What is Uncontested Divorce?
Posted by Mary E. Ramos | Divorce
Divorce can be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life, not only for themselves but for their children and entire family. Uncontested divorces are one way to minimize the stress of this major life event. Uncontested divorces happen when the two spouses agree to a divorce settlement without going through the arduous process of preparing for and testifying in a divorce trial. A divorce attorney can help the parties negotiate an uncontested divorce without the stress of trial or the anger inherent in an adversarial system. In an uncontested divorce, there are no winners or losers, only people agreeing on the best way to end their marriage. A divorce lawyer can guide you through an uncontested divorce, ensure that all of your paperwork is complete and make sure that this process as easy as possible given your life circumstances.
Definition of Uncontested Divorce
Uncontested divorces happen when the spouses agree to the terms of the divorce decree or settlement and one spouse signs a waiver agreeing not to hire an attorney and waiving notice and citation.
When one party files for divorce, they file an Original Petition for Divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the filing spouse simply gives a copy of the petition to their spouse along with a waiver to be signed and proposed final decree of divorce. The proposed final decree includes all the terms of the divorce including the split the marital property, child custody, child support and any other elements that may be at issues. If the two spouses have agreed to the divorce settlement, the non-filing spouse can sign a notarized waiver of service that lets the judge know they consent to the proposed settlement as well as signing the final decree.
In a contested divorce the Petition must be served on the other party by a third party process server. Spouses in a contested divorce have 20 days plus the following Monday in Texas to file an answer to the divorce petition. If an answer is not filed, the petitioner, or spouse who filed the petition, could possibly get a default judgment against the other spouse. Both spouses can hire a divorce attorney to represent them in the case. If the non-filing spouse cannot be found, there are requirements for public notice of service, but eventually the party can be found in default in the divorce, and the filing party’s settlement becomes legally enforceable. A default is similar to an uncontested divorce in that only one decree and one story is presented to the court, but a default decree is not reached as part of an agreement. One spouse has all the say in a default.
What Happens if the Spouse Contests the Divorce?
A spouse contests the terms of the divorce settlement by filing a written answer to the petition for divorce, usually with the aid of a divorce attorney. After the judge receives the answer, they usually issue a temporary restraining order preventing either spouse from stealing marital property, hiding marital assets, harassing the other spouse, stealing mail and engaging in other similar behavior. The judge also rules temporarily on child support and visitation for the couple.
Usually in contested divorces, the two parties continue to negotiate with each other to find an appropriate divorce settlement. This happens as the parties prepare for the legal proceedings of a divorce trial. At a trial a judge or jury holds hearings on dividing marital property, child custody, support and visitation schedules. In many cases the spouses come to an agreement before the trial that covers all elements of the divorce.
The Benefits of a Divorce Lawyer
A divorce lawyer can help their client negotiate an uncontested divorce proceeding before filing for divorce. Divorce lawyers first ascertain whether it’s possible for spouses to settle the elements of their divorce without a trial and prepare the necessary paperwork. In the event that an agreement cannot be reached, however, a divorce lawyer can pursue their client’s interests aggressively in court.
Ramos Law Group, PLLC tries hard to find cooperative solutions to divorce, but also diligently represents their client’s interests in divorce court if an agreement cannot be reached. Contact our office for a free consultation with an attorney today.