7 Tips to Achieve an Uncontested Divorce
(What You Need to Know Now)
Considering divorce? Want to get it over with, start fresh, and move on? This article describes exactly what you need to know about an uncontested divorce. In fact, here are 7 tips that will ease some of your stress, immediately.
Tip #1: Recognize the Two Divorces
Each divorce is really two divorces, one legal and one emotional. With a divorce, everything changes and that is often a hard reality to accept. Do your best to take a deep breath; understand that you, your spouse, and your children are, likely, going through one of the most difficult times of your lives; and don't hesitate to get professional help.
- For the legal divorce, work with a qualified divorce/family law attorney, who will guide you, support you in making good decisions, negotiate with your spouse's attorney, and help the process go as smoothly as possible.
- For the emotional divorce, work with a therapist (or psychologist), who specializes in helping people going through divorce. Never use your children as a sounding board; and, know that talking with family members can sometimes negatively affect the divorce process and your future.
Tip #2: Recognize the Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is a cooperative process. Both spouses sign the necessary documents, communicate, and reach an agreement as to property settlement, alimony, child custody, and child support.
Cooperation is key so the more cooperative and communicative you can be, the better.
Specifically, here are the benefits of an uncontested divorce:
- Less stress and expedited healing
- Faster final divorce decree
- More control over your property settlement, alimony agreement, custody arrangement, and child support terms
- Lower legal fees
- Easier on the children
Tip #3: Understand the Uncontested Divorce Process
You will feel so much more comfortable when you know what to expect during the divorce process. Below describes considerations for the uncontested divorce process:
Part One: What You Need to Do First
- Collect all financial information for you and your spouse, including tax returns, financial statements, investment statements, bank account statements, retirement savings statements, insurance policies, real estate documents, credit card statements, loan applications, debts, expenses, and the like.
- Make a list of your goals, fears, concerns, and questions.
- Consult with a qualified divorce/family law attorney.
- Answer all questions and fill out the forms from your attorney truthfully and completely. Don't cut corners. The more comprehensive you are, the more likely matters will proceed smoothly.
- Consult with a therapist or psychologist.
Part Two: What Your Divorce/Family Law Lawyer Will Help You Do
- Communicate with your spouse's attorney.
- File your Complaint for Divorce.
- Analyze all issues and documentation and educate you so that you can make informed decisions.
- Negotiate a favorable outcome for you. Work out a Settlement Agreement, which outlines the terms of your divorce, as you and your spouse agree. (This agreement is what makes the divorce uncontested.)
- Prepare your Judgment of Divorce.
- Represent you at the uncontested court hearing so that the court will grant your divorce.
Tip #4: Know What to Expect at the Uncontested Divorce Hearing
The uncontested divorce hearing will feel stressful because you and your spouse will likely appear in court and answer questions. Just being in the courtroom can feel uncomfortable. That's normal.
Relax: The Hearing is a Formality Only
- The uncontested divorce hearing is a formality only. The hard work is over.
- You have already negotiated a Settlement Agreement with your spouse and appearing in court is just a hoop to jump through to obtain the final decree.
Relax: This is Exactly What Happens in the Hearing
- You, your spouse, and your lawyers wait in the courtroom until your case is called.
- You and your spouse take an oath, affirming that you will tell the truth.
- Whoever filed the initial divorce complaint (i.e. the "plaintiff") goes first. His or her attorney will ask the plaintiff simple questions such as:
- Date of marriage
- Place of residence
- Names and birthdates of joint children
- Whether there is any chance of reconciliation
- Any grounds for divorce (such as "irreconcilable differences")
- If, and only if, the spouse who didn't file the divorce papers (i.e. the "defendant") filed a counterclaim at the beginning of the divorce proceedings, the defendant's attorney will ask him or her the same or similar questions.
- Your attorney will ask you additional questions and your spouse's attorney will ask him or her questions. Your spouse's attorney does not ask you any questions in an uncontested divorce and you'll know all the questions that your attorney or the court will likely ask you ahead of time.
- The judge will then grant the divorce.
Tip #5: Know the Settlement Agreement Questions Your Attorney Will Ask You in Court
- Is the document I am showing to you the Settlement Agreement?
- Is this your signature?
- Does this Settlement Agreement fully resolve all of the issues between you and your spouse, including custody, support, and the division of assets?
- Have you reviewed the Agreement?
- Do you understand the Agreement?
- Have you considered all aspects of the Agreement?
- Do you think the Agreement is fair and reasonable?
- Do you have any questions for me (or the court) regarding this Agreement?
- Is anyone forcing you to enter into this Agreement?
- Have I been your attorney throughout the course of these divorce proceedings?
- Have I answered all of your questions?
- Are you satisfied with the legal representation I have provided to you?
- Are you under the influence of any medications or substances today that may affect your ability to understand the prior negotiations or what is transpiring today?
- Do you understand that you don't have to enter into this Settlement Agreement and that you could instead go to trial?
- Do you recognize that a trial could have generated results different from those of the Settlement Agreement and that some of those results may have been in your favor and some against?
- Do you understand that if the Judge accepts this Agreement and makes it a part of your divorce judgment that you thereafter waive your right to a trial?
- Do you understand that this is a permanent waiver?
- Do you intend to honor all of the provisions of this Agreement?
- Do you believe that the terms of the Agreement fairly represent your standard of living throughout your marriage and do you believe that your lifestyle was taken into consideration?
- Do you wish for the Court to accept this Agreement and make it a part of your Judgment of Divorce today?
- (As applicable) Would you like to resume your pre-marital surname?
- (As applicable) Do you intend to resume your pre-marital surname in an effort to avoid creditors or criminal prosecution?
- Is your date of birth and social security number accurately type-written on the Judgment of Divorce?
Tip #6: Recognize What the Uncontested Divorce Hearing is Not
uncontested divorce hearing is not a time to air dirty laundry about your spouse or your divorce. It's a process to obtain a final judgment of divorce only.
The court will not entertain or record personal details. You've already worked out a Settlement Agreement; what's happened in the past is no longer legally relevant.
However, what has happened and your feelings are completely relevant to the second part of your divorce, the emotional divorce; and, all dirty laundry, stresses, and anger would be better addressed with your therapist or psychologist. If you would like a recommendation regarding a reputable therapist or psychologist in your area, please contact our office and we would be happy to recommend someone to you.
Tip #7: What to Do After the Divorce is Finalized
Keep your divorce decree, Settlement Agreement, and other important papers in a safe place such as a fire safe. Keep them forever, but maintain a copy in a handy place for more regular ease of reference. You should make a list of all of your post-divorce administrative to-dos, such as changing your Last Will and Testament, beneficiary designations on life insurance, change title ownerships to vehicles, divide accounts as per the terms of the final agreement, etc. While there may be some clean-up work to accomplish, at this point, you've made it. Congratulations!
Best of luck with a bright, fresh, and new future.
Where to Get Help
If you have questions about how an uncontested divorce would
work in your individual situation or if you want one of our experienced New Jersey
divorce/family law attorneys to represent you in an uncontested divorce,
contact us at (888) 888-0919 or click here for a free
consultation. You are not alone.
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