms, including ours, offer mediation services. An experienced attorney will listen to both sides, help you both to see what’s best for each other, ask you or your partner to compromise on one issue so as to get another, and just generally ensure that you both get to separate in best terms possible. In the end, the mediator will draft an agreement and help you file the paperwork.
Divorcing is legal separation and should not mean an end to your relationship. If you share a child or children, both of you remain parents to the children and should, therefore, remain friends so that you can raise your children the right way. The best way to do this is to remain friends with your partner. This can help both of you to pursue and finalize your divorce by filing for an uncontested divorce. You could also both settle on a mediator and let him or her help you find the best legal solutions to your disagreements.
Get the Right San Diego Family Law Attorney for You
In conclusion, a divorce is truly testing time for both parties but an uncontested divorce is one of the best ways to ensure that the disagreements between both partners do not escalate and become even more toxic. An uncontested divorce is one in which a partner doesn’t contest the terms filed by the other partner. By working with a skilled, understanding, and capable San Diego Family Law Attorney, you will be able to rest assured that your interests are being taken care of. Our attorneys can review for you the divorce papers filed by your partner and make recommendations so that the final terms take care of your interests. They can also request for some terms to be deleted or modified. Lastly, in case the case ends up escalating to a full-fledged contested divorce case, our attorneys will represent you to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
Contact our vibrant and understanding attorneys in San Diego Family Law Attorney today at 619-610-7425 and allow them to guide you through the legal challenges of getting a divorce in California!