Divorce can certainly be expensive in many ways. Aside from the financial cost, there are the mental and emotional costs.
Often times, people wrestle with the very idea of divorce for months or even years before doing anything about it or even mentioning the idea to their spouse. This also comes with its fair share of second-guessing and fear.
Once you get over the initial anxiety surrounding making the decision to end your marriage, then comes the matter of the nuts and bolts of the process itself: Who is moving out? Who gets what? What about the children? Child Support? Spousal Support?
For most people, these are uncharted waters, and the initial decision to divorce leads to a zillion questions that you can think of along with several questions that you don’t even know to ask. While most litigated divorces are resolved within six months to a year, they can linger longer when there are hotly contested issues like custody/timesharing or property issues.
During the pendency of a divorce, most people languish in abject uncertainty, unable to make any firm plans for anything in their future (like whether to go back to school or relocate), awaiting the outcome of their divorce.
And did I mention the financial cost of litigating divorce? Paying attorneys to litigate controversies can lead to high legal fees that most would rather not incur.
Many people decide that they can and should work to settle their disputes “amicably,” between themselves, rather than pay lawyers to get them through the process. This leads them to attempt an Uncontested Divorce to just “get it done!!”
This process is much less expensive than litigating; it is much more efficient, and it can be infinitely quicker to get through, so you can get on with the rest of your life. However, it does have its pitfalls as well.
Many parties have a mistaken notion that the term “uncontested” simply means that both agree that they should divorce, so that issue is not in dispute, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Uncontested Divorce means that you have agreed on everything, and you are prepared to submit to the Court a full and final settlement of all issues that by law need to be addressed in a divorce.
At Sandia Family Law, we do uncontested divorces for a flat fee, meaning that without representing or advocating for either, we meet with couples to establish what their agreement is. We then draft the agreements to the point of legal sufficiency and revise them as necessary as directed by the parties. Then we file and submit everything to the Court and to the judge for review and entry.
Using our services in this way, parties never have to go to court, never have to see their judge. They only need to review documents, eventually approve them, and ultimately sign them and get them to us, and we do all the rest.
I recently met with a couple wishing to do an uncontested divorce simply because they wanted to spend the least amount of money as possible. As we were going through the issues that the law requires, I asked what was to come of wife’s 401(k).
This asset was incurred during the marriage, so it was entirely community property. Based on the looks they exchanged with one another, it was clear that not only had they not discussed or reached an agreement regarding this asset, they didn’t even know it was in question.
As we continued with our meeting, they also had not discussed his Social Security Disability benefit or the equity in the marital residence. They really didn’t understand what a full agreement under the law means, and the more we talked, the clearer it became that they had a long way to go before they actually had a full agreement. Again, not knowing the law, and being new to divorce, they didn’t know all the questions to ask. Another pitfall to Uncontested Divorce can be power imbalances.
Often times when one party handles all of the marital finances to the exclusion of the other, then the other doesn’t have a clear picture of the marital estate and therefore cannot meaningfully negotiate its settlement. Sometimes one spouse is simply pushier than the other (which may be central to the divorce itself), then the other may have grown accustomed to simply giving in in order to keep the peace. This puts them at a distinct disadvantage in negotiating, and this is a great reason to hire a lawyer to advocate for them.
Uncontested divorces are a fine option for some, but they are definitely not for everyone. You didn’t get to the point of divorcing because you work so well together, and the investment you have already made in the marriage is significant.
So, it is worth fully educating yourself in the process before you begin, or seeking the information and advice necessary to make informed decisions. The last thing you want to do is accept a crap deal just to get it over with and then spend the next several years coming to a full understanding of what you gave away.
You can rely on Sandia Family Law’s knowledge and experience in all matters of Family Law to provide you with information, advice, and counsel that will empower you to make informed decisions. We are happy to meet with you to help you decide if an Uncontested Divorce is right for you. So please give us a call to see how we may be of assistance to you.
For more information about uncontested divorce in Albuquerque, contact us at (505) 544-5126 to discuss your situation today.