When a prospective client calls to discuss a divorce, one of the first questions I ask is whether the case is contested or uncontested. This is especially true when people want to know how much I charge for divorce. Uncontested divorces are much cheaper because there are no issues to be decided by a judge or mediator. Most people hope their divorce will be uncontested, but in reality there are very few truly uncontested divorces.
The Uncontested Divorce. An uncontested divorce is one in which both spouses want the divorce. They have discussed the issues: how the property and debts will be divided, whether maintenance will be paid and how much, where the children will live, how much child support will be paid, how much parenting time the non-custodial parent will have with the children. Whatever the issues the soon-to-be ex-spouses face, they have discussed them and have reached an agreement. It is very helpful for the agreement to be in writing, to prevent miscommunication and misunderstanding. Uncontested divorces are rare because if the spouses could communicate and reach consensus, the chances are they wouldn’t be getting a divorce.
The Contested Divorce. By contrast, a contested divorce is one in which there is not an agreement on every issue in the divorce. There are varying degrees of contested divorce. Couples may be able to agree who will get the house, but they can’t agree where the children will reside. Sometimes the opposite is true. In some cases, the parties cannot agree to anything.
Assume the Case is Contested Until It is Not. Unless I know the spouses have an agreement, it is safest for me to assume that the case will be contested. I will take measures to safeguard my clients rights and property until an agreement is assured. I will prepare to present my clients case in court. By preparing for trial, you actually make it more likely that you can reach an agreement in court. When you fail to prepare for trial, you weaken you bargaining position and risk an unfavorable result.
Know Your Rights. When discussing the subject of divorce with your spouse, it is important to know your legal rights. You need to know what you are entitled to so that you can make a fair bargain. Take advantage of my discounted initial consultations for divorce; learn what your rights are; learn what to expect of the process. Then you can negotiate with your spouse with confidence and you will be more likely to reach an agreement that is in your best interest. Call me today.