When someone considers divorce, it is easy to imagine an intense battle with emotions running high and each party fighting to get what he or she wants. However, many people going through divorce would prefer to take steps to avoid prolonged and unpleasant fights, and may seek an uncontested divorce.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which the parties are able to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce – such as property division, child support, and spousal maintenance – and present that to the judge. A contested divorce is a divorce in which the parties are unable to come to an agreement, and proceed through a divorce hearing in which each party makes his or her case for his or her desired outcome – such as why one person should be awarded the house or custody of the children – and the court decides on the terms of the divorce.
As a practical matter, it is rare that any case will be truly uncontested. While parties may agree on some terms, it is unlikely that they will agree immediately on each and every term of the divorce. Sometimes, parties may agree on every term but one – such as who gets the family dog – and an inability to agree on that term brings the parties to court for a hearing.
Options to Facilitate Uncontested Divorce
For those who are unable to come to an agreement, but are willing to work towards one to avoid a hearing, there are some options to address a disagreement on terms. Parties may work through their attorneys to negotiate on those terms in dispute, and reach a compromise. In addition, parties may seek out the support of a mediator. In a mediation, the parties may still be represented by attorneys but would work with a neutral third-party to facilitate the negotiation and focus on reaching an agreeable outcome for each party. In addition, there are other forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration or collaborative family law, that may help facilitate an agreement to the terms of the divorce.
Benefits of Uncontested Divorce
There are many reasons why parties may work to ensure that their divorce is uncontested and that they avoid an adversarial court battle. If the parties have children in common, dragging their children through a contentious hearing may be unpleasant and traumatizing for their children. In addition, it may be easier to co-parent after an amicable divorce, than it would be after a difficult and emotional trial.
An uncontested divorce may feel more satisfying than a hearing, in which it is possible to feel as though the outcome was unjust. Along those same lines, avoiding a difficult hearing may also make the process less difficult and challenging. As a practical matter, avoiding a prolonged court battle may save on court costs, and make the divorce more affordable.
An uncontested divorce, including negotiation and mediation, is not the right option for everyone. If you have questions about your divorce and whether there may be some options to facilitate the process and reach agreement, contact our experienced attorneys at the SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC, in Rolling Meadows, for a free initial consultation.