Is An Uncontested Divorce Right for You?
Should You Have an Uncontested Divorce?
The average divorce can take roughly 12 months to complete, so it is no surprise that many couples look for a simpler way. An uncontested divorce can be an easier, faster alternative for some people, but it does come with some downsides. To decide whether this form of divorce is right for your situation, you need to learn a little about how they work.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
When you think of divorce, you probably picture something that involves family law attorneys arguing in front of a stern judge. However, the most basic form of divorce is much simpler. An uncontested divorce is one where both parties agree on everything. This type of divorce is often called a mutual consent divorce because it only works if the couple is on the same page. Instead of arguing back and forth or having a judge decide things, you just sign a few papers and submit them to the court. In an uncontested divorce, you both agree on things like:
- Ending your marriage
- How to divide your property
- Whether a spouse should receive alimony
- Who gets custody of the children
- How much child support to pay
Uncontested Divorces Are Simple and Fast
For many couples, one of the benefits of uncontested divorce is that it is fast. How long does a divorce take? This depends on where you live, but in most cases, this type can be finalized within 30 to 90 days. This is far quicker than a contested divorce. If you and your spouse cannot agree, you have to wait until the court has time to hear you. This adds a lot of time to the process, especially if you end up going back and forth in negotiations. A contested divorce takes an average of 12 months to finalize, and some may drag on for years. Therefore, if you need a faster divorce, uncontested ones are the way to go. Finalizing your divorce quickly comes with many benefits:
- Place your past behind you and move on from an unpleasant relationship
- Untangle finances so you can buy a home or make investments
- Avoid wasting a lot of time in court
- Free yourself to marry again or pursue others romantically
- Ensure your ex does not have any claim on a new business
- Make your relationship status less confusing for your children
You Save Money With an Uncontested Divorce
Because it is faster, an uncontested divorce is also cheaper. You do not have to spend hours talking to a lawyer and figuring things out. The only thing you have to pay for this type of divorce is a small court filing fee. Even if you choose to hire a divorce attorney to look over your document, you spend far less. An uncontested divorce also keeps you from dealing with additional fees associated with hiring accountants, private investigators, or other experts to help you make your case in court.
Uncontested Divorces Are More Private
Did you know that the typical divorce is a matter of public record? Even if someone does not attend your trial, they can request court documents that reveal all sorts of private information. An uncontested divorce helps to reduce the number of private details people can access. Strangers only see the basics of your divorce decision, not a court transcript with all the intimate details of your relationship. In addition to keeping nosy people out of your private details, an uncontested divorce also spares you the difficulty of having to reveal things like:
- Whether anyone cheated in the relationship
- How you make your money
- The details of how much money you have
- Whether you have any embarrassing quirks
- How you choose to care for your child
An Uncontested Divorce is Inadvisable in an Abusive Relationship
Though an uncontested divorce can work well, it is not recommended in situations with any sort of abuse. The problem is that abusive relationships involve a power differential. One partner can control or intimidate the other due to their history of abuse. Even if the victim is in a safe place now, it can be hard for them to stand up for their own interests. Instead, it is better to keep things formal and go through the court. Not only will each party have a lawyer to protect them, but they will also have an impartial judge to make fair decisions. Keep in mind that abuse comes in many forms. Here are some examples of situations where uncontested divorce is a bad idea:
- One partner has been physically violent in the past, including pushing, shoving, slapping, choking, or restraining their partner.
- Since they separated, one partner has been stalking or harassing the other.
- A person has been financially abusing their partner by putting all bank accounts in their name and refusing to provide access to their partner.
- A partner has been exhibiting signs of mental abuse such as controlling their partner’s movements or gaslighting their partner.
You Have to Understand the Legal System to File an Uncontested Divorce
Another challenge of uncontested divorces is that they require people to be comfortable with all the details of the legal system. You have to be able to research your local requirements for divorce, get official forms from the court, fill out these documents correctly, and submit them in a timely manner. Failing to follow all the right legal steps can delay your divorce or cause other issues. Hiring a divorce attorney to help you out can reduce some of the confusion. However, even with a lawyer, you still bear a lot of responsibility. If this sounds too confusing, it might be helpful to have the structure of an uncontested divorce. In these divorces, the courts will do things like tell you when you need to appear before a judge and what documents you need to present.
Uncontested Divorces Only Work When You Can Both Agree
The final issue with an uncontested divorce is that it requires both parties to not challenge anything. You have to both agree with each other and be willing to work together. Of course, there will be things neither party agrees on at first, but you have to be willing to sit down and compromise. If a simple conversation about who gets the sofa turns into a screaming match, an uncontested divorce might not be right for you. Here are some signs that you will not be able to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement with your estranged spouse:
- Someone wants a piece of property just to spite the other.
- Either partner carries a lot of resentment and unhappiness about how the marriage ended.
- One partner isn’t willing to acknowledge the other’s labor and nonfinancial contributions to the marriage.
- Every discussion about the divorce becomes a large fight.
- Both partners cannot be in the same room without arguing.
How to Find the Right Divorce for Your Needs
Whether you choose an uncontested or contested divorce, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney. At the Law Office of Kelly Berton Rocco, we are happy to discuss your options and help you find the right method for your situation. We can assist you with simple matters like drafting clear custody arrangements, or we can help you argue your case in court. We serve Hackensack and the surrounding regions. To learn more about our services, call 201-343-0078 or fill out our contact form.