What is Uncontested Divorce?
Uncontested divorce isn’t a separate process from the standard Arizona divorce process. It’s simply a quicker, easier, lower-stress, often less expensive way to get divorced. Here’s how it works.
The parties in an uncontested divorce case reach an agreement on all issues in the case. Depending on the case, this may include:
- How assets will be divided
- Who will be responsible for which debts
- The terms of custody and visitation
- Child support
- Spousal maintenance
If any issue remains unresolved for the court to decide, the divorce is not considered uncontested and a contested hearing will be scheduled. However, the parties may still be able to save time and money by agreeing on as many issues as possible.
Is Uncontested Divorce Right for You?
There are several advantages to an uncontested divorce. For example:
- An uncontested divorce case moves much faster–you can be divorced as soon as 60 days from the filing of the petition
- An uncontested divorce case is usually significantly less expensive–the earlier in the process you agree, the less you’ll spend on gathering evidence and preparing your case
- Where experts are required, for tasks like appraising property, you may be able to agree on an expert and share the cost
- An uncontested divorce is often less stressful for the parties and for any children
- An agreement regarding custody and visitation may make it easier for parents to trade off and co-parent once the divorce is final
As you can see, there are a lot of upsides to an uncontested divorce. So, why might you choose not to go that route? Some of the most common reasons for proceeding with a contested divorce include:
- You believe that your spouse is hiding assets or otherwise not playing fair
- Your spouse refuses to cooperate in negotiating an uncontested divorce, or is unreasonable in their demands
- You need to go through the formal discovery process to get a clear accounting of community assets and your spouse’s income
- You have genuine concerns about your children’s safety with your spouse and want to fight for supervised visitation or other limitations
In other words, an uncontested divorce is generally a good option if you are able to negotiate in good faith with your spouse and vice versa. While cutting costs and avoiding unnecessary conflict are generally beneficial, that doesn’t mean you should concede too much just to keep the peace and simplify the process.
Navigating an Uncontested Divorce
Even when you and your spouse have the best of intentions, it may not be easy to resolve all of the issues in your divorce case. You may not even be aware of everything that needs to be included in an agreement to fully resolve a divorce case. That’s where we come in.
The divorce attorneys at Lincoln & Wenk have extensive experience with uncontested divorce proceedings. We can ensure that all issues in the divorce case are fully addressed, advise you as to what is fair and reasonable in each area and how a court would likely rule if you went to a contested hearing, and provide the buffer to dial back tensions when necessary. Our goal in an uncontested divorce case is to make the process as painless as possible, while ensuring that your rights are fully protected and you are making informed decisions.
The Arizona Uncontested Divorce Process
There are two ways an uncontested divorce case may proceed. The first begins like any other divorce case, with the filing of a petition and service on the other spouse. This starts the 60-day waiting period to finalize a divorce case. While that clock is ticking away, the parties and their divorce lawyers negotiate the terms of the divorce. If they reach an agreement on all issues, one of the attorneys drafts a written agreement and both parties review it.
It’s important to note that the parties don’t have complete freedom to agree to any terms they want. The court must review the agreement to determine whether it is fair, and whether any terms relating to child support, custody, or visitation are in the best interests of the children.
The agreement is submitted to the court along with a proposed decree. If the court finds that the agreement is fair and reasonable, the decree will be entered based on the terms of the agreement.
For those who have few issues to resolve, have already reached an agreement, or can resolve any outstanding issues quickly, there is an even more streamlined way to approach an uncontested divorce. If the parties come to a complete agreement before filing, the terms of the agreement can be integrated into the filing. In that case, all the parties have to do is wait out the required 60 days and submit the decree.
With the latter approach, the entire process–from meeting with the attorney to receiving the divorce decree–may take less than 90 days.
Finding the Best Way Forward for You
At Lincoln & Wenk, we’ve seen uncontested divorce work well for many people. And, those who aren’t able to reach an agreement on their own can often reach an agreement through mediation. That’s a little more time-consuming than reaching an agreement on your own before the divorce case is even filed, but can still save a lot of time, money, and tension. We also know every divorce case is different.
We’re here to listen, learn about your goals and concerns, and move forward in the way that best suits your circumstances. To learn more about how we can help you navigate an uncontested divorce in Arizona, call 623-294-2464 or fill out our contact form right now.