7 reasons to choose an uncontested divorce
An uncontested divorce allows both parties to settle their divorce as quickly as possible. Here are some of the most common advantages.
Save timeThe amount of time that is spent in and out of court can be enormous in a contested divorce. At the outset, the spouses are given a Case Schedule to follow. The case schedule sets the trial as much as year into the future. A whole range of litigation follows in the intervening months: the entry of temporary orders, status conference, discovery and depositions, and finally, the trial.
An uncontested divorce can be resolved in a matter of days. A skilled attorney is able to put together the needed orders after one session with the parties. The orders can be signed and filed after only one trip to the courthouse.
Save moneyThe greater amount of time, the greater amount of money spent. Every pre-trial motion filed, every discovery request, costs money. The spouses are required to pay for mediation, as well as for a guardian ad litem, if one is appointed for the children. Most expensive are the attorney's fees. The spouses can anticipate costs in the thousands.
An uncontested divorce requires a one time filing fee. The only other expense is the one time flat fee paid to the attorney.
Minimize conflictAs the divorce process drags on, (and as the costs keep rising) the animosity between the spouses increase. The spouses become increasingly angry at each other for having to endure the ordeal of a divorce. This is especially true if attorneys are hired; a spouse will oftentimes feel bullied by the attorney, and will take their anger out on the other spouse.
An uncontested divorce can be resolved after one session with an attorney, allowing the spouses to get on with their lives.
Easier on the childrenAn important issue in any divorce is what happens to the children of the marriage. The judge will order a parenting plan which lays out a residential schedule for the child. A judge determines the parenting plan based on the "Best interests" of the child. In some cases, a judge will appoint a "Guardian ad litem" for the child, whose job is to report to the court what the best interests of the child are.
Children have a hard enough time already when their parents get divorced. Exposing them to the contentious court process only makes matters worse for them. An uncontested divorce can resolve any issues involving the child, keeping him/her away from the courthouse.
Keep private matters privateIn a contested divorce, matters that the spouses had hoped to keep private come out into open. Prior to the trial date, attorneys are permitted to engage in a range of discovery methods, including writing interrogatories, obtaining documents, and deposing witnesses. As a result, many issues that the spouses wished to keep between themselves may suddenly become publicized to the judge, attorneys, and family members. If the spouses continue to a trial, attorneys may question witnesses as to any matter relevant to the case, no matter how private or embarrassing to the spouses.
An uncontested divorce is resolved quietly, in a law office, with only the spouses and one attorney present. Private matters are kept private.
Most cases get settled anyway90% of divorce cases are settled before trial. In Washington, the parties are required to engage in mediation before a judge will even allow the trial to proceed. The mediation is one of the last steps prior to the actual trial, taking place after months of discovery and pre-trial motions. Even if the mediation is successful in producing an agreement, the spouses are often left bitter at the financial and emotional toll that was needlessly exerted.
An uncontested divorce allows the spouses to work out the terms of the agreement at the beginning of the process, avoiding months of anxiety.
Avoid a trialIf the case is not settled in mediation, it will proceed to a trial. A divorce trial is tedious, expensive, and should be avoided if possible. A trial generally lasts between 1-2 full days, at which time the parties will be required to sit in a courtroom, listening to hours worth of unsavory testimony.
Oftentimes, the spouses leave the court house disgruntled, convinced that the trial and months of pretrial litigation was not worth it. An Uncontested Divorce can eliminate these frustrations
When is it not appropriate to choose an uncontested divorce?Though an uncontested divorce is appropriate for many spouses, in some cases it is ill-advised. If there are large discrepancies in income or education level between the spouses, an uncontested divorce should be approached with caution. If there is a history of intimidation or domestic violence towards a spouse, uncontested divorce should be avoided.
But for many spouses, an uncontested divorce allows them to finalize the divorce quickly, cheaply, and with a minimal amount of stress.
A note about the attorney's roleEither spouse may seek to hire an attorney to facilitate the uncontested divorce. An attorney may not represent both spouses. Instead, the attorney acts as counsel and advisor for one spouse only, and proposes the agreed orders to the other spouse. Though the attorney only represents one spouse, both spouses may participate at any session drafting the agreed orders.