Is a Divorce Ever Truly Uncontested?

In my practice, I often encounter clients who come to me for a divorce and state that their divorce should be uncontested. I usually have to tell these clients that even if their case ends up being uncontested, that it does not mean that it will be a simple process to reach their ultimate goal of obtaining a final decree of divorce.

First, for a divorce to be classified as uncontested, there typically has to be agreement on most if not all issues. The broader issues can range from children, child support, spousal support, and property division. However, within these issues there can be raised more detailed points of contention, such as rights and duties to the children, amount of child support, amount and duration of spousal support, if any, who keeps what property, who takes what debts, and how other issues such as selling of a residence or taxes are worked out. After seeing these smaller yet important issues and their effect on the parties post-divorce, the client and their spouse can begin to have disagreements about how to address them. Sometimes, a client comes to hire me and then I end up dealing with their spouse indirectly through my client. Other times, my client’s spouse will hire an attorney and then I will communicate with that attorney on negotiating these various issues. Either way, there will be a lot of room for disagreement as to the final details to be put into a final decree of divorce after addressing these topics with clients. It can end up taking a considerable amount of time to reach a final agreement on the majority of issues in a divorce because of this. This is why when clients come to me for help with a divorce and I am told it will be uncontested, I explain to my client the chance that complications may arise in the future negotiations on these issues. I also urge them to keep an eye out for the details rather than just signing a divorce decree because they want it over with as soon as possible.

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