Is an Uncontested Divorce the Best Option for You?
By: Patricia Elizee
What is the Regular Process for a Divorce in Florida?
In the case of regular divorces, one spouse will file for a divorce with the court and the documentation will be served to the other spouse through a process server or local sheriff. In this instance, the spouse that files for the divorce is considered the petitioner and the other is the respondent. Once the respondent has received the papers, they must file a written answer with the court. For an uncontested divorce, both spouses must agree on all divorce-related issues such as division of property, debts, alimony, child support, and child custody. By agreeing on all issues, there is no reason for a court proceeding. However, this leaves out the discovery phase of a divorce that allows each side to disclose all finances or assets. If at any given moment both parties cannot come to an agreement a mediation can be conducted. All divorce-related issues must be agreed upon in a marital settlement agreement in order to attend a final hearing. In the event, an agreement cannot be met regarding any issues surrounding property, debt, childcare, and so forth, then a contested divorce will be established. As a result, a trial will proceed where both spouses appear before a judge and make their case. The court will then make a final decision on all remaining issues. On this account, a divorce can shift between uncontested or contested especially when children or assets are involved.
What are Some of the Pros and Cons of Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is advantageous over a contested divorce, in that:
It usually involves reduced processing times, fewer legal fees, and less stress. This allows each person to move on peacefully.
Both spouses are in complete control of the outcome and the entire process of an uncontested divorce can often be completed in less than 30 days.
An uncontested divorce will generally cost far less in attorney’s fees and court-associated costs for both parties.
There will be less paperwork and less information being published in county records thus allowing complete privacy.
An uncontested divorce is the quickest and easiest path to dissolve a marriage in Florida.
Despite these many pros, an uncontested divorce may not be suitable, and court proceedings are necessary. Situations such as:
Complex divorce cases involving property disputes or domestic violence, the divorce will likely progress to court.
Uncontested divorce is not the best option if there is a history of domestic violence, emotional abuse, or some other disparity in power in the relationship. It may lead to one spouse having an unfair advantage to the other.
The disadvantaged party can contest certain aspects of the divorce to ensure that each party receives what they’re entitled to.
If one or both of the parties continuously disagrees on an issue, then the matter must be resolved by a judge.
Differences between an Uncontested Divorce and a Contested Divorce?
Some significant differences between an uncontested and a contested divorce is the legal process, cost, and time. The main difference between an uncontested and a contested divorce is that a contested divorce involves adversarial proceedings. As one party may disagree with a particular issue, he or she may file a counterclaim. Spouses going through a contested divorce are more likely to spend money on attorney’s fees and expert witness fees (such as financial consultant’s or appraisers) than a couple that agrees on most divorce-related issues. The divorce proceedings of an uncontested divorce are mainly amongst both spouses who agree on all issues with little to no court involvement. In contrast, a contested divorce requires a supreme court justice to finalize and resolve divorce-related issues such as child support, child custody, etc. Additionally, an uncontested divorce is more efficient, and hearings can be as short as 10 minutes. A contested divorce can be more time consuming. When considering a divorce, consider these aspects and how you wish to conduct your transition.