Divorce by Agreement

Many people find that the court hearing in an uncontested divorce to be anti-climatic compared to the emotional trauma they went through in making the decision to divorce.  Uncontested divorce hearings are usually quick and painless.

Uncontested Divorce Procedures

Exact uncontested divorce procedures may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but they have the following actions in common:

  • Maybe held before a court master as opposed to a judge
  • Several hearings are scheduled for the same day or time
  • Only the petitioning party is required to be present, the presence of the responding party is optional.
  • Attorney representation is not always required
  • The master reviews the paperwork to make sure jurisdictional, service and notice requirements have been met and will verify mailing addresses
  • The hearing usually lasts less than half an hour
  • The petitioner is required to state on the record the grounds for the divorce
  • The master will ask if there are ancillary matters over which the court needs to retain jurisdiction such as custody, support (spousal and child) or visitation
  • The spouse can request a return to maiden or previous name at this time without additional cost
  • The master will advise the parties of the waiting period before the divorce becomes final.
  • Parties can submit an signed separation or settlement agreement and ask that it become part of the final divorce decree.

In some jurisdictions, the uncontested divorce hearing is not scheduled until the separation period has passed.  There then may be an additional 10 to 30 days after the hearing before the divorce becomes final and the divorce decree is issued.

Ninety-five percent of divorces today are uncontested despite the emotional aspect of divorce.  It is not uncommon for the divorce itself to be uncontested and the parties request the court to retain jurisdiction over some other aspect of the dissolution of the marriage, such as custody or child support.  Alternative dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration has made it much less likely that couples seeking to dissolve their marriage will have contentious divorce hearings.

Do you need a lawyer?

If your marriage was short, with no children born or adopted during the marriage and no property to be divided.  You may be able to take advantage of the self-help kind of uncontested divorce.  Do not hesitate to seek legal counsel if your situation is unique or to determine what the best method of dissolving your marriage is.

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