As an Orange County divorce attorney and certified mediator for 18 years, I understand and have witnessed first hand the benefits and drawbacks experienced by those who have used a divorce process to end their marriage.
While any type of divorce is often a difficult period for one or both parties, an uncontested divorce can result in less stress, avoiding traumatic and expensive court proceedings. Of course, not all couples and circumstances are suited for uncontested divorces.
Let’s start by taking a look at just what an uncontested divorce is and if it may be right for you.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce means that the spouses agree on everything from asset and debt division to child custody and support. There is no dispute and, therefore, neither party needs the court’s determinations.
Those that take this route have either come to an agreement on their own or gone through mediation in order to reach an agreement.
What are the Pros of an Uncontested Divorce?
There are several benefits to this type of dissolution of marriage, much of which center around reducing both stress and costs.
Here are the main considerations:
- Reduces Emotional Stress – There are many reasons why a marriage ends in divorce. The bottom line is that, in most cases, there were irreconcilable differences which could be anything from the inability to resolve differences of opinions to the loss of trust.
For many, these differences spill over into divorce proceedings, leading to legal battles that can leave scars on both parties.
If children are involved, the stakes increase dramatically. Some Orange County divorce attorneys strongly recommend contested divorces, despite the circumstances. You’ll find that these types of law firms are more interested in profits than the welfare of a family.
Contested divorces often include going to trial, calling on witnesses, and possibly dealing with someone that represents the children. The representative could be another attorney or a guardian ad litem who is a court-appointed person that determines the best interests of the children.
An uncontested divorce requires communication from both sides of the fence. Taking the time to talk to each other and navigate through the choices and solutions can lead to less resentment and more peace of mind for the entire family.
- Reduces Cost – Keeping your divorce out of the courts decreases costs in several ways. In addition to a reduced lawyer, processing, and court fees, there is the factor of time. How much is your time worth? And, if employed, how much time will you lose at your job due to court proceedings?
While still advisable to have an Orange County divorce attorney to help you through the process, an uncontested divorce can save thousands of dollars by keeping the proceedings out of court and avoiding a trial.
- Privacy – Once your divorce goes to court, the details of your personal issues are recorded and available to the public. In an uncontested divorce, statements that you have filed with the court are the only documents made public.
- Time – It may be hard to imagine, but some contested divorces take months if not years to settle. For those caught in the middle of the fray, it can be like opening up a wound that has just begun to heal, again…and again.
What are the Cons of an Uncontested Divorce?
For some parties, an uncontested divorce is simply not possible. Here are the main concerns and reasons why an uncontested divorce may not be right for you:
- An Imbalance of Power – If one of the parties is particularly assertive or even abusive, an uncontested divorce is probably not the best option.
If it was difficult to speak your mind when you were married, it will not be any easier in the throes of deciding who gets what property, how much time the children will spend with each parent, and the amount of alimony or child support one of the parties will pay.
- Every Discussion Turns Into a Fight – Uncontested divorces require a certain level of respect and maturity between spouses. If the relationship has deteriorated to the point that a conversation is impossible to maintain without anger and hostility creeping in, it will be nearly impossible to come to the many agreements required in this type of divorce.
- Complex Issues – While some high-asset divorces can be settled out of court, the complexities required in a settlement may be best left to the courts.
Uncontested divorces do not require a formal discovery, the pre-trial phase in which each party requests important documentation from the other such as detailed information regarding finances and income.
If your assets are such that a spouse could either move or hide some of these assets, and their integrity is questionable, a contested divorce may be necessary.
- Not Appealable – Obtaining an uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse came to all of the necessary agreements; therefore, you are not able to appeal the terms of the divorce.
Depending on what state you divorced in, you may be able to modify the agreement should circumstances surrounding the divorce change significantly.
Keep in mind that, even if you’ve decided on an uncontested divorce, issues can and do arise in the process of mediation.
Working with an Orange County divorce attorney helps mitigate any of these issues, keeping the process as smooth as possible while representing you and your children’s best interests.
If there are children involved, a board-certified family law specialist is recommended. These lawyers have a deep understanding of the many laws that may affect both you and your children.
The certification process requires practicing in the specialized area for at least five years, passing a written examination in the field of family law, and a good reputation among peers.
Choose the Right Orange County Divorce Attorney
Once you’ve decided which direction you’re going, it’s time to consider if you will need the support of a mediator or lawyer to get you to your destination.
With both certified mediators and board-certified family law specialists, our team can assist and encourage mediation first, while being fully prepared for litigation should the need arise.
For a free consultation, contact us at the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin today.