What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a divorce decree that neither party is fighting. When both parties in a married couple agree to divorce, filing for an uncontested divorce can save time and money through streamlined court procedures. The couple must:
- Not have any financial disputes (such as child custody or alimony)
- Both agree to the divorce (if one person does not show up for the divorce proceedings it will also be seen as an agreement to the divorce)
Though more complicated divorces may fall outside these parameters in a given state; when both sides of the relationship are informed and agree to the big issues in most divorces (such as child custody, child support, property distribution, and spousal support), a simple, non-confrontational divorce can save substantial amounts of time and money.
Eligibility for an Uncontested Divorce
Uncontested divorces are generally available to couples who have no remaining disagreements regarding the basic divorce issues: child-custody, child support, property division, and spousal support. Like a contested divorce, it begins by one side filing for divorce. Uncontested divorces usually have streamlined paperwork, in which property and child custody information is filed, along with a statement of the grounds for divorce.
If the other side agrees to the divorce (in other words, doesn't "contest" it) or fails to make an appearance, it can be granted by the court. If the other spouse doesn't agree and makes the necessary court filings, an uncontested divorce cannot be granted.
Benefits of Uncontested Divorce
One primary benefit of this type of divorce is the savings in divorce costs. While attorney representation will often be advisable in any kind of divorce, the streamlined procedure includes lowered court costs, as well in lowered attorney bills.
Uncontested divorce also allows many couples to get their divorce granted more quickly than in a contested divorce. With fewer proceedings and less legal wrangling, it allows couples to more quickly move on with their lives.
Though divorce of any sort often involves some conflict, proceeding with an uncontested divorce can lower the amount of conflict between the parting spouses by simply offering fewer opportunities for conflict to arise. With fewer demands for information going back and forth, and fewer proceedings to resolve disputed elements of the divorce, conflict between the soon-to-be exes can be minimized.
Unless filed under seal (which is not easy), information made part of a divorce proceeding becomes open to the public. This means that not only personal information one side alleges about the other, but also financial and other private information become matters of public record. But in divorces that aren't contested by either party, there's simply less information filed with the court to go into the public record. This can allow spouses who agree to a divorce to minimize the amount of private information made public.
Disadvantages to Uncontested Divorce
Couples who have children, complex or disputed property arrangements, or potential disagreement as to spousal support should strongly weigh whether uncontested divorce is appropriate. The trade-off for simplicity and cost saving comes at the expense of being able to satisfactorily determine complicated custody decisions, as well as complex property distributions or spousal support arrangements.
Couples with children must make additional filings regarding the child's custody and child support if pursuing an uncontested divorce. The simplified divorce procedure in some states is not available when the couple has a child. The importance of legal resolution of child custody issues calls for the more detailed procedures available in a regular divorce.
The issues involved in a divorce are enormous from who will raise children to how a couples property will be divided. An experienced divorce attorney can help not only get the best results for you, but also help you find the most cost effective path to divorce.