Many people who start the divorce process believe that their divorce is uncontested. For some, that’s true, but not for all.
From a divorce attorney’s perspective, an uncontested divorce eliminates the attorney from the negotiation process. That attorney may be involved in advising the client during the negotiations, but not necessarily involved in the negotiations themselves. Oftentimes, the parties to an uncontested divorce have an agreement in place before they ever hire the attorney. Ideally, you want to seek an attorney’s advice before, and during the negotiation process.
Whatever the mechanisms for the process, there are many benefits to the uncontested divorce. Here are a few:
An uncontested divorce takes the case away from the judge. Any time you leave your fate in the hands of a judge you risk a cookie cutter result. That’s not to say the judge isn’t concerned with making a good decision, but the court’s time is limited. With tens of thousands of cases filed each year, the judge simply doesn’t have the time to give your case the attention it deserves.
By keeping your case out of the judge’s hands, you can be creative. You are able to do things that the judge doesn’t have the power or time to do. By emphasizing the things that are important to you, you can tailor the decree to your specific needs.
An uncontested divorce is by definition collaborative in nature. It involves you and your spouse working together, considering everyone’s (husband, wife and kids) goals, and coming up with an agreement that works for everyone. If you have kids, you understand that you will need to be able to work together for years to come. An uncontested divorce can get you off to a good start.
A hotly contested divorce can cause harsh feelings between spouses. Allegations are made, fingers are pointed, blame is assigned, and bitterness ensues. Invariably, the anger and negativity is sensed by the kids. A snide remark here, a dig there. Kids are much smarter and more intuitive than we give them credit. But they also personalize the world around them. Most everything that happens in the world is about them. When children see their parents fight, they will likely feel that they are the cause. If you want to screw up your kids, then insult, degrade, and undermine their other parent.
An uncontested divorce minimizes anger, bitterness, and resentment. It promotes communication and a willingness to cooperate. And that’s good for the kids
Typically, your attorney’s fees are much lower in an uncontested divorce. You avoid many aspects of litigation – temporary orders, discovery, depositions, mediation, trial, and a slew of other disputes. You can easily pay 10 times more for a contested divorce.
With an uncontested divorce there is also a reduced emotional cost. And the stress and anxiety of the unknown are greatly lessened.
The uncontested divorce is relatively rare. I may have two or three of them going at any one time. The personalities of the spouses are the most important factor in determining whether or not an uncontested divorce is a possibility. The ability to communicate and cooperate are paramount. Trust and transparency are also important.
But the uncontested divorce is not without its pitfalls. In my next blog, we will discuss some of the issues to look out for.
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