Laying the Groundwork for Uncontested Divorce
In an uncontested divorce, the parties avoid court hearings on the issues they need to settle. You are not held hostage to the court’s crowded schedule and can move the process forward at your own pace. Talks are held in private, rather than in open court, so your privacy is protected. Very importantly, you can avoid the attorney costs of preparing for trial and litigating the case. And you retain greater control over the outcome, so you are protected from adverse rulings on your parental and property rights. All this is good, but not every couple manages to get through their divorce without contesting one issue or another. So, how can you and your soon-to-be ex increase your chances of success at uncontested divorce?
Uncontested divorce requires you to work cooperatively with a person despite your decision to discontinue your intimate relationship. That dynamic can present serious challenges, and, as with most challenges, preparation is the key. We recommend the following steps:
- Make a self-assessment — Are you ready to sit across a conference table from your spouse and discuss your desires for the future? Have you moved past anger, resentment and disappointment to the point where you can be patient and respectful? You don’t have to feel 100 percent ready, but you should feel more ready than not.
- Talk to your spouse — For uncontested divorce to work, both spouses have to be ready to let go of the relationship and focus on their goals for life after marriage. You also have to be able to trust your spouse, since you must rely heavily on voluntary financial disclosures, rather than subpoenaing documents through the discovery process. Talking to your spouse can help you gauge whether uncontested divorce is a real possibility.
- Examine your finances — You have to be familiar with your financials, so you can set reasonable goals for property division, alimony, and child support.
- Put your children first — Courts decide child custody matters based on the best interests of the children. To reach a negotiated parenting plan, you have to be willing to look at the situation as the court would, and to see your spouse as your children do. If your issues go beyond differences in parenting styles to actual concern that contact with your spouse will be detrimental to your children, you should bring the issue into court.
- Set your goalposts — On every issue, you have to know what you would ideally want and what you would be willing to settle for. If you obtain terms somewhere in the middle, that’s usually a win. But you must not compromise yourself into oblivion. Know where your breaking point is, and push back.
Finally, you should consult a reputable attorney. Divorce is uncharted territory for most people. At Law Offices of Carol M. Galloway, P.A., we’re ready to guide you through these preliminary steps so you can lay groundwork that improves your chances of getting an uncontested divorce. Call our firm at 904-356-7005 to arrange your consultation or contact us online.