While marriage is a wonderful thing, and the cornerstone of civilization, not every marriage works. For a variety of reasons, one or both people in the union may eventually decide that it would be healthier for them to be apart.

In this case, either one or both parties of the marriage go to court and ask for a divorce to be granted. If both people are able to agree ahead of time to the divorce, this is considered an uncontested divorce.

In the world that we live in, it is vital to know what your legal options when you go to court. What you do not know about divorce and the law will come back to hurt you and your family.

While it’s easy to assume you know how a divorce works and what it effects, there is more than meets the eye. Every area of your life is impacted in the middle of a divorce, from your housing situation, your family make-up, the kids’ comfort levels, and how much money you have in the bank at the end of the day.

signing a document

If there is a chance that you will be going through a divorce, it is so important to know ahead of time and to know what to do. The more you know the better it will be for you and your family.

Today’s society seemingly has an endless amount of bureaucracy and red tape to deal with. Navigating it by yourself is a Herculean task that can end up leaving you lonely and unsure. Therefore, it’s important to do your research and find the help of an attorney who specializes in family law, specifically divorce, and custody issues.

Disclaimers About this Article

Before we dive into the topics of divorce, uncontested divorce, and other related matters, it’s important we make a disclaimer about this article.

The specifics of the law vary from state to state and territory to territory. As you read this article, it’s important to remember that this is not legal advice, but rather it’s only a compilation of information intended to help you make a more informed decision regarding divorce and your family.

This research is only intended to be a launching pad for your personal research into this area of law, before you seek the actual legal advice of an attorney.

Ultimately, if you are seriously considering getting a divorce, you need to make sure to consult with a lawyer who specializes in this area.

Regardless of what side of the divorce you are on, it is important to have legal counsel before you sign any documents or make decisions that will change the course of your life.

When you take the time to understand all of your legal rights and options then divorce begins to look a little less terrifying and that there can be hope.

Once you’ve read this article, and done any other research you feel necessary, please consult a lawyer before taking any further action.

What is Divorce?

Divorce is an official dissolution of marriage. This is the ending of a marital union where the legal obligation and duties are officially ended by the local court.

While the specific laws of divorce will vary from state to state, one of the most consistent elements is that the dissolution is done under a rule of law by a specific authorized representative of the state.

certificate of divorce

It is important to distinguish divorce from annulment. Annulment is a declaration that the marriage itself is null and void. The couple becomes legally separated and cease to live together. The couple is still legally married during this process.

While divorce is generally accepted around the world, there are a few countries where it is illegal.  Some of these countries include the Philippines, Vatican City, and on Sark.

Important issues that inevitably come in divorce include:

  • The distribution of property
  • The division of debt
  • Child custody
  • Child visitation and custody rights
  • Parenting time
  • Child support
  • Alimony – also known as spousal support

As laws vary considerably from state to state, there are different grounds which can be considered during divorce proceedings.

Grounds for divorce can include:

  • The ultimate and irretrievable breakdown of a marriage
  • Adultery and extramarital affairs
  • Physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual abuse
  • One of the members of the marriage is found to be involved in criminal activity of some sort
  • An existing history of what can be reasonably considered unreasonable spousal behavior
  • Neglect or an abandonment of one spouse for a period of time – This time period varies from state to state but tends to be around six or more consecutive months.

What is Uncontested Divorce?

In instances where the two parties involved in the divorce are able to come to an agreement before they arrive at court, they are considered to have come to an uncontested divorce.

This uncontested divorce can be reached with or without some sort of mediator, lawyer, or collaborative counsel. During the making of this agreement, the couple makes the decisions that are regarding children, property, debt, and the need for spousal support.

Once the couple has reached this agreement, they appear in court and present their agreement to the judge. If the court finds the agreement to be both equal and fair, then the judge is very likely to agree to issue the divorce.

Couples who do this work ahead of time save both time and energy for the court, as well as possibly saving money for themselves in less legal fees.

Normally, if the couple cannot come to an agreement, the court will decide for the couple: who gets custody, and the proper split of property and assets.

It is estimated that around 95% of all divorces in the United States are classified as uncontested divorce.

If the couple is able to present their agreement to the court, then often times all the couple ends up doing is filing paper work and paying a fee. In the United States, most states charge a fee somewhere between $175 to $350 to file the documents in court.

How to File an Uncontested Divorce

For an example of how uncontested divorce works, we looked into how the Commonwealth of Virginia has their system set up.

It’s possible to go before a judge and present him with your agreement and have him go ahead and sign off on it without all of the extra time, money, and energy spent in court.

 

  1. The first step involves preparing a Bill of Complaint for divorce. These are available online or from the state’s legal services. It is a very straightforward form.
  2. Take the filled out and signed form and file it with the circuit court.
  3. The next step involves the preparation of a waiver for the spouses to sign. This is also available through the state’s website. This is a waiver that shows that either of the spouses is choosing to oppose the divorce.
  4. Now, you’ll have the papers served. Law forbids you from handing the waiver to your spouse, so you must ask someone else over the age of 18 to deliver it. Once the spouse signs the waiver, he or she should send the waiver back to you.
  5. Next, file the signed waiver with the court. By filing this, it tells the court that the matter is uncontested.
  6. The next step involves getting a child support guidelines worksheet from the court clerk. By filling this paper work, you show how much child support you should owe or receive.
  7. Prepare a property, assets, and child settlement agreement. This will properly divide everything between you and your spouse. This ensures all property is split up, and that child custody issues are worked out. Both parties must sign this document and have it notarized.
  8. Next, attach the property settlement agreement to the proposed divorce decree.
  9. Once filed, the divorce decree states the attached agreement control all issues between you and your soon to be ex-spouse.
  10. Finally, call the court and schedule a hearing. This will be where you make a verbal request for the divorce itself.
  11. Attend the hearing and proceed as the court deems.

When It’s Time to File

man stamping the certificate of divorce

While divorce is an unpleasant and scary topic to think about, it’s important to be willing to ask the hard questions about life, marriage, and where things are going.

As you are making the decisions regarding divorce, it’s important to remember that every state and territory will have its own laws when it comes to divorce and how it works.

It’s important to research and understand, as best you can, what you’re seeking to do. If you’re filing for an uncontested divorce, you may be able to wade through the paperwork and bureaucracy on your own, you should consult a lawyer to guarantee that you’re doing everything properly.

Be sure to find a lawyer who specializes in divorce, custody, and related areas of the law.

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