When most of us think about divorce, we envision a long, drawn-out process that takes months or even years. However, when a couple no longer wants to be together but can still agree on how to divide everything, they can usually get a quick divorce. During a quick divorce, you will do most of your work own paperwork, rather than doing it in a courthouse, which sets it apart from traditional divorces.
This divorce method is also inexpensive, and a great solution for people who do not want to continue a marriage, but can agree on key issues present in divorce, such as custody, child visitation, and division of property. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of what you can expect from your quick divorce.
You will learn that different terms can be used for quick divorce. Here are the different names you might hear for this type of divorce:
Both spouses agree on all divorce-related issues. You can end your marriage without the need for court hearings, a great deal of legal help, and seemingly endless negotiations.
In this civil divorce, both spouses agree on terms and conditions of property division, visitation, child support, spousal support, and custody.
As you can see, the definitions are nearly the same, just worded differently. However, it is important to note that these divorces do NOT mean spouses are friends after the divorce is finalized.
Uncontested Divorces are Faster
Contested divorces happen when parties cannot agree on major issues often discussed in divorce, such as asset division, property division, visitation, and custody. Either spouse could dispute certain aspects of the divorce, which means greater costs in legal fees, longer proceedings, and more steps you have to take before you reach the finish line. When you take this route, you will also be dealing with a greater amount of stress. You can expect to sift through a lot of red tape as you research your spouse’s finances as part of a contested divorce.
To give you an idea of what to expect during a contested divorce, you already have to deal with the complications arising from the conflicts you have with your spouse. You can also expect a large amount of legal fees and a greater amount of stress. Then you will have to file a petition (a document asking for divorce and stating why the marriage failed), and serve it. Next, your spouse will have to respond. Afterward, you will have to interview and hire an attorney.
“Divorce discovery” is the next part of your process. This term is used to describe all the information you have to gather from your spouse, as well as witnesses.
Once this phase is over, you will begin pre-trial hearings and legal motions, followed by settlement negotiations between counsels. If a settlement is not reached, you can expect to go to trial, which means more spending money and time. Finally, once the trial is finished, you or your spouse can appeal. And if this tactic does not work, divorce court will be your next stop.
On the other hand, an uncontested divorce means you agree with your spouse about the major issues that are usually discussed during a divorce, such as custody, visitation, property division, and spousal/child support. You also agree on the division of debt, educational and religious matters, and ways to handle life and health insurance.
You may think that because you have substantial assets or minor children, you may not be able to have an uncontested divorce. However, the truth is that as long as you both agree on how to handle these issues, you should still be able to reach an agreement. Even if you disagree on just one or two major issues, you can negotiate with one another, or even use mediation to help come to an agreement about an issue that plagues you.
You have the added benefit of a reduced amount of stress, too. Less money spent and less time in court means you finish faster. In addition, your children may feel less stressed out, and you will not have to explain as much to them about legal matters, which can already be painful.
While you will undoubtedly get through this process much faster than a contested divorce, you should know that you may have to be legally separated for a certain length of time before you can file. Therefore, be sure to check your state’s divorce law to find out what your requirements are.
What Happens During an Uncontested Divorce?
If you have an uncontested divorce, you may not have to go to court at all. You do not have to prove that your spouse was the reason for the divorce (such as committing adultery or cruel and inhuman treatment). Under oath, you can claim (either in a courthouse or on paper) that you and your spouse are no longer compatible or have irreconcilable differences. These claims are sometimes referred to as “papers-only” divorces.
Once you have reached an agreement with your spouse about how you will handle issues involved in your divorce, you will file court forms and a “divorce settlement agreement.” In short, this document lists any agreements reached by spouses about the major issues of their divorce. Experts recommend that you hire an attorney to prepare your divorce settlement agreement for you, as he or she can protect your rights by making sure all appropriate legal provisions are included for you.
After the divorce settlement agreement is filed, your settlement and final divorce will be approved by a judge. He or she will likely approve the settlement agreement—unless the terms are unfair to one spouse, or were composed while under duress. Once you have reached your state’s waiting period, the divorce will be final.
What Do I Need for an Uncontested Divorce?
