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Is my divorce uncontested?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2024 | Divorce

“I think my divorce is uncontested but I’m not sure. What do you think?”

This is a common question asked by individuals facing divorce. The answer is often straightforward, but let’s dive in a bit deeper.

What makes divorces take “forever” isn’t whether the parties agree or disagree about getting divorced. The real delay comes from the parties determining how to best divide their stuff. Who gets to keep the home? What is going to happen to your pension? Will anybody need support? Things like that. Of course, in marriages where the parties have children together, this process is even harder as the parties need to determine what the custody and visitation schedule will look like, how much child support should be paid etc.

Sometimes, spouses can figure all of this stuff out between them, removing the need for lawyers or judges to really get involved. That means the divorce is “uncontested” and the only remaining thing to do is just the paperwork. For an uncontested divorce we’ll prepare the documents memorializing the terms you and your spouse have agreed to (often in a Marital Settlement Agreement or commonly known as a “separation agreement”). You and your spouse will sign all of the relevant documents and send them back. Once the documents are returned properly executed, we’ll send it off to court (along with some other miscellaneous paperwork) that effectively says “Judge they’ve already divided their stuff, please divorce these two.” The judge will then sign a Final Decree of Divorce, divorcing the two parties. This process is pretty much pain-free and far cheaper than a contested divorce.

Now if the two parties can’t resolve all of the terms between one another, or you just don’t know what you’re entitled to in Virginia and want a lawyer’s assistance, then you’d have a “contested” divorce. That doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be taken in front of a judge immediately or we need to rush off to court. It just means we need to hammer out some of the terms.

In short, the answer I generally give is “have you and your spouse agreed on how to divide up your assets?” If the answer is “no” then it’s contested. If the answer is “yes” then it’s uncontested.


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