Uncontested Divorce Proceedings

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Divorce is a serious and complicated process that marks an end to a relationship causing emotional and financial toll on both the partners. There are several types of divorce options in the United States that a couple considers based on their requirement and situation. Uncontested divorce is one of the most popular and hassle free divorce option, where both the parties come to a mutual agreement (with or without the help of lawyers/mediators, consultants) on all concerned issues surrounding the end of marriage. Uncontested divorce proceedings are quite simple compared to that of a contested or a litigated one. Here, the parties solve all issues regarding issues like child custody and support, spousal support, property distribution and division of debt. It is estimated that over 95% of divorces in U.S. are "uncontested".

To start the divorce proceedings in an uncontested divorce, the residency requirements of the spouses should be met. Moreover, the couple must file a petition for divorce at the Family court of law stating the grounds for divorce. US allows both fault and no-fault based divorces and the grounds have been categorized based on such types. A detailed explanation on the proceedings have been discussed below.

Sequence of Uncontested Divorce Proceedings at a glance:

  • Preparing the divorce petition and filing it by the petitioner
  • Serving the divorce documents to the respondent
  • Wherever essential, completing the divorce waiting period
  • Preparing divorce settlement and proposed order and filing it
  • Couple with children completing additional filing by filling up necessary forms
  • Wherever essential, attending the hearing for confirmation of agreement
  • Signing all necessary paperworks by the judge and the parties
  • Entry of divorce decree and finalization of divorce

Jurisdictional Hearing in Uncontested Divorce Proceedings:

  • In an uncontested divorce, there is minimum one court appearance
  • Such an appearance takes place often during a jurisdictional hearing
  • This hearing usually occurs after the termination of the statutory waiting period
  • It is an informal process and in a majority of instances takes place not in an open courtroom but in the chambers of the judge
  • During this hearing, the following take place:
    • The court must be offered proof that the grounds of divorce exist
    • It is ascertained that the residency requirements are fulfilled
    • The court confirms that the spouses are incompatible and the objective of marriage is no longer legally fulfilled
    • The court verifies that all the essential issues are addressed in the settlement agreement
  • It is sufficient if one of the spouses attends this hearing. Usually, the spouse who filed the petition must be present.

Characteristics of Settlement Agreement in an Uncontested Divorce

  • A divorce proceeding can be termed as uncontested only when both spouses accede with each other regarding all the major issues and draft a settlement agreement
  • This agreement must address all the primary issues regarding a divorce, like:
    • Spousal Support
    • Child Support
    • Parenting time
    • Child Custody
    • Property division
    • Debt division
  • A notary public must be a witness that both spouses have signed the settlement agreement.
  • After the spouses completely draft and sign the settlement agreement, they must submit it to the court for approval.
  • The court incorporates the settlement agreement and makes it a part of the final divorce decree.

Statutory Waiting Period

  • This duration must pass from the date the divorce petition is filed and only after it, the court can issue a final divorce decree
  • From state to state, the laws regarding this period may slightly differ
  • On an average, this period is usually 6 months
  • Although, both the spouses accede with each other regarding all issues of the divorce, they must wait till this period is elapsed
  • The only situation when this period is waived is in case of an emergency divorce. The most common cause of permitting this sort of divorce is when the health of any one or both partners is risked, if an emergency divorce is not granted. Courts are very reluctant to grant an emergency divorce.

An uncontested divorce proceedings are simple, faster and cost-effective for any couple seeking a divorce. By following proper rules and steps according to the State laws, the divorce process can be finalized smoothly, while saving a lot of time and potential legal expenses. Couples, who have filed for an uncontested divorce, are considered as divorced only after the court order is signed and entered. This is an important fact for those individuals who desire to remarry post divorce.

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