We often think of divorce as a lengthy, drawn-out court battle that may linger for years and cost a fortune in attorney fees. Fortunately, not all divorces are like that. In some cases, it makes sense to avoid the expense and delay of a traditional courtroom divorce.
Uncontested divorces typically resolve more swiftly and painlessly than divorces involving heavy conflict. The parties are empowered to make their own decisions rather than allowing the judge to make the decisions for them. They often end up with more satisfying and workable resolutions.
A more collaborative approach may be appropriate for you if:
In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse agree about all the major issues in your divorce—including the division of marital assets and debts, taxes and alimony—and you do not need the court to resolve those issues for you.
If you and your spouse disagree about something, courts will technically consider your divorce to be “contested.” However, you may be able to resolve disagreements before your case is scheduled for trial. Various legal tools — such as mediation and other collaborative techniques — can help resolve any questions or disagreements that do arise during the process.
The process is straightforward. In fact, it’s likely that you will not even have to attend a hearing for your uncontested divorce. Your attorney will file the divorce paperwork (called the “petition for divorce”) for you with the proper court. When you have met the court requirement for living apart, your attorney will obtain a Judgment of Divorce.
Louisiana has set required time limits before parish courts will grant uncontested divorces. If there are no children involved, courts will grant a divorce if the person who filed the divorce (“the petitioner”) shows that 180 days have passed since the petition for divorce was served on the other spouse and, during that time, the spouses have lived separately.
As a way of making the divorce process more efficient, courts also allow the petitioner to count the time that the spouses were living apart before the divorce was filed. If the spouses have already been living apart for 180 days, the court can grant the divorce without requiring the parties to wait longer.
As with most things, there are pros and cons to an uncontested divorce. You should weigh these pros and cons before deciding which course of action to take. If you are unsure, talking with a divorce attorney is a good idea. Here are some things to consider:
These divorces are substantially less expensive than contested divorces, which require both parties to pay attorneys to negotiate matters, file motions, make court appearances and take the divorce to trial. If you are looking for an affordable divorce and can agree with your spouse on important matters, an uncontested divorce is a great option.
With an uncontested divorce, you will have more control over the outcome of your divorce than you would if you took matters to trial. That’s because uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse commit to calmly work out your vision for the best possible solution and come to an agreement together.
People whose divorces involve a great deal of disagreement and who are forced to take matters to court often report higher levels of dissatisfaction with the outcomes. They must comply with the decision made by a judge instead of making the decision for themselves.
Uncontested divorces are not right for couples facing a significant imbalance of power, whether that is financial, situational or emotional. When one spouse has more power than the other, the “agreements” between the parties aren’t truly fair. This is especially true for marriages in which domestic violence is an issue. When one spouse fears the other, they may give up rights and property they otherwise would not. An uncontested divorce isn’t a good choice for people experiencing domestic violence.
Many people think they have an uncontested divorce when they actually do not. Once the spouses start discussing the issues they face and their futures, disagreements often arise. Sometimes, divorces that seemed simple at first can become complicated and the parties need to proceed to trial. The good news? If a conflict arises during your divorce, your divorce lawyer may be able to help you resolve it using mediation or negotiation techniques. Taking matters to trial is not your only option.
“Do I need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce?” It’s a very common question. While uncontested divorces involve far fewer complications than contested cases, that does not mean you should forego an attorney entirely. Professional legal advice is critical to making sure you have covered all the necessary grounds and tied up loose ends. Quick solutions and do-it-yourself divorces often end in disaster for everyone involved. A lawyer can help prevent problems from surfacing down the road.
In Louisiana, contact the law firm of Betsy A. Fischer, LLC. We offer a wealth of experience handling uncontested divorce cases. In fact, our attorney recently authored and published a comprehensive book on Louisiana divorce law. She is well equipped with the skills and knowledge to guide you through the divorce process.
For those committed to making it through divorce unscathed by bitter disputes and endless fighting, we can help you do so.
The cost of an attorney’s guidance is a worthwhile investment compared to the extraordinary costs involved in fixing messes later. We make it an easy choice to consult with an attorney by offering discounted flat-fee guidance in uncontested divorce cases. Unlike hourly billing, you will know exactly how much your divorce will cost. That makes it easier to protect your financial interests throughout the divorce process.
To learn more, please call our Metairie office at 504-780-8232. Consultations are confidential, and there is no obligation to retain our law firm if you feel that we are not the right fit for you. Sometimes, a private talk with a lawyer can help you decide when you are not sure about your options.