Getting divorced can be a difficult decision to make for any couple. There are personal, emotional and financial factors at play that can make splitting up complicated to say the least. Chief among these concerns could be the potential cost of the divorce, or even not know how to file for divorce. Everyone has heard the horror stories about couples throwing away thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs just to end up with a divorce settlement that they resent anyway. While divorce is never a “cheap” process, there is a path to a simple, inexpensive, no-conflict divorce. However, this path requires two things that are often in short supply at this stage in a marriage: agreement and cooperation.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
Contrary to popular belief, an uncontested divorce does not mean that both parties agree to get divorced. While that is always helpful in moving the process along, it doesn’t necessarily remove any of the potential obstacles in the divorce process. A Divorce is considered uncontested when both parties agree to the resolution of all issues related to the divorce, including, but not limited to: identifying and dividing community property and community debt (including retirement accounts and retirement benefits), disposition of the marital residence, spousal support/alimony, custody/timesharing of minor children, relocation, child support and any other particular issues unique to your family and circumstances. While this is a great option for couples who want to part ways amicably, you don’t have to get along to get an uncontested divorce. You just have to be able to cooperate and come to agreements about how to split things. While tensions may be high and emotions strained, sitting down and rationally discuss the logistics of your divorce (without rehashing the reasons for the divorce) can drastically lower your costs.
First of all, an uncontested divorce is far less expensive than a traditional divorce. This is because there's no time wasted in the courtroom, and there are far fewer legal documents that need to be drafted and filed. Additionally, many law firms, including Genus Law, offer flat rates for uncontested divorces. Secondly, there is usually only one attorney involved in an uncontested divorce as opposed to each party retaining their own in a contested divorce. This is further reduced by the fact that you and your spouse can split the cost of the attorney handling your uncontested divorce. This all adds up to a divorce that can be a fraction of what a "normal" divorce would cost.
How Does Uncontested Divorce Work?
In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree to the divorce and its terms. One party will file a petition for divorce with the court, and the other agrees to the terms as laid out in the petition. Generally, this will occur after an informal discussion on behalf of the divorcing spouses. For example, the couple may decide ahead of time how property will be divided and detail this in the petition.
Many uncontested divorces involve parties who are “pro se,” or without an attorney. However, an attorney can be a valuable asset in even the most amicable of separations, even if both parties split the cost and use the same lawyer.
Why Uncontested Divorces are Rare
A quick and inexpensive divorce is every divorcing couple’s goal, but the reality is it is very rarely achieved. Even if you both are in agreement about ending the marriage, chances are you aren’t in agreement on EVERYTHING that goes into ending said marriage. Remember, all property acquired during the marriage is known as Community Property in New Mexico. This means that anything you purchased or any debt you incurred while married will need to be divided equally. Dividing property gets more complicated when mortgages or separate property are factored in.
As a rule of thumb, the longer you have been married the more stuff (assets and debts) you acquire during the marriage. That means more things you need to agree on when it comes to dividing those assets and debts. While this may sound straightforward, once you get into the nitty-gritty and you realize what you are actually giving up or getting, it becomes much more complicated.
The other factor that often turns an uncontested divorce into a contested one is children. Custody and Child Support need to be addressed in the MSA (Marital Settlement Agreement) and in the Parenting Plan of the divorce. As you might expect, custody and child support are often some of the most contentious topics in any divorce proceeding. Even if you agree on a 50-50 timesharing schedule, the details of the trade-offs and the amount of child support is still often contentious. Unless you are both in full agreement about dividing your assets and debts, and every detail regarding custody or timesharing, your divorce will likely be contested.
When an Uncontested Divorce is an Option for You
If you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce and are in overall agreement in how to divide your property and debts, an uncontested divorce may be an excellent way for you to see an efficient conclusion to your case. These types of divorce are generally best suited to those with limited assets and minimal to no custody and visitation conflicts. These conditions are usually easier to meet if you don’t have children and you haven’t been married for a very long time. However, even if you do have kids, if you and your spouse can still communicate and are able to come to agreements, an uncontested divorce is still an option for you.
What to do if an Uncontested Divorce isn't an option
Don't worry! If you and your soon-to-be-ex do not agree on every aspect of the divorce, you're not alone. Most divorces in New Mexico are traditional contested divorces. Just because your divorce is “contested”, doesn't mean it has to be a knockout brawl. It just means that there are issues that need to be resolved. You can still have a civil and relatively uncomplicated contested divorce. To find out more about how the divorce process works in New Mexico, click here.
How You Can Get An Uncontested Divorce in New Mexico
It is important to remember that even if you and your soon-to-be-ex agree on every aspect of the settlement, having an attorney to help you navigate the paperwork and help handle outstanding issues can be hugely helpful. The online resources available simply do not have the means to provide you with the tailored legal advice that your unique case may require. Remember, uncontested divorce implies total agreement on a wide range of issues that may not be obvious at the outset. There are several issues concerning property division, child support, child custody, tax, and debt that couples may overlook when agreeing to an uncontested divorce. In trying to obtain a fast resolution, many couples often avoid important conversations and decisions, only to be forced to revisit these sometimes difficult and then more pressing issues in the future, resulting in far greater cost and inconvenience. Our experienced Albuquerque Divorce attorneys can help you to ensure that your settlement addresses all pertinent issues, help you understand the long-term implications of the settlement, and draft and file all necessary paperwork. Discuss your desire for a low-cost, low-conflict divorce with your spouse, decide who gets what, and contact and Genus Law. You can sit down with one of our local attorneys, discuss your desires and concerns, and leave the rest with us. Genus Law generally completes uncontested divorces in a matter of weeks.
To learn more about Divorce, or to get started on your case, call us at (505) 317-4455, contact us, chat with us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GenusLawGroup/ or chat with someone online now through our website chat function.