Uncontested Divorce Overview
Divorce can be nasty business. Many divorce cases become hotly contested and highly emotional. However, there are instances in which an uncontested divorce is possible, and the spouses are able to settle the primary issues involved in ending the marriage without the need for protracted courtroom litigation. There are some essential facts a person needs to understand about an uncontested divorce.
Is an Attorney Necessary in an Uncontested Divorce?
Just because a divorce is uncontested does not automatically mean no legal representation is necessary. There are instances in which an uncontested divorce involves complicated issues. For example, the couple may jointly own a business, a situation which typically requires the assistance of a capable lawyer to address during divorce.
If a divorce truly is uncontested, attorney fees will not mount as they would in a hotly contested divorce. Legal counsel will focus on drafting important documents, including a settlement agreement to be presented to the court.
An attorney will schedule an initial consultation to discuss a divorce case. There typically is no fee charged for this type of consult.
Can Each Spouse Have the Same Attorney?
Divorcing spouses may not share an attorney. The Code of Professional Responsibility (and similar rules of conduct) in each of the 50 states regulates attorney conflict of interest. An attorney representing both parties in a divorce case would face a conflict of interest. If only one party retains a lawyer, it is important for all involved to understand that this legal counsel has an allegiance only to the spouse that hired the professional.
Does the Court Have Documents or Forms Available?
Nearly all courts in the country have standardized forms available for use in divorce cases. These typically can be obtained online or through the court clerk's office. In most cases, the court does not charge for these forms. Keep in mind that although forms can be helpful, they are designed for people without legal representation. Hiring a lawyer remains the best course for a person in a divorce case.
Will an Uncontested Case Move Faster?
Yes, an uncontested divorce typically moves through court faster than a contested one. Another consideration regarding the speed of a case is how full a divorce court's calendar is at any given juncture. Courts that are clogged with cases will slow the process down for everyone, including individuals who pursue an uncontested divorce.
There are benefits associated with an uncontested divorce. However, a party to a divorce must keep in mind that a divorce that seems uncontested on the surface can prove to be complicated and acrimonious in the end.