In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on the issues of the divorce, including property division, alimony, custody, and child support. Uncontested divorces can save time and expense and reduce stress for the parties. If you want to obtain an uncontested divorce in Florida, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the issues and reach mutually acceptable solutions with your spouse.Requirements
In order to obtain an uncontested divorce, the divorcing spouses must reach a compromise on all the issues of the divorce, and certain requirements must be met:
- If the couple has any minor or dependent children, a detailed parenting plan has been created;
- The amount of child support has been agreed upon;
- The spouses agree on the division of assets and debts;
- The existence, amount, or duration of alimony is not in dispute;
- All other issues are settled;
- At least one spouse has been a Florida resident for the six months prior to filing for divorce;
- Both spouses agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken; and
- Both spouses are willing to sign the necessary documents.
In a contested divorce, the spouses would go to court to resolve some or all of these issues, and the judge would have the final say in any disputes. But in an uncontested divorce, the parties negotiate the terms of the divorce without the court’s assistance. Though they may have to compromise, they retain ultimate control over the decisions, and need not agree to a settlement that is unacceptable.Settlement Agreement
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses sign a marital settlement agreement that sets out the agreements on the issues. They may file the settlement agreement with the court along with the petition and other pleadings, including the financial affidavit, in which each spouse makes a full financial disclosure to the other.
Before the divorce is finalized, there will be a brief final hearing in court before a judge, who must approve the settlement agreement. Only the spouse who originally petitioned for divorce need attend, though if the wife wants a name change, she also must attend.
Before approving the settlement agreement, the judge will ensure that both spouses understand and voluntarily signed the agreement. The judge will also make sure that the parenting plan, which outlines agreements on timesharing and custody, protects the children’s best interests. The court will also ensure that any agreed-upon child support amount is in compliance with Florida law.Benefits
Uncontested divorces are cheaper, easier, and faster than contested divorces. Discovery costs are reduced and less time is spent in court, meaning that court costs and attorney’s fees are both lower.
Additionally, uncontested divorces are generally lower in stress. One of the most difficult parts of many divorces is the disputes and arguments that occur. When a couple is able to reach a compromise, the divorce becomes a much less unpleasant process. This is especially important if children are involved. Minimizing contention can help to maintain stability and protect the children from some of the emotional stress of a divorce by maintaining pleasant family relations.
Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation.