Our law firm handles many uncontested divorce cases in the Kansas City, Missouri area. An uncontested divorce is a divorce where the husband and wife can keep their case “out of court” by agreeing to a complete resolution of all of the issues, without trial, through written settlement agreements. Sometimes the parties are able to reach agreements from the outset, and sometimes negotiation between the parties or their attorneys is required.
An uncontested divorce is still a legal proceeding and must be approved by the court. Some courts require a short uncontested hearing to be held, where the court will review and approve the agreements on the record after brief testimony of one or both parties. Other courts will dissolve the marriage by affidavit without a hearing.
Even in uncontested cases, the selection of a divorce attorney is a critical one. Contact Kansas City divorce attorney Mark A. Wortman today to discuss your case.
For the majority of cases, uncontested divorces are advantageous to all parties involved in almost every way. First of all, an uncontested divorce is substantially less expensive than a contested divorce. The parties are able to save money not only on attorney’s fees, but also on case related costs, such as service fees, deposition costs, witness costs, the costs of discovery, trial expenses, and the like.
Second, an uncontested divorce is almost always much faster than a contested divorce. If the parties are able to reach agreements early on, then the entire divorce can be done within a matter of a few months, with most of that time just waiting for the court date or for the 30 day waiting period to pass. Contested cases can take anywhere from several months to a year or more to complete.
Third, contested divorces not only require a large investment of time and money, but they also can carry an enormous emotional and physical toll. Contested divorce litigation, by its very nature, pits the husband and wife, mother and father, directly against each other in court. Bringing all of the facts and “dirty laundry” that have caused the parties to get divorced to a head in a courtroom can create a very hostile, stressful, and often times unproductive situation, which can affect the parties and their children for many years.
Fourth, when it comes to children, the parents usually are in a much better position than the court to determine what is best for their family. Parties can take control of their own future by negotiating their settlement and parenting arrangement. Courts will generally approve settlements as long as they are fair, conscionable, and in the best interests of the children. Often times in court tried cases, neither party is happy with the results, and both parties are out a substantial amount of time and money.
Not all cases start off as uncontested divorces, but most of them end up being uncontested (or settled) in the end. The most efficient and cost effective uncontested divorces are those that can be fully negotiated by the parties on their own, or with the limited use of their attorney(s). However, this requires that both parties can consciously understand and agree that the divorce is going to happen, and that one way or another, there is going to be a division of property, a parenting plan for children, child support paid in some way, and a final decree of dissolution. This is the essential key to uncontested divorce. The parties must be able to resolve, at a minimum, the following:
In Missouri uncontested divorces, it is not uncommon for both parties to have attorneys. In this scenario, each party would be represented by their own counsel, each party would be advised of their legal rights, and each party would have someone to negotiate on their behalf. Agreements would be drafted and approved by each attorney before being signed by the clients.
It is also possible to complete an uncontested divorce through the use of one divorce attorney. However, it is important to understand that an attorney can only represent one party, not both. An attorney in an uncontested divorce is not a mediator or arbitrator, and must look out only for the interests of their client. Although the attorney cannot advise the non-represented party of their legal rights, the attorney can be very helpful in assisting with negotiation, providing creative ideas and suggestions to help the represented client come to an agreement, properly preparing settlement agreements and other required court documents, and conducting the uncontested hearing if required.
For more information about uncontested divorce in Missouri, contact experienced Kansas City divorce attorney Mark A. Wortman.