When Is a Divorce Really Uncontested?
If you are considering pursuing a New Jersey marriage dissolution case, you undoubtedly have a number of questions. In addition to questions, if you are like many people seeking to end your marriage, before the proceedings actually commence, you may think your divorce will be uncontested. That perception about the type of case you think you will have necessitates circling back to divorce questions. A key question in this regard is when is a New Jersey divorce really uncontested?Definition of an Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties are not in dispute over matters associated with the dissolution of their marriage. When a divorce truly is uncontested, a more streamlined resolution of the case is possible. What this means is that a divorcing couple is able to settle the case between themselves. They enter into a settlement agreement. In a truly uncontested divorce, a couple is able to avoid court proceedings like a trial.What an Uncontested Divorce Is Not
Many people make a very basic mistake when they consider what constitutes an uncontested New Jersey divorce. These individuals believe that if both spouses want to end the marriage, they have an uncontested divorce.Attributes of an Uncontested Divorce
There are a number of attributes that many truly uncontested divorces have in common. There are exceptions inasmuch as an uncontested divorce might be possible even in the absence of these attributes. With that said, if these attributes are present in a case, it truly is far more likely that an uncontested marriage dissolution process will be possible.
The more commonplace attributes of an uncontested divorce include:
- No minor children are involved in the case.
- Spouses have a smaller amount of assets and debt.
- Spouses are able to communicate directly with one another fairly well.
- Marriage has been for a shorter amount of time.
- Neither party seeks alimony or spousal support.
- Parties do not own a home.
It is important to bear in mind that a divorce that does start out as uncontested may end up being hotly contested. A couple beginning the marriage dissolution process may believe that they are on the proverbial same page and have everything under control. And that may be the case – for a while.
The stark reality is that even in instances in which a couple has a decent relationship as far as divorce proceedings go (at the start of a case), issues can arise that can prove to be hotly contested between the parties. While this oftentimes involves larger matters, disputes can arise over what an observer might call more trivial issues. Major or trivial, a once uncontested divorce can devolve into an all-out “war.”Necessity of Legal Assistance in an Uncontested Divorce
Even if a divorce fairly can be classified as uncontested at the start, the need for legal counsel remains. Divorce related paperwork must be prepared and presented to the court. Court procedures and processes must be followed. Documents prepared by your spouse (or his or her legal counsel) need to be reviewed.
The bottom line is that even in an uncontested divorce, your legal rights are at issue. You are wise to consult with a New Jersey divorce lawyer to ensure that these rights truly are protected throughout the marriage dissolution proceedings.
As an aside, even in an uncontested divorce, an attorney can only represent one of the parties. Legal counsel can only provide advice to one of the spouses in a New Jersey marriage dissolution proceeding.Creating a Settlement Agreement
Ultimately, at the heart of a truly uncontested divorce, a settlement agreement needs to be prepared and signed by both parties to a case. (The settlement agreement represents a prime document that a divorcing couple is wise to have prepared by a qualified, experienced divorce attorney.)
The court will need to approve the settlement agreement. The court nearly always will do so unless there is a significant problem with the document or the agreement itself. Once approved, the court includes the settlement agreement and its contents as part of the divorce decree issues in a particular marriage dissolution case. If you are thinking about filing for a divorce, call us today for a free consultation at 201-845-7400.