In legal terms, to “contest” something means you are challenging it. A contested divorce is not agreed upon by both parties, and it must be handled in court. Each state has a different process for contested divorces. Some even expect you to raise formal accusations to justify the divorce.
In most U.S. states, divorcing couples can bypass formal accusations. They can simply cite “irreconcilable differences” and proceed with the divorce from there. This is called an “uncontested” divorce. In this scenario, you can avoid court altogether.
When spouses agree to a divorce, they have several choices for moving forward. Here are three of the most common.
1. Couples Do Everything Themselves
Ultimately, you can control an uncontested divorce. If you both agree to it, then you should both be allowed to oversee it.
If the divorce is amicable, and you can still work with your spouse, you have the right to make every decision on your own. Nothing is off-limits. You can create agreements on spousal and child support, property division, child custody, and anything else that is important to you. Once the agreement is finalized, you can submit it to the court and move on.
In this scenario, we always recommend that you bring your agreement to an attorney first. Most people find that they left something out. Sometimes, an agreement that makes sense on paper is pragmatically possible. A good attorney can help you locate these pitfalls before they get finalized, keeping you free from a legally murky situation.
2. Couples Attend Mediation
If you need help negotiating the terms of your divorce, and most couples will, you should consider mediation.
In this process, you hire a neutral legal professional to help you communicate. A good mediator has psychological training that helps people reach the middle ground. They can calm everyone down if emotions flare, and they can come up with creative solutions that help you get closer to what you want.
In the best-case scenarios. The mediator works for both spouses. They aren’t trying to secure a “win” for one person or another. However, attending any legal discussion can be intimidating for some. Luckily, you are allowed to bring a representative into the mix. This can be a friend, colleague, or even another lawyer.
The goals remain the same, even if you have representation. Everyone is working toward the best solution for all stakeholders. A representative simply helps you communicate better.
3. Couples Participate in a Collaborative Divorce
Another option is going through a collaborative divorce. The process is like mediation, only there are more people involved.
In a collaborative divorce, each spouse has their own lawyer. After meeting privately with their attorneys, everyone meets together to hash out the details of the divorce.
The key word in this process is “collaboration.” Like mediation, no one is trying to “win.” You have your own attorney to hear your wants and needs, but everyone works together toward agreeable solutions. Attorneys can even recommend one another for the job since they aren’t on opposing sides.
You can also bring other professionals into the conversation. For instance, you can include financial experts, mental health experts, or child psychologists.
Taking your divorce to court is expensive. Most uncontested divorces cut that expense down significantly. Because a collaborative divorce includes so many more people, the cost goes up. Depending on how long it takes, that cost may rival a courtroom divorce. It does, however, give you power over your divorce. In court, you must abide by the rulings no matter how unfair they are. If you can afford a collaborative divorce, its outcomes can make life much easier tomorrow.
Our firm can help you and your spouse reach mutually beneficial solutions in your uncontested divorce. For a free consultation, call us today at (407) 753-4111, or schedule time with us online.