In a perfect world, all divorces would be uncontested. In an uncontested divorce the attorney is usually removed from the negotiation process, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean the attorney is not involved. If you are considering going through an uncontested divorce, you should absolutely employ an attorney to advise you throughout the process.
There are many benefits to the uncontested divorce. In my last article, I discussed a few of the benefits: creativity, collaboration, children, and cost. The uncontested divorce allows the spouses to be creative and resolve the case in ways that judges cannot or will not. It forces the parties to collaborate which develops communication and trust, and eliminates some of the negative effects on the children. Finally, it greatly reduces the financial and emotional cost.
Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. The vast majority of divorce cases are contested. But for the few cases that are uncontested, there are certainly some potential negatives. Here are the three pitfalls of the uncontested divorce:
1. Lack of Understanding (of Your Rights)
Do you know what constitutes community property? Separate property? Do you know how courts treat community property versus separate property? Do you have a reimbursement claim? Are you entitled to spousal maintenance/alimony? How is child support calculated?
If you know the answer to each of these questions, then you’re off to a good start. But there are many other aspects to a divorce. It’s imperative that you know what you’re entitled to under the law. A divorce attorney can advise you of your rights to make sure you’re not giving up more than you should.
2. Lack of Knowledge (of What’s at Stake)
During a marriage, spouses often divide responsibilities. Usually, one spouse is responsible for handling the finances. As a result, the other spouse is often left in the dark. How many credit cards are there, and what are the balances? Are there retirement accounts? Are there bank accounts you don’t know about? Stock? Bonds? Mutual funds? Is the mortgage current? Is you spouse hiding money?
If you are considering a divorce, it’s important to educate yourself on what’s at stake before you file. Look through your records at home. Monitor the incoming mail for account statements. A divorce lawyer can help you with this. If you are separated and don’t have access to the records, your lawyer can use the legal process to ensure you have access to the information you need.
Your divorce will be the biggest financial transaction of your life. It can dictate whether you have the necessary resources as you head into the next phase of life. It can also determine the type of lifestyle you are able to offer your kids.
3. Inequities in Bargaining Power
There are a multitude of personality types. Some people are controlling. Some are “type A”. Some are passive. Some are manipulative. Some people will let their spouse have their way just to keep the peace.
When you’re going through a divorce, you don’t need be pushed around. There is a big difference between compromising and being bullied. A good divorce attorney can level the playing field. You don’t have to give in. Let your attorney do the negotiating. Let your attorney stand up for you.
Is an Uncontested Divorce Right for You?
If any of the above pitfalls are present, an uncontested divorce may not be right for you. But all is not lost. Sometimes a family law specialist can eliminate these potential hazards and salvage the uncontested divorce. Your lawyer can advise you of your rights. Your lawyer can determine what’s at stake. And your lawyer can be your voice.
If you are considering or going through a divorce, you need an attorney. At Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant, our family lawyers strive to be the most professional, responsive, and hard-working lawyers in Texas. We look forward to putting those values to work for you. Call us at (940) 387-3518 to find out how we can help you.