Obviously, the less you have to fight with your spouse over assets, children or any other issues divorcing couples disagree on, the less money you will both end up spending and the quicker the divorce will become final. An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree on asset and debt division, spousal support, child custody, visitation and child support. Full financial disclosure is at the heart of an uncontested divorce as each spouse will prepare a financial affidavit, which will be filed with the court.
In uncontested divorces with children, a child support guideline worksheet will be included as well as a comprehensive parenting plan. If you believe you and your spouse can agree on the issues surrounding your divorce, the attorneys at The Law Place can assist you in obtaining that goal. Our attorneys can draw up your Marital Settlement Agreement and go to court with you for the final hearing. In uncontested divorce cases, the cost is greatly lessened and in many cases the divorce can be finalized within 30-60 days of the time you and your spouse reach an agreement.
The Process for a Florida Uncontested Divorce
A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must still be filed by one of the spouses, as well as a number of other pleadings which must be filed and signed by one or both parties, however the Respondent in the divorce need not be served by a process server. If you and your spouse have reached agreements regarding property division, spousal support, time-sharing, parental responsibility and child support if there are children, and all other issues in your divorce, then your attorney can prepare all the necessary paperwork.
If you have children, a Parenting Plan will be prepared and the court will require proof that both parents attended a court-approved parenting course. Despite how friendly your uncontested divorce may be, you and your spouse may not share an attorney. Your attorney can prepare all the papers for the divorce, then send them to your spouse, who will have them reviewed by his or her own attorney. Both spouses are required to have Financial Affidavit forms prepared. At the final hearing of your uncontested divorce, only the Petitioner is required to attend, however if the wife in the divorce is seeking a name change, she must also attend regardless of whether she is the Petitioner or the Respondent.
The hearing is generally brief; the judge will ask you whether the marriage is irretrievably broken, whether there is a Settlement Agreement which has been voluntarily signed by both parties, as well as a Parenting Plan if there are children involved. You will also be asked whether you have been a resident of the state of Florida for the six months prior to the filing of your divorce. The judge will review your paperwork to ensure all requirements are properly met before approving your divorce.
Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
The primary benefits of an uncontested divorce include:
• Costs much less—When couples argue and debate every issues surrounding their divorce, the costs can mount to an alarming level. The uncontested divorce keeps costs for both parties down to a manageable level.
• Takes much less time—in some cases an uncontested Florida divorce can be completed in two-three weeks from the time all the paperwork is completed and agreed upon. The variable in this process is the availability of the judge’s divorce calendar as well as your attorney’s own schedule.
• Generally speaking, there are fewer hard feelings at the end of the process during an uncontested divorce.
• The uncontested divorce is usually much easier on the children. When children see that their parents are able to have civil discussions about the future, it alleviates some of their anxiety about their own future.
What if the Process Derails?
Occasionally, couples start the process of an uncontested divorce with the very best of intentions, however the process falls apart along the way. A couple who may have truly believed there would be few disputes over how the assets and debts would be divided or how the Parenting Plan would be set out may be dismayed to find there are disagreements. When the couple is unable to reach a mutual agreement on all aspects of the divorce, the uncontested divorce turns into a contested or litigated divorce. This is a very different process, taking longer and costing considerably more than an uncontested divorce.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
In the State of Florida, if you and your spouse meet the following criteria, you may be able to file a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage:
• You have no children under the age of 18
• There is no current pregnancy involved
• Either you or your spouse have lived in the state of Florida for the past six months
• Provisions which are satisfactory to yourself and your spouse have been made regarding property division and payment of debts.
• You and your spouse both agree your marriage is irretrievably broken and cannot be repaired
• You and your spouse both agree that you will use the simplified dissolution of marriage procedure
• You and your spouse are both aware that neither of you has the right to expect money, property or support from the other aside from what is included in your property settlement.
• You and your spouse are both aware that you may be giving up certain legal rights you might have had if you had gone the more “traditional” divorce route.
• You and your spouse must both be present at the final hearing.
A unique feature of the Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is that you and your spouse are allowed to waive the requirement that you both file a Financial Affidavit.
How We Can Help
At The Law Place, we know that the less our attorneys are required to argue in court on your behalf, the less money you will spend and the faster the process will go. If you and your spouse are able to agree on an uncontested divorce or meet the requirements for a simplified dissolution, we can help ensure either process goes smoothly. In the end, you can save time, money and a considerable amount of aggravation by working out as many divorce issues as possible with your spouse and allowing our attorneys to file your uncontested divorce.