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A divorce is a time of upheaval and change in the lives of both parties. Fortunately, not all divorces have to be a battle that wastes time and money. When both spouses agree on the major issues involved, the divorce is considered uncontested. If you and your ex-partner can come together on matters such as parenting time, child support and the division of property, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing your separation will be much simpler than the bitter fights you’ve witnessed in family and friends. Not all divorces are uncontested, which is why you need a divorce lawyer.
A Cost-Efficient Solution
One of the greatest benefits of an uncontested divorce is the amount of money saved. By agreeing on significant issues that can take other couples years or months to figure out, you’ll avoid extensive court appearances that usually rack up fees at an astonishing pace. Your attorney fees will also be much lower than they would if your ex-spouse was keen to argue about every issue. Even if there remains some minor points the two of you are unsure of, a knowledgeable attorney can help you smooth out the wrinkles without straining your bank account.
Is a Lawyer Necessary?
You might be tempted to file paperwork on your own in the case of an uncontested divorce, but going it alone is not advisable. Though the process will be more straightforward than in a contested separation, there’s still no room for error when it comes to legal paperwork. Filing the wrong statement at the wrong time is all too easy, and those previously low paperwork fees will quickly double when you have to re-file an erroneous document. Hire a proper attorney and let them handle the legal jargon while you focus on reorganizing your life.
Is this Right for Me?
While uncontested divorces are certainly preferable, they’re not realistic in every situation. Not every state allows couples with children to have uncontested divorces. If you do have a minor child, consider whether your ex-partner is willing to fully agree with you on custody arrangements. If any dispute regarding a child comes up, it may be too major to proceed with this method of divorce. Likewise, child and spousal support are two issues that often cause major roadblocks in the separation process. Be sure that both parties are aware of the financial agreement and have no qualms with it before you file. Finally, make certain that your ex doesn’t have sticky fingers when it comes to the division of property. You can’t cut the dog in half, and only one of you will continue living in the home you used to share. Whatever you decide, double-check that your spouse is on board before going forward.
A Simple and Straightforward Method
While no divorce is completely stress-free, an uncontested separation holds many benefits over contested divorce. Lower attorney fees and less court visits means a more peaceful transition for everyone. If your situation is relatively agreeable, contact an attorney today to get started on your uncontested divorce.
A settlement agreement is the document that lays out the things that you and your spouse have agreed on in the divorce. It spells out the exact agreements you’ve come to, and eliminates the need for the judge to make these decisions for you. A settlement agreement can include any number of things, including: child support, custody and visitation; spousal maintenance (AKA alimony); and distribution of assets and debts. It can include all of those things, or only some of them.
Can you change it? The answer depends.
Before the divorce is final
Before the divorce is made final, you may have a limited amount of time after you’ve signed and filed the settlement agreement during which you can change your mind. However, to do so, you would need to file a motion and present an argument about why the agreement should be rescinded. This is usually easier with an attorney.
There is no guarantee that the judge will agree to rescind the agreement.
After the divorce is final
Once the divorce is final, your options are limited. You can’t try to modify the agreement just because you’ve decided you’re unhappy with it or you’ve decided it isn’t fair.
Certain things that may be in the settlement agreement can be modified, depending on the situation. Child custody, support, and visitation are all matters that can be changed, if there’s been a significant change in circumstances for either party. In fact, changes in those things frequently happen.
Other things, such as the distribution of assets and debts, or spousal maintenance, are generally not modifiable. They were agreed upon when the settlement agreement was signed and filed, and unless you can prove fraud or a drastic change in circumstances, a judge is unlikely to allow any changes.
If both parties agree
One exception after the divorce is final is if both parties are in agreement that they wish to make the modification. If both parties consent, and sign off on, a new agreement, a judge will usually agree to the modification, unless it harms their children or is in some way unfair.
Don’t count on a modification
If you’re unhappy with something in the settlement agreement, don’t count on a modification later to change things. It’s important that you be satisfied with the terms of your settlement agreement before it’s filed, because it is likely permanent.
If you’re confused by something in the settlement agreement, ask your lawyer to help you. If you’re not satisfied with something in the agreement, continue negotiating with your spouse to try to find a better resolution. If you’re unable to agree, remember that a settlement agreement doesn’t have to cover everything. You can allow the judge to make a decision if you and your spouse are unable to find a middle ground that makes you both happy.
Take your time, and don’t let your spouse badger or persuade you to sign the agreement if you’re not happy. It’s better to wait and be satisfied with the settlement agreement, than to rush and find yourself stuck with terms you’re unhappy with later.
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