Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Will Your Divorce be Uncontested?

An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties are in agreement about what is going to happen, and they cooperate in the process.  Therefore, it is less expensive than a contested one and is completed more quickly.


In an uncontested divorce, the parties are in agreement about the issues (division of assets/debts and custody/support/visitation of children). Since they are in agreement, the court does not need to make the decision for them. (However the court will still need to approve the final decree.)


Many divorces start out as uncontested ones, but become bitterly contested along the way.   Here are some tips to keep your divorce uncontested and moving along.


  1. Be considerate when discussing your new life.   Even if you both want the divorce, there will be sadness and loss associated with the changes that are being made.   Try to be sensitive when discussing your new job, living arrangements or dating goals.
  2. Be careful about how you handle new friendships or dating relationships. Openly dating before the divorce is final can be risky, especially if you take your date around your children.
  3. Respect your spouse’s privacy.  If you are living separately, give your spouse the courtesy of a phone call when you plan to visit. If you are still sharing the same house, respect your spouse’s territory and things and ask that s/he do the same for you.
  4. Don’t make unilateral decisions about joint issues.  Don’t decide who gets the living room furniture or the family pets, or which debts are going to be paid without allowing your spouse a chance to be heard and have imput into the decision.


There are some situations in which the above strategy doesn’t work.   For instance if your spouse is engaging in behavior that is harmful to himself/herself or others (especially your children), if your spouse is wasting marital assets, not paying debts, or is being physically or emotionally abusive to you. In those cases it may be wiser to take legal action, even if the divorce takes longer.  


You should never agree to terms that you know you cannot live with just to get the divorce finished. You will live to regret it later, and may have to spend thousands of dollars to “fix” the problems.


Your divorce attorney can guide you through these difficult decisions. When emotions run high, it is best to take a deep breath and consider the whole picture, rather than acting rashly and saying things that you will later regret.

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