The first image that springs to mind when you think about divorce is probably a courtroom setting. Warring spouses sit at large tables, lawyers call witnesses and cross-examine, and judges rule on objections. It may well resemble an episode of various hour-long TV dramas.
While high-conflict divorces certainly happen, that’s not every case. It’s not even in most cases. In situations where the spouses are on the same page, an uncontested divorce is often an option.
1. What Is An Uncontested Divorce?
As the name sounds, an uncontested divorce is a way to end a marriage with no argument over the terms.
Not an option for all situations, if you and your spouse agree on all of the elements that so often trip up the process, it can be a quick, easy way to call it a day.
While a perfect fit for some cases, an uncontested divorce is an inflexible proposition. It’s very clear and concise; you can either go this way or you can’t.
If you’re on the same page about the division of property, shared debts, child custody, spousal support, and all the rest, uncontested divorce may work.
But if there’s a dispute over anything, over any part of the divorce, you have to take a more traditional path. This doesn’t mean you have to fight about everything, but you probably need to go through meditation or use another tool in order to hammer out an agreement that works for everyone.
Related Reading: 7 “Simple” Steps To Divorce
2. What Are The Benefits of Uncontested Divorce in California?
Not every marriage that ends in divorce devolves into a heated court battle. Sometimes both spouses feel the same way and simply want to move on. One of the biggest benefits of uncontested divorce is that it allows this to happen with a minimum of fuss.
It helps keep conflict to a minimum and speeds the process along. Basically, it gets everyone where they want to be with the least amount of time and trouble.
Because it can hang up on one issue, uncontested divorce tends to work best in straightforward cases. Think shorter marriages with little shared property and no children. That’s not necessarily a requirement, but it’s much easier to accomplish in these conditions.
Cost is another huge benefit of uncontested divorce. They’re generally much less expensive.
When both spouses agree to the terms ahead of time, there’s no need for extensive preparation, multiple court appearances, and back and forth negotiations.
The process also takes significantly less time. There’s less paperwork, so you have fewer attorney’s fees. Many of the little things that add up quickly in divorce aren’t necessary here, which saves you money and time.
Related Reading: What Is In A Divorce Decree?
3. What Are The Drawbacks?
A quick and easy divorce sounds good, but it’s also important to take the time and consider if an uncontested divorce is truly the best option. Every case is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Again, in short, simple marriages, it’s easier for a couple to dissolve a marriage and essentially go back to the separate lives they lived before.
But when a marriage is complicated, that usually makes divorce similarly complex. In an attempt to reach a conclusion as quickly as possible, some people try to shoehorn their situation where it doesn’t quite fit.
In order to get things over and done with, people are more apt to agree to unfavorable terms.
Divorce is a big deal and has lasting ramifications. Your financial future often takes a hit. If you don’t negotiate for parenting time, it influences how much you get to see your kids.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t explore uncontested divorce, but be careful what you agree to. Take the time to consider what you really want and need when you dissolve your marriage.
Whatever terms you approve, consider how they’ll play out in the future. A contested divorce may be more expensive and take longer, but it may also be well worth it in the end.
Related Reading: 7 Things to Do Before Starting Divorce
4. Do I Need A Lawyer?
Even if you and your spouse see eye to eye on all the important details, it’s still in your best interest to at least consult a divorce lawyer. Even in an uncontested divorce. An experienced attorney will be able to look at the terms and answer the questions you have.
They know what to look for and when an agreement unfairly skews one way or the other. If terms aren’t equitable, or could potentially come back to bite you later, they’ll let you know.
Though it may cost you more in the short term, in the bigger picture, talking to an attorney in an uncontested divorce may actually save you money.
Taking care of issues now means you won’t wind up spending money to fix them down the road. It’s comparable to the old “measure twice, cut once” adage in construction. Doing it right the first time prevents future problems.
Sure, it’s one more expense at the moment, but having an attorney look at your paperwork before you file is still significantly less than the cost of a full trial or even mediation. You may spend a few hundred dollars upfront, but the peace of mind it provides is often priceless.
Related Reading: How Are Assets Split In A Divorce In California?