An uncontested divorce is a divorce with mutual consent and when neither of the parties is fighting it. It is also called civil divorce, as the settlement is made out of the court.
There are some prerequisites to be eligible for filing an uncontested divorce case. Couples having complex struggles and disputes over alimony (spousal support), child custody, or finances, are not usually eligible for an uncontested divorce.
In this post, we tell you about the eligibility, advantages, disadvantages, and the process for uncontested divorce in the US.
Eligibility For An Uncontested Divorce
All couples seeking a divorce are not eligible for an uncontested divorce. They need to have no mutual disagreements in the following areas to be eligible for an uncontested divorce.
- Child custody
- Child support
- Property division
- Alimony and spousal support
The procedure for an uncontested divorce is quite streamlined, and it begins by one of the partners filing the divorce petition. The form for an uncontested divorce has all the segments to fill information about child custody and property distribution.
If the other partner does not contest the divorce or fails to appear in the court, then the divorce is automatically granted.
You can achieve an undisputed and quick divorce in the case of a fault divorce. A fault divorce is when a partner seeks divorce from the spouse on the grounds of adultery, abandonment for a certain length of time, prison confinement, physical inability for sexual intercourse, emotional pain, physical pain, or cruelty, etc.
Benefits Of Uncontested Divorce
If you and your spouse are separating on an amicable note and can agree on common grounds for an uncontested divorce, then it can benefit you in the following ways.
- A chance to end the marriage discreetly and with dignity.
- Costs of the attorney bills are lesser in an uncontested divorce.
- If the level of conflict between both parties is low, then an uncontested divorce helps in retaining more assets instead of spending them on attorneys, accountants, legal processes, etc.
- It takes lesser time to resolve than contested divorces. It lets couples move on with their lives and save themselves from the emotional trauma caused by multiple divorce hearings.
- Most divorces filed in court contain paperwork, and the couple’s personal details, financial details, and other private information become part of the public record. However, in an uncontested divorce, couples can reduce the amount of private information placed on the public record.
- The couple can minimize the emotional turmoil caused to the children by swiftly deciding custody terms in an uncontested divorce.
Mutual consent in a divorce makes the process easy, quick, less expensive, and less emotionally draining. An uncontested divorce with a properly fabricated divorce agreement can help the couple in the long term.
Disadvantages Of Uncontested Divorce
Despite the multiple benefits of an uncontested divorce, there are some drawbacks to it. The following are the likely disadvantages of uncontested divorce.
- You should be careful if you have any potential issues related to child support, child custody, alimony, property disputes, etc. To save some money on legal procedures, you might end up agreeing for less than what you deserve or require.
- If you plan to proceed with an uncontested divorce without an attorney to save the divorce bills, then you might experience a lot of pressure. Legal divorce forms need to be read and understood, which is not easy. The entire process can get overwhelming, and you might make some mistakes if you can’t understand the details.
- You might have to file additional filings if you have children and go for an uncontested divorce. Several US states don’t allow uncontested divorce for couples with children, and the couples might be asked to go for regular divorce. In such cases, it is better to hire an attorney who knows the uncontested divorce laws.
These disadvantages can be offset by hiring a divorce lawyer who can file an uncontested divorce on your behalf.
How Long Does An Uncontested Divorce Take?
Certain factors determine the time taken for an uncontested divorce. Here are two main factors that affect the speed of the process.
- How occupied is the court with other cases?
- How fast can your spouse return all the necessary documents to you?
States like New York, where there is no waiting period, the procedure takes roughly three months, while states like Oklahoma have a different process of divorce where they determine the waiting period on a case-to-case basis. In the latter situation, the duration depends on the circumstance, and the divorce can sometimes get resolved faster.
In general, some uncontested divorces are resolved in six weeks, while others can take six months or more. The waiting period to grant the divorce also depends on whether the couple has minor children or not. The waiting period is more when minor children are involved.
Uncontested divorces might also be granted faster in the cases where both the parties are self-sufficient or qualified enough to be self-sufficient at the earliest. The shorter the span of marriage, the sooner is the divorce granted in most cases.
How Does An Uncontested Divorce Differ From A Contested Divorce?
The main difference between the uncontested and contested divorce is that in a contested divorce, both the parties are not on the same page and disagree with the divorce and associated terms. Couples with disputes will have to file a contested divorce.
Contest divorce is different in the following ways.
- Since the couples have disagreements, the court makes the decisions for them. Unlike uncontested divorce, the couples here cannot control the outcome.
- Contested divorces take longer and are more expensive due to high divorce bills that need to be paid to the lawyers.
- The procedure of a contested divorce is more time-consuming and stressful because you need multiple visits to the court.
- If the case goes to trial, then it takes a lot more time. As the number of court hearings increases, so does your legal cost.
How To Get An Uncontested Divorce?
You can hire a divorce lawyer to help you with divorce filing and fighting for the uncontested divorce.
- The legal forms are made available for the public in the county courthouses or civil courts.
- The person who wants to initiate the divorce process needs to fill the court forms, file them with the clerk at the county, pay the determined fee for filing a case, and then have it served to the other party.
- You can take the advice from an attorney or clerk to help you check if the papers are filed correctly. If the papers are filed incorrectly, then you may have to start all over again, or there is a chance that you might not be allowed to do it without an attorney.
- You will need to pay the filing fee again if you have to redo the process.
- After the process from your end is done, your spouse will have to sign the documents or file a response.
- According to the state marriage law and divorce laws, once the spouse’s response is obtained, you might be required to observe a mandatory waiting period.
- The process of filing an uncontested divorce can be done online, too. You can download the forms and fill the details carefully. Then you can file them under the advice of a clerk or attorney. Once you are done filling and filing the papers, they are served to your spouse. Once the papers are served, then the process of divorce begins.
You will be granted a divorce depending on the clarity of the papers and the state rules.
An uncontested divorce is always faster and less stressful for couples who can reach amicable grounds and get separated with dignity. However, try and get an attorney who can help you through the process and make it less time-consuming. Read all the papers carefully before signing them. Always consult your legal advisor before taking any steps.