An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which the parties are in agreement on all issues. This means that they file all the proper signed and notarized paperwork, wait 31 days, and schedule a final hearing on the uncontested calendar. Only the plaintiff need appear and the hearing is very brief if all the paperwork is in order.
It seems simple enough, yet there are recurring questions I will address in this and future blogs. To begin with, what are the issues? The issues are all “contestable” issues, meaning all issues on which there is or could be a dispute, such as division of property, custody and child support. In practice, it’s obvious that if one party will not sign and notarize the paperwork there is an unresolved dispute and the divorce is not uncontested. What if one party lives in another state? No problem. That party can sign and notarize it there. What if one party lives abroad? Again, no problem. They can have it signed and notarized at the nearest U.S. Consulate (notarizing is a consular service). Call in advance to find out when the Consulate does notarials and what they charge.
In this blog I will address cases in which there are no minor children. Minor children are children up to the age of 18 or over 18 and still in high school up to the age of 20, after which they are not considered minors.
The simplest case is where the parties do not have children or marital property, and both want a divorce. What is marital property? Marital property is any property (or debt) acquired during the marriage. Therefore if the parties do not have marital property or debt and want a divorce, it should be a straightforward matter, inexpensive and fast (about 2 months counting the 31-day waiting period after filing).
The next level of complexity is where parties with no minor children but with marital property want a divorce. Marital property consisting of joint accounts, household goods, personal effects, businesses, etc. should be relatively easy to resolve in typical cases. Bank accounts can be divided, debts can be allocated, interests in businesses can be divided. All that is required is that the parties address these issues and come to a fair agreement. Note that the court will not examine your settlement agreement for fairness or anything other than form – it must be signed and notarized by both parties.
In the next blog I will address the issue of property in the form of real estate.