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Uncontested Divorce Basics: 5 Things to Consider

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

Thinking about getting an uncontested divorce? You'll want to know some basics first.

Many couples who are ready to end their marriage will pursue an uncontested divorce, thinking it's a shortcut to living happily apart for ever after. But it may not be quite as simple as you think to get a "quickie" divorce.

Before you and your soon-to-be ex start down this path, here are five things you'll want to consider about an uncontested divorce:

  1. You and your spouse will need to agree on everything. Uncontested divorces are meant for couples who are on the same page regarding all crucial divorce issues, including child custody, spousal support, and property division. You can come to your own agreement or use state-provided forms, but read those forms carefully -- for example, some states' uncontested divorce forms say that both parties agree to give up their rights to alimony.
  2. You still need to fulfill eligibility requirements. Just because you've both agreed to divorce doesn't mean you can skip over the basic eligibility requirements for any divorce. This includes meeting residency requirements and paying court filing fees, among others.
  3. You may still need to wait a while for the divorce to be finalized. While an uncontested divorce may entail a more streamlined process, you still can't avoid the mandatory waiting period. Most states have a specific waiting period (some more brutal than others) before you can finalize a divorce.
  4. You may be giving up more than you realize. When it comes to property division in an uncontested divorce, many couples will simply agree to walk away with the assets that they brought into the marriage. But if you're in a community property state, know that by default, you are generally entitled to 50 percent of all community assets -- including real estate and your spouse's job earnings -- acquired between your date of marriage and your date of separation.
  5. You may want to consult a lawyer. Property division is just one of the reasons why consulting an experienced divorce lawyer is still advisable for each spouse, even in an uncontested divorce. A local attorney will be familiar with your state's laws, and will be able to make sure you're looking out for your own best interests.

To learn more about the divorce process in general, check out FindLaw's comprehensive section on Divorce and download our free Guide to Getting a Divorce.

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