Uncontested divorce is a good option for people who have either 1) reached a basic divorce agreement with their spouse and need assistance drafting the paperwork, or 2) do not think their spouse will participate in the divorce case. The role of the attorney in an uncontested divorce is to provide legal advice to the client and to draft the divorce paperwork. Perhaps the most important part of using a divorce attorney for an uncontested divorce is that he or she can provide information about options you may not have considered. For example, you may not realize that it is possible to co-own the family home for a period of time and sell it at some date in the future. During that time you need to decide who will have “exclusive use” of the home, who will pay the mortgage and property taxes, who will claim the mortgage interest deduction, how minor repairs will be handled, how major repairs will be handled, how the sale proceeds will be divided, etc.
Uncontested divorce probably sounds similar to Kitchen Table Mediation. The main difference between an uncontested divorce and Kitchen Table Mediation is the role of the professional. In Kitchen Table Mediation both parties work with the divorce mediator, who is neutral and gives no legal advice. In an uncontested divorce only one person works with the divorce attorney. The attorney represents only that spouse and provides him or her with legal advice. The other spouse is allowed to have a different attorney review the documents if he or she chooses to. In an uncontested divorce (or any divorce) an attorney can only represent one spouse. It is unethical for both parties to work with the same attorney (unless that attorney is acting as a mediator and not providing legal advice).
An uncontested divorce begins with the client coming in for an initial two hour meeting with the divorce attorney. At this meeting you will discuss all of the major topics in a divorce: decision-making (custody), the parenting plan, child support, spousal support, and asset and debt division. There are dozens of subtopics that fall within these major topics that will be discussed as well. After this meeting there may be additional information the client needs to obtain or additional provisions the client needs to consider. The client will contact the attorney sometime in the next few days (either by phone or email) to discuss these additional provisions or provide the additional information.
After all information is gathered, the attorney will draft all divorce paperwork and email it to the client for review. Typically the first draft of all divorce paperwork can be provided within one week of the first meeting. The client will review the divorce documents and then email any required changes to the divorce attorney, who will make the changes and email the documents back. Once the divorce documents are complete, you will discuss the best way to deliver the documents to your spouse. Your spouse may either sign the documents or may request some changes. If changes are requested then you and the attorney will spend time discussing whether to agree to the changes.
The documents will be submitted to the court once both parties have signed off on them. It typically takes 2-3 weeks for the court to review and sign the divorce judgment. You are divorced the day the judge signs the judgment. In the best case scenario an uncontested divorce can be totally complete within a month. Usually an uncontested divorce will take more like one-and-a-half to three months to complete.