Both spouses sign a divorce decree verifying that they have resolved all their issues and are in agreement as to every aspect of the divorce.
One spouse files a petition for divorce and the other one fails to file a response within the time allowed by law.
It may look easy. Forms can be found at the courthouse. But, there may be some snags along the way. An experienced family law attorney can help clients, who may initially disagree about one or two issues, work towards a resolution so that an agreement can be effectuated and a trial in divorce court can be avoided. There may also be issues the parties have not thought about that need to be considered.
How an attorney can help
Uncontested means the parties have agreed on:
- Property distribution
- Debt allocation
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Whether or not one party will receive support from the other one
It is unusual for the parties to agree on all the issues at the onset of the divorce proceeding. When they cannot agree, even on one issue, a court trial is scheduled where a family law judge will make the final ruling on the contested issue. A party who is unsatisfied with the court order can appeal to a higher court. This all costs money and takes time.
Family law attorneys are skilled in helping their clients negotiate agreements as to the issues that must be resolved. They also know what each individual's rights are and can help prevent their clients from making decisions they may later regret.
There may be some issues that need attention and may prevent a divorce from proceeding uncontested. For example, if the spouses are involved in bankruptcy, or there are any domestic violence issues, the court will not approve an uncontested divorce.
An attorney will also make sure the parties have considered:
- How to protect themselves from debt collections by a creditor when the debt was assigned to one spouse who subsequently does not pay it
- One party has a retirement pension plan that needs to be apportioned
At a minimum, an attorney can review the papers and the final divorce decree before they are filed with the court to be sure they are properly filled out. This will save time and money that will be expended if it is not done correctly the first time.