Is Your Divorce Really Uncontested?

women, gavel and scalesI often have clients retain me for the minimal retainer that an uncontested divorce requires in terms of legal services and court costs.  Sometimes, however, what is presented by the client as an uncontested matter actually is a matter with significant differences of opinion between the parties on one or all issues of the marriage. For example,, the parties have a real difference of opinion on the division of marital assets or the assignment of marital debt or the custody, parenting time, and support of the children, or spousal maintenance ( alimony). One party may be convinced that he/she has an agreement only to find out that the other party has no intention of accepting terms.

The foregoing situation usually results in a misunderstanding between counsel  and client: Client wants to know why the law firm cannot continue to do the divorce for the least amount and the law firm wants to know from the Client – how are you going to go ahead with an uncontested divorce when your spouse is not agreeing to anything?

When retaining counsel be very certain that your matter is uncontested if that is what you are contracting for in legal services.  The following article may aid you in knowing whether your divorce is really uncontested

What is the Distinction Between an Uncontested Divorce and a Contested Divorce?

Family matters proceed through the judicial system in one of two ways with slight variations. An uncontested matter means that parties to an action have been able to resolve their differences and have entered into an agreement, which then becomes a court order binding the parties.

For example, in an uncontested divorce proceeding, many couples are able to agree on all issues such as an equitable property division, custody of the children and parenting schedules, child support and/or alimony, if proper, and division of debt, if any.

Uncontested divorces may involve marriages where one party has an attorney and presents the couples’ agreements for drafting to the attorney. In these types of uncontested matters, the attorney for one party drafts and submits all the necessary documents to the court, which include the summons, petition, certificate of representation, confidential statement, marital termination agreement, findings of fact, conclusions of law, order for judgment and judgment and decree, summary real estate disposition, and any proposed orders dividing retirement funds. An attorney may represent only one of the married parties in a divorce proceeding.

In comparison, contested divorces are those divorces where couples cannot agree on any issues or disagree on several issues. Contested divorces may involve frequent court appearances to litigate temporary support, custody, parenting time, payment of debts, occupancy of the parties’ home, or other issues that the couple dispute. Ultimately, contested divorces may end up in trial with exhibits and witnesses. Couples may go to trial on just one or two things that they cannot agree about or on all the areas of dispute.

The foregoing models apply to all family law matters and not just divorces. Both parties in any legal action have an opportunity to proceed in an uncontested matter or a contested matter. Both parties have an opportunity to try to mediate or come to some alternative resolutions of their differences. Contested legal matters are always more expensive than uncontested matters. So it pays to try to settle as many areas of dispute as possible.

© 2010 Kate Willmore, Attorney at Law, 1407 33

Call (320) 217-6030 or E-Mail:

Copyright 2014 Kate Willmore Attorney at Law

About Kate Willmore, Esq.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, divorce, custody and family attorney brings over 25 years experience to every client's legal matter. *** Licensed in Minnesota and in California

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