There are a few items you will need to complete in order to get your quick divorce underway. They may seem like a lot of work, but doing this legwork now will make everything easier as the process continues.
You will need the following:
- Residency requirements
- An index number for your case
- A petition served to your spouse
- A response petition, which your spouse files
- Forms that put the case on the court calendar
- Affidavit of service for served papers
- Worksheets regarding income, spousal support, and child support
- Parenting plan (if your state requires it)
- Separation agreement
- Findings of fact and conclusions of law
- Judgment of divorce
- Any other divorce papers or state-required documents
Your state will tell you exactly what you need to have filed. You will also be informed about residency requirements you must meet in order to file.
Even if you agree to everything, it is important that you retain an attorney, so that the divorce is fair to all involved. Be sure that both spouses hire an attorney, and check to be sure that they will quickly review your documents. You certainly want the process to go as quickly as possible, so consider avoiding an attorney who is known to be slow about reviewing paperwork.
Why Choose Quick Divorce?
Money is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, and this process can save you a considerable amount of it. Your time is also valuable, and a quick divorce is just as the name implies: faster than a contested divorce. If you know you just do not want to be with your spouse any longer, this solution is easier.
As mentioned earlier, these divorces will bring you less stress, as you avoid lengthy legal proceedings, time spent negotiating with your spouse, and reduced legal fees. The stress factor is a big one. You may just want to get your divorce over with as quickly as you can, which is also a great way to cut out a lot of stress.
Your children are probably confused, sad, and worn out by the process already, so this method reduces these impacts, too. Some neighborhoods and communities are very tight-knit, and if a friend or neighbor sees you at a divorce attorney’s office, uncomfortable rumors may start. This type of divorce also offers you and your spouse more privacy as you discuss arrangements, since you spend less time with legal counsel.
The cost can be as little as $500 before you incur attorney fees and any additional costs. (We will discuss other costs a bit more in a moment.) You can also avoid a trial, thanks to agreements about how your property, children, and money will be handled. Also, you can speed up the process by filing for your divorce in a state that has a short residency period. Some people go to other states to establish residency, then file for divorce. Some states have longer waiting periods (as long as two years), but others have none at all.
Specifics About Costs
Each and every situation will be different, and there is no way to tell how much your divorce will cost. This amount will be determined by a number of different factors, such as the amount of legal help you opt for and state-specific fees. Each attorney prices their services differently, so you will need to consult with him or her about specific costs.
You can start the process by purchasing a divorce kit online, usually for less than $100. These kits will have all the paperwork that your state requires. If you are willing to do some work, you can usually get these forms for free. Start by checking your local courthouse or public law library. Paralegals or legal document preparers can help you fill these forms out, although they cannot offer legal advice.
Some attorneys may charge a flat fee for your uncontested divorce. These terms are dependent on where you live, the attorney you hire, and your fee arrangement. Some attorneys charge retainer fees; others do not. Your assets and your children will also play a role in your pricing.
Aside from legal help, you will likely incur additional costs, such as a filing fee for divorce petition (about $200) and a sheriff or private server delivering the petition to your spouse (roughly $35 to $100).
You also might consider hiring legal help online to review your paperwork for you. You won’t have to pay a fee to retain the attorney, but you will pay him or her by the hour for his or her services. On average, this work will cost about $300.
The decision to have a quick divorce is very dependent upon your personal situation. This type of divorce is best-suited for people who can agree that they no longer want to be together and can amicably divide up the major parts of their marriage. These divorces cost a lot less to pursue than contested divorces, and you can even do them yourself, if you are willing to work at it; this fact alone is a relief, as you can reduce the stress of having to go to several legal proceedings and meetings with your attorneys.
Your children can also have their stress levels reduced if you can work through things in a civil manner, and you can avoid friends and neighbors asking painful questions. Best of all, you can put this time in your life behind you more quickly.
Bear in mind that quick divorce is a good method for people who know exactly what they want. However, you will need to have all your information organized and ready, and make sure all of your requirements are met.
Check with your state to review residency requirements, and make sure that both spouses have an attorney to make sure they are being treated fairly as the process moves forward. Divorce is certainly not easy, but this path will speed up the process and get you on the road to your new life faster.