Friday, 18 October 2013 11:13

The Pros and Cons of Uncontested Divorce

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Ending your marriage is never simple. However, you and your spouse can make the process more simple by remaining civil and working together to settle the issues equitably. If the spouses can work together to settle issues such as legal decision making, parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, division of property, and division of debt, they can make their divorce a much less difficult process. This may be very difficult for many couples, but it is often well worth the effort.

The advantages of an uncontested divorce are many. First, the process is much faster than going to trial. People going through the divorce process usually want to be divorced as soon as possible. If they settle rather than go to trial, the process is always over more quickly, which leads to the second advantage: less aggravation. Divorce is stressful, aggravating, heart-breaking, and often infuriating. It is usually worse the longer the process takes and especially if you go to trial. When you have an uncontested divorce, or if you settle prior to trial, you avoid additional stress, aggravation, anger, and sorrow. Similarly, you have less conflict with the other spouse. This can be enormously helpful in the future if you have children together.

Another advantage to an uncontested divorce or settlement is that it is less expensive. Everyone has better things to do with their money than pay their divorce attorneys. The less work the attorney does, they less you pay. Going to trial takes a huge amount of an attorney’s time, so if you can negotiate an outcome with which you can live, you will save money. I tell people when they have a chance to agree to a reasonable settlement to spend their money on their kids, not on their attorney. An uncontested divorce is also often more dignified. You will not go to court to fight while your children watch and you will not testify against your spouse. Many people are embarrassed at trial by what they say about their spouses and by what their spouse says about them.

Finally, the most important advantage to an uncontested divorce is that you control the outcome. If the two spouses can agree to something reasonable, they make the decision regarding their lives instead of a judge making the decision for them. Besides, an agreement that you can live with is always better than a judge’s decision that you think is awful. This is even more important if you have children with the other spouse. The two people who are the most qualified to make a decision regarding your children’s best interests are you and the other parent. If you and the other parent cannot make an agreement, a judge (who is, by the way, a stranger in a black robe) who has never met your children will make the decision. The judge will do his or her best, but the judge does not know you or your children and will make the decision after listening to approximately three hours of evidence and reviewing a few exhibits.

The advantages of settlement apply to every divorce, but the disadvantages are limited to certain situations. The most obvious disadvantage to an uncontested divorce or settlement is when the other spouse will not be reasonable. Obviously, you should not agree for the sake of making an agreement when the other party is insisting on a settlement that is unreasonable and will not budge from that position. Examples include insisting that you rarely see your children (without a good reason like abuse or drug use), insisting on keeping all or most of the property, insisting on an exorbitant amount of support or insisting on paying no support when it is clearly due, and insisting on including issues that are not issues in a divorce, such as who is supposedly at fault for the divorce. However, if both parties can be reasonable, this is not a disadvantage.

Another disadvantage to uncontested divorce or settlement is if one party intimidates the other party. In my opinion, everyone needs a lawyer in a divorce, but people who are intimidated by their spouse REALLY need a lawyer. People who are intimidated by their spouse should be hesitant to settle prior to litigation because they almost always end up capitulating to unreasonable demands because they are intimidated. This is usually the case with abused spouses and spouses who have been controlled and pushed around for a long time by the other spouse. These spouses usually end up agreeing to a ridiculous settlement.

Finally, there is no advantage, or even much possibility, of an uncontested divorce or settlement if the parties cannot cooperate. If either spouse focuses of antagonism towards the other spouse, or if the parties simply cannot work together for any reason, they will not be able to cooperate sufficiently to reach a reasonable resolution of their divorce.

As you can see, the advantages of an uncontested divorce or a settlement usually far outweigh the disadvantages. I believe that you should still have a lawyer in an uncontested divorce so that you can ensure that everything is correct. Also, it helps a lot to have someone who is not emotionally involved in your divorce and who has experience in the process advise you and negotiate on your behalf.

If you need help with an uncontested divorce or a divorce settlement, please contact me. I would love to help you.



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Thomas A. Morton, P. L. L. C.
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