15 Sep What is an Uncontested/ Non-Contested Divorce?
What is an Non-Contested/ Uncontested Divorce?
The word “non-contested” or “uncontested” is thrown around quite a bit in the divorce arena. It is cheaper, faster, and involves significantly less drama. However, most clients do not understand what a non-contested divorce actually is, and why it is so much easier to get through. The term non-contested is used when the parties agree upon all of the terms of the divorce. It means that the two spouses have reached an agreement before they even entered the Courthouse for the first time. There is nothing left to fight over.
It isn’t necessary that the parties get along for a case to be non-contested. Most divorced couples are beyond getting along. However, there are limits to its reach. It is almost never used in cases involving minor children. It is also rare to have a true non-contested agreement in cases where there are substantial marital assets.
The typical case, then, is a short-lived marriage without children or marital assets to fight over. Once the parties can get passed the initial hurdle of the divorce itself, they can usually get to a point of cooperation that allows them to agree upon settlement terms.
Why is it faster?
A non-contested divorce can take as little as a few months from start to finish. The average divorce case takes approximately a year. That is a huge difference. The reason is because it is all resolved upfront. Before your Attorney files the case, he or she will draft the settlement terms and make sure that both parties are on the same page.
After that, the Attorney will draft all of the paperwork necessary for the Court- the Petition/Waiver of Answer and Service, the Statements of Income for each, the Statements of Property for each, the Proposed Settlement, the Certificate of Dissolution, The Order Granting Dissolution, and any other paperwork necessary for the Court.
With all of the paperwork submitted at one time, the Judge is signaled that this can be resolved on the very first Court date.
Why is it cheaper?
A non-contested divorce is considerably cheaper than a contested divorce. The fees are fixed, i.e. not billed hourly, because the Attorney can predict the course of the case. There is considerably less time involved because a case is taken from start to finish in just a few short months as opposed to a year. And since the terms are agreed upon in advance, there is not extensive negotiating or preparing for trial.
Why do you need an Attorney?
Even with a non-contested divorce, I highly recommend that someone pay the flat fee to hire a competent Attorney. First of all, an Attorney is going to be in the best position to determine if the case actually is non-contested. If the spouses are not actually on the same page, then they could damage their case by trying to file it by themselves as non-contested.
Secondly, an Attorney knows what to look for in assets and rights to determine any pitfalls or special circumstances that you might have. For instances, inheritances are frequently misunderstood in divorce law as are pensions and 401(k)’s.
The third reason I would recommend hiring Counsel is because certain papers need to be filled out in certain ways with certain information in order for the Court to issue a Divorce Judgment. If you do not fill out the information correctly, then the Judge will continue your case and advise that you need to correct it. If the error is large enough, the Judge may dismiss the case and make you refile it with the corrected paperwork, resulting in a new filing fee.
In summary, a non-contested divorce is a great way for two spouses to end their marriage civilly and without a lot of expense. It is used when there are no large assets or minor children involved in the marriage. But it is still recommended that you hire an Attorney to get you through the process quickly and correctly. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office at 314-782-3500.