An uncontested divorce is one where the court formally approves the divorce request without engaging in a large amount of combative litigation. To put it simply, an uncontested divorce is one in which the parties do not argue over the divorce itself or the specifics of their separation.
When the parties expressly agree in writing to settle all differences between them, or when it occurs by default, a divorce is deemed uncontested. In a default divorce, the parties automatically get a divorce decision since there is no response to the complaint, either because the defendant does not answer the summons or because they agree to enter a default.
Before starting an uncontested divorce proceeding, it is vital to understand the procedure in your state because each state has a different set of rules for this kind of action. The simplest and quickest way to obtain a divorce is through an uncontested divorce.
Although it can be difficult to forecast in advance whether a divorce will settle or one party will not react, you might not know whether you will be uncontested going into divorce proceedings.
A comparison between Uncontested and Contested Divorce
Each divorce begins in the same way: the petitioner, who is typically one of the partners, files a petition with the court, and the respondent, who is typically the other partner, gets served with the complaint for divorce. It contains a comprehensive list of the divorce petitioner’s demands.
The petitioner may also include a request for temporary court orders in their filing, depending on the problems in the marriage. An initial appearance date in court is scheduled when the divorce petition is initially filed. Often, this day follows the filing by a few months. Couples can try to resolve as many difficulties as they can before the court date, and they should do so.
The divorce might be finalized as uncontested if the couple can agree on every matter. State laws differ, but if there are no issues between the couple, they simply put their agreement in writing using forms, on their own, or with assistance from an attorney or other professional.
The judge will approve the terms if both parties have informed the court that they agree to them. One quick court appearance might be required. If a hearing is necessary, the court will interrogate both parties to ensure they know their consent terms.
The alternative divorce procedure is comparable. The petitioner files for divorce and serves the respondent with the papers. The responder will then have a set amount of time, usually between 10 days and a few weeks, to file a response or appear for a scheduled court hearing. If the responder takes neither action, the court considers the petitioner’s request and renders a ruling. Usually, a quick hearing is required.
All couples should make every effort to reach a compromise in the days preceding the court date. Nonetheless, given the complexity of divorces, it is occasionally hard for both parties to reach a consensus on every issue. The remaining concerns will need to be resolved in court if the two sides cannot agree after trying to do so and potentially working with lawyers or mediators who are qualified to do so.
A contentious divorce follows a similar course to other civil trials if the parties reach an impasse. In order to achieve their desired result, both parties will acquire and present evidence, including witness testimony, at a trial. Ultimately, the court will decide how to handle these issues and render a legally valid divorce ruling, ending the marriage.
The requirements for an uncontested divorce
There are two ways in which an uncontested divorce may take place. The first scenario is one in which the partners agree regarding all aspects of the divorce, including the division of assets, alimony or spousal support, child custody and visitation, child support, and shared debt. The couple presents the court with an agreement, settlement, or stipulation detailing their agreement.
The second circumstance occurs when one spouse files for divorce and makes specific demands, such as child custody or home ownership, while the other spouse never responds to the divorce papers or shows up in court. The case then moves forward without them, and without input from the second spouse, the court determines whether the filing spouse is entitled to what they have requested.
Debt and divorce
Every couple going through a divorce has a different financial condition, and in most states, the division of debt is adjusted to meet each divorcing spouse’s financial conditions fairly. Courts consider a couple’s finances when dividing debt accumulated together in the 41 states that practice “equitable division,” also known as “common law” division. The spouse who committed the debt is accountable for it if it was incurred separately.
Fairness and the ability to pay are more important than equality as the main objectives. A spouse who makes more money or receives more property may also be given more debt. The debt incurred during the marriage is split 50/50 into the nine “community property” states, albeit some of these states also have limits or other rules that make it more difficult.
If debt division during a divorce is to be successful, the complete disclosure of all financial details to both parties is required. Financial decisions should have been made jointly during your marriage, ideally. Even if they weren’t, you should work together to resolve debt as part of your divorce. Doing it correctly will result in less financial harm, including your credit score and credit record. When a couple gets divorced, different debts are handled differently, like credit card, medical, mortgage, and auto-loan debt.
State laws vary regarding who is responsible for debt accrued after a marriage splits but before a divorce is final. Some states don’t consider separation and debt incurred until the divorce is finalized, and it is handled the same way it would be if they weren’t separated.
In some states, debt incurred after a divorce is treated differently. Unless the debtor lives in a common property jurisdiction that would not recognize separation, it is typically that person’s obligation if the debt is incurred on an individual account. Yet, joint accounts might be a challenge. Creditors solely take into account the account’s name. A divorce or even a separation has no bearing on that. The creditor assumes that you pay the balance if your name appears on a credit card.
What’s the best course of action?
Paying off your debt before finalizing the divorce is the easiest way to prevent debt from becoming a problem after a divorce. If it isn’t possible, decide with your spouse how to split financial responsibilities, such as having one of you pay the mortgage and the other the car payment.
The divorce decision does not include lenders, credit card firms, or others as parties. They merely desire payment. No matter what the terms of your divorce judgment indicate, you are responsible if your name is on the account.
Dissolving joint accounts before going to court is the greatest way to avoid problems with sharing debt during a divorce. Refinance the loan on the house, the loan on the automobile, and any additional loans if you can. To put the debt on cards in each person’s name, cancel pooled credit cards, and look into balance transfers. This is a situation where keeping cordial contact with your ex is beneficial. If you are not fighting, it is much simpler to distribute debt and organize funds throughout a divorce.
If you believe your debt situation will be complicated during divorce, it is best that you get in touch with an attorney right away.
An uncontested divorce has two key benefits: time and financial savings. In the event that a settlement is achieved, it might be submitted within a few weeks and authorized by the court within a month. In contrast, a contentious divorce may take months or even years to complete.
You also save money with uncontested, settlement divorces. Obviously, it will be less expensive than employing a lawyer if you can agree on everything without either spouse retaining counsel. But avoiding a trial will save you much money even if both spouses employ attorneys.
Your divorce will also be quick and inexpensive if your spouse doesn’t reply to your filing. There won’t be any haggling, trials, or disputes. Your legal costs will be inexpensive, even for document preparation and a quick court appearance. Also, your divorce will be handled fast.
If it is impossible to serve the papers on your spouse, an attorney can help you apply any other service methods that your state may provide, such as posting the documents on their front door or requesting permission to publish them in the newspaper.
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