Uncontested Divorce and How It Works

Chantal Tanner

Uncontested Divorce and How It Works

Family Law
| 5 min
5 Min

Most people associate divorce with high conflict, angry confrontations and endless disputes. However, the process is not always about arguments in a divorce court, screaming at each other and settling scores. Some couples manage to remain civil and agree to settle their divorce issues amicably. Such couples have what is known as an uncontested divorce.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce happens when neither party in marriage disputes the divorce and its related terms. Simply put, an uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree to end the marriage and come to an agreement on all the associated issues, including child custody and support, division of marital property, and spousal support if any. The couple agrees to end their marriage quietly and with dignity.

While every divorce is unique, ending a marriage is hard on almost everyone. Having an uncontested divorce is hard to accomplish for many spouses. Mostly, an uncontested divorce is possible where both spouses agree to be reasonable about their situation. Primarily, it works where a couple exercises maturity and acceptance about the marital conflict.

Even when there is disagreement, a spouse quickly realizes that they cannot control an uninterested partner. Where children are involved, both spouses may decide to look beyond their needs and have an uncontested divorce. They agree that the negative impact on children might be lesser compared to a contested divorce where there is likely to be high conflict and angry confrontations. 

How Does an Uncontested Divorce Work?

A typical uncontested divorce is where both spouses sit down and come to an agreement about how they will handle the divorce process even before it starts. It works where spouses have a relatively cordial relationship or are pragmatic about the situation. They agree that they and not the court should decide how their lives will look after the marriage.

The spouses agree on fundamental issues, including how to divide all marital property and if they have children, they agree on a parenting plan. They come up with a marital settlement agreement which they sign and present to the court when filing for divorce. However, the spouses will still need to submit all documents necessary to initiate a divorce, including a divorce Petition.

Divorcing spouses can handle the divorce on their own or with the help of an attorney. They do not necessarily have to go to court once they agree on all the divorce-related issues. They must file relevant court forms and a signed marital settlement agreement. The agreement details how they will handle issues such as custody arrangements, division of property and spousal support if any. 

However, the marital settlement agreement must be approved by a judge before the court can issue a divorce. The agreed-upon terms must be reasonable and fair to all the parties involved, including the children (if any). 

Most judges have no problem approving an uncontested divorce settlement unless they suspect that the agreed terms are unfair to one party or one of them was under duress when they agreed. In case there are no issues, and the judge approves the settlement, the divorce becomes final as soon as the stipulated waiting period elapses. In California, the waiting period is six months from the date of filing.

Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce

By agreeing on all the divorce issues, divorcing spouses do not only simplify the process, but they make the process far less expensive and faster. It reduces the need for expensive court processes. The reduced cost makes uncontested divorce one of the cheapest ways of dissolving a marriage. Additionally, if the spouses can avoid conflict throughout the process, uncontested divorces are private and dignified. The reduced conflict helps lessen the stress associated with divorce, while also making the divorce process quicker.

Bottom Line

Regardless of how a marriage ends, the process is hard, and in most cases, it triggers negative emotions. Mostly, the emotions make it hard for divorcing spouses to agree on anything even on whether or not they should divorce. However, by putting aside these emotions, spouses can handle divorce in a civil and dignified way. Instead of letting a third party in the legal system decide their fate, spouses in an uncontested divorce decide to make divorce decisions on their terms. 

5 Min
Oct 29, 2019
Chantal Tanner