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Uncontested Divorce

To many, divorce is synonymous with courtroom shouting matches between bitter exes. Yet the reality can be much different.

Most divorces are uncontested. This means that the spouses agree on every aspect of their divorce, from property division to child custody. On their own or with professional help, the spouses draft a settlement agreement detailing the agreed-upon terms of their divorce and file it with the court.

Uncontested divorces streamline the divorce process and often result in spouses abiding by their divorce judgment since they set the terms.

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What is an uncontested divorce?

A divorce is uncontested when spouses agree on every term, usually from the outset of their case.

The terms you must agree on include:

  • The ground for divorce (if required)
  • Responsibility for paying off joint debts
  • Spousal support (if any)
  • Division of marital property

If you have children, you must include a parenting plan that at least covers legal custody and physical custody.

An uncontested divorce is often not feasible if there's high conflict or power imbalances between the spouses.

You might hear an uncontested divorce called a no-contest divorce or amicable divorce. In some locations, uncontested divorce for spouses without children is called simple or simplified divorce.

Uncontested versus contested divorce

The terms uncontested and contested refer to whether spouses disagree on the terms of their divorce.

The spouse who doesn't file for divorce gets a certain amount of time to reply. If they respond on time to dispute any claim made in the petition, the divorce is contested. If they don't respond or if they respond to confirm that they agree with everything in the petition, the divorce is uncontested.

In both cases, you'll pay the same fees to file a petition. You'll also need to meet the residency requirement and provide copies of your paperwork to your spouse (called service). Service isn't required if you file a joint petition for divorce. (See Joint petition for divorce below.)

Uncontested divorces are cheaper and quicker than contested divorces. In a contested divorce, a year could pass before you have a trial. There's also more paperwork to file and higher costs as lawyer fees rack up while the case goes on.

A contested case can end in an agreement, and an uncontested case can become contested if either spouse backs out of the agreement.

How long does an uncontested divorce take?

Typically, you can get an uncontested divorce within a few months. The timeline may vary depending on the caseload of your local court. Plus, some locations require a period of separation before either spouse can file for divorce.

After filing your agreement, you may have to attend a short hearing. The judge will want to see that it is fair, that both spouses entered into it willingly, and that all child-related terms are in the child's best interest.

How much does an uncontested divorce cost?

The cost of an uncontested divorce depends on how you choose to prepare your agreement.

If you and your spouse negotiate a settlement agreement on your own, you'll only have to pay the filing fees to hand in your paperwork. Filing fees are usually at least a few hundred dollars.

If you have complex finances and assets, consider hiring a lawyer to craft your agreement. Some lawyers charge a flat rate for uncontested divorce, while others charge hourly.

Another option is to try an alternative dispute resolution method. Here, professionals will help you iron out the terms of your agreement. Methods vary in cost but are much cheaper than litigation.

There are online divorce services that supply all the necessary divorce forms and give instruction on how to complete them. These services cost anywhere from $150 to $500.

Default divorce

A default divorce is a divorce granted without the participation of one spouse.

If you petition for divorce first, your spouse is expected to respond within a certain amount of time after receiving notice of the case. If they don't, the court schedules a short hearing to decide whether to grant the divorce. If the court approves, you may get everything you asked for in your petition.

Some jurisdictions let spouses agree to a default divorce to get an uncontested divorce automatically.

Joint petition for divorce

Your court may allow you and your spouse to file a joint application for divorce. Filing a joint application can get you an uncontested divorce judgment even more quickly.

There isn't a petitioner and respondent in these cases. Instead, the spouses are co-petitioners. You won't have to serve your spouse with paperwork, saving you time and the cost of hiring a process server.

Co-parenting after your divorce settlement

If you don't have a child, you may not need to have much communication with your spouse after you part ways.

But if you have a child with your spouse, your divorce settlement is only the beginning of your new co-parenting relationship. A co-parenting app can be vital to making it work.

The Custody X Change online app has a thorough set of co-parenting tools: shared calendars, parent-to-parent messaging, expense tracking and more.

Turn to Custody X Change to ensure the best possible future for your child and your evolving family.

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Explore examples of common schedules

Examples:

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