Divorce can be complex and difficult to navigate, but it is a process that must be handled with as much objectivity and fairness as possible. One of the biggest reasons why divorces are so often full of conflict is because they are rarely straightforward, unless it happens to be what is known as an uncontested divorce, which means that all the legal issues were resolved by mutual agreement of the parties.
What Exactly Is An Uncontested Divorce?
Divorces are either going to proceed as uncontested or contested, wherein one is more complex and time-consuming than the other. In an uncontested divorce – which is also known as an amicable divorce – both people involved have reached an agreement about all the legal issues that typically lead to conflict. A mutual agreement may also be accomplished with a collaborative divorce, much like the amical divorce, but unique in its approach.
These issues may include allocation of personal property, and all matters relating to children in the marriage, such as child custody, child support and possible child relocation in the future.
Steps to Uncontested Divorce In Florida
In Florida, parties that wish to pursue an uncontested divorce must follow these procedures:
- Negotiate the major issues of the divorce, which includes assets, custody agreements, child support, alimony and the allocation of debts.
- Sign a Marital Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan– This is a contract that details all the terms of the divorce, and how each major issue has been resolved. A Parenting Plan is required, where minor children are involved.
- Go through court review – A family court judge must review the Marital Settlement Agreement and approve it. Once the judge approves the agreement, it is signed as an order of the court and a final judgment is rendered to dissolve the marriage.
Advantages of An Uncontested Divorce
When a couple chooses an uncontested divorce, they eliminate potential conflicts that often result in negative retaliation and bitterness. Furthermore, an uncontested divorce typically takes much less time to resolve than a contested divorce, and is also less expensive.
Couples who have settled all major issues in this type of divorce must create a Marital Settlement Agreement, and Parenting Plan if minor children are involved. These are legally binding documents, so any changes that either party wants to make will require a petition to the court.
Why You Should Always Have a Family Lawyer Prepare, Negotiate or Review A Marital Settlement Agreement and/or Parenting Plan
Even though uncontested divorces are designed to eliminate the acrimony that often accompanies a contested divorce, you should never sign a Marital Settlement Agreement or Parenting Plan without having an experienced family law attorney prepare, negotiate or review the document first.
Many legal terms have multiple interpretations, and a family lawyer will ensure that all your rights are protected, especially as it relates to any child custody or child support payments in the settlement agreement.
It’s important to note that if you sign a Marital Settlement Agreement prior to a lawyer reviewing it and then later realize you need something modified, you will have to petition the court to modify the agreement. This may create animosity, and introduce hostility into a process that had previously been harmonious.
An uncontested divorce can save you time and money, and provide you with an agreement that is flexible enough to work for both parties. Instead of having to abide by a court order imposed by a judge that one party may find unfair, couples that choose this type of divorce have made the necessary compromises that lead to a more harmonious outcome.
If you are going through an uncontested divorce, please contact The Law Office of Eric C. Cheshire at 561-655-8844. We have the experience and the resources to help ensure that your divorce proceeds amicably.