What is an Uncontested Divorce


Question of the day. What is an uncontested divorce and how does it differ from mediation? I am a mediator for divorce and custody cases and I frequently get this question in consultations or during presentations. An uncontested divorce is what it sounds like, uncontested. That means you and your former partner have an agreement before even meeting with an attorney. Additionally, uncontested divorces and mediated divorces are both very alike and very different.

Uncontested divorce defined. An uncontested divorce or custody case occurs when both parties come in to meet with an attorney and they have already have a pretty good idea of how to divide things. They generally know how they want custody and timesharing to look, they may have already divided property or agreed to sell or refinance the house. They may even generally have an idea regarding child support or spousal support. In these cases, the parties may only need help with some minor issues of contention or drafting of documents. These parties may want an attorney to look things over, draft documents or to guide them minimally. The attorney doesn’t represent either party.

Uncontested divorce contrasted with mediation. A mediated divorce occurs when two parties come in together to meet with an attorney. They know they want a divorce, but really have no idea how to divide things. They don’t understand custody, or spousal support and even if they do understand those concepts, they generally do not agree how to approach those concepts in terms of their divorce. In those cases, the parties will sit down with an attorney to discuss how to divide assets and liabilities, category by category. While the mediating attorney won’t provide legal advice, the attorney will provide legal education. Similar to an uncontested divorce, the attorney meets with and helps the parties, but the attorney doesn’t represent either party.

Why would parties in this instance even need to hire a mediator? A mediator is needed when there is no agreement. Parties may know they don’t want to fight over everything, but they don’t know how to divide things or negotiate custody. They are looking for a neutral third party to help them find a solution. Like in the case of an uncontested divorce, the parties may be looking for an attorney’s expertise in drafting the documents. Although you can access divorce documents online, professionally drafted documents are more detailed and will address many more issues than the online documents address. Without addressing everything, you can expect a lot of headaches in the future.

Advantages to an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces are significantly cheaper than either a litigated divorce or a mediated divorce. You minimize your costs by hiring only one attorney, rather than two. By hiring an attorney, you obtain the attorney’s expertise in drafting the documents. Often documents filed by parties without legal assistance are rejected by the court. Because Michelle Cortez practiced in the Court for nearly 30 years, she knows the required language and the legal nuances needed in order to get your divorce documents approved by the Court.

Costs for an uncontested divorce. Depending on how many documents you need and whether or not the firm files your documents for you, an uncontested divorce generally won’t exceed $1,500 to $2,500. Most documents take about an hour to draft and most divorces require three to four documents.