Domestic relations attorneys usually define an uncontested divorce as one where the spouses agree on all major issues prior to hiring the lawyer, including the following:
- How the property will be divided
- How the debts will be divided
- Where the children will live
- The amount of parenting time each parent will have
- Who will make major decisions regarding the children
- How to divide child-related expenses, like uncovered medical bills, extracurricular expenses, school expenses, etc.
- Who will maintain health insurance for the children;
- How much child support will be paid;
- Whether maintenance (aka alimony) will be paid, and if so, how much and for how long.
If the parties have agreed on these and all other major issues, then in an uncontested divorce, the attorneys draft formal settlement agreements that will be signed by the parties and submitted to the court without having to litigate the case. This usually results in the dissolution of marriage case being resolved more quickly and with fewer attorney’s fees and litigation expenses incurred.
Keep in mind, however, that these formal settlement agreements (a Marital Settlement Agreement for financial issues, and an Allocation Judgment, formerly known as a Custody Judgment, for parenting issues) are important documents with long-lasting ramifications for you and your children. Therefore, it is important that these documents are drafted and/or reviewed by an attorney with solid family law experience. It is never a good idea to sign such documents without first consulting with an attorney.