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Types of uncontested divorce

Learn the basic types of uncontested divorce, including summary dissolution and divorce by default

Uncontested divorce is an option if you and your spouse have, or want to work out, an agreement on how to settle your divorce.

The types of uncontested divorce will vary by state, so it's best to review the options available in your jurisdiction before you move forward. When available, these options are usually quicker and less expensive than the average divorce.

In a typical uncontested divorce, one spouse files for divorce, and the other spouse has a certain number of days to file a response. Once the response is filed, the process of exchanging information and reaching agreements on key issues begins.

Simple divorce or summary dissolution

Many states offer some form of “simple” divorce for couples that meet certain requirements such as a short term marriage, no significant assets, and no children. The simple divorce is usually faster and less expensive than a regular uncontested divorce.

Divorce by default

In the case where the other spouse does not respond, the divorce may proceed as a type of uncontested divorce called a default or default with agreement. In a true default, the non-responding spouse gives up their right to have any say in how the case is decided. In a default with agreement as in a regular uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will be required to create and agree upon a divorce settlement agreement.

What happens next?

Most states will require you to disclose certain information regarding children and finances to each other, and to the court, before drafting and filing your final divorce settlement agreements. There are usually several forms required for completing these disclosures, and you will need to use the forms required by your state and local courts.

Over the next few months, you and your spouse will complete your disclosures, and create a divorce settlement agreement laying out the terms for key issues such as splitting assets and debt, child custody and support, and spousal support.

You and your spouse might choose to draft the divorce settlement agreement yourselves, or you might hire with the help of one or more attorneys to assist you with the process. Finally, depending on what state and local jurisdiction you are in, you might be required to attend a quick hearing in front of a judge, who will need to approve your agreement before your divorce will be finalized.

Other divorce considerations

If you cannot agree

An uncontested divorce will become contested if you and your spouse cannot agree on some or all of the issues yourselves, or with the help of mediators or attorneys. In this case, the unresolved issues will be decided by a judge during a trial.

Divorce is state-specific

Keep in mind that where you live will determine the details and requirements of your divorce process. The laws governing divorce vary state-to-state, and your local courts may require additional steps, or forms, to complete the process.

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