A common misconception about divorce is that it is inherently contentious. While some splits are messy and litigious, others go off without a hitch. Many couples – no matter their feelings toward each other – want to avoid the tense hearings that often accompany traditional divorce proceedings and choose to seek alternatives for ending their marriage. So long as they are willing and able to cooperate, they may be able to pursue an uncontested divorce.
How uncontested divorces work
An uncontested divorce happens when both spouses in a couple agree on all major matters pertaining to their split, including:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Marital property and debt division
- Spousal support
It is possible for couples who have disagreements about these matters to seek an uncontested divorce. Yet, these disagreements must be minor enough that they can work them out on their own – or with the help of a mediator.
Why couples seek uncontested divorces
Many couples seek uncontested divorces because they are quick and economical. Traditional divorces can be costly, especially when proceedings drag out. Uncontested divorces, however, can often be completed in a matter of months. Furthermore, they may end with couples paying only the court filing fee and their individual attorney’s fees.
Uncontested divorces also help couples avoid the courtroom. The only time couples go in front of a judge during one is to have their marital settlement agreement approved.
Who uncontested divorces make sense for
Uncontested divorces do not make sense for all couples. If one spouse in a couple has a history of dishonesty, an uncontested divorce may allow them to get away with hiding information or assets. Furthermore, if a couple has issues communicating or cooperating, they will have difficulty working out a marital settlement agreement together. And if a couple splits up due to one spouse’s abuse, an uncontested divorce may put the victimized spouse further at risk.
Couples without children or significant assets are often the best candidates for uncontested divorces. This is because they have fewer issues to resolve. Yet, if a couple has children and significant assets, they can still work out their marital settlement agreement together. To do so, however, they must be on the same page about custody and child support. And they must both have a thorough understanding of their marital assets.
Even in an uncontested divorce, it is important to seek legal help to ensure the fairness of the marital settlement agreement.