Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What does uncontested divorce mean?”
Many people view divorce as a one-size-fits-all process. They imagine filing papers and appearing in court and talking to lawyers and taking the stand, all the things that have been shown on television and in movies. The reality is that divorce is as varied as relationships and that each one happens somewhat differently. Though contentious litigation is certainly one approach, it isn’t the only one. To learn more about different ways of handling your divorce, keep reading.
The first approach to tackling a North Carolina divorce, and the one most people envision, involves litigation. This approach to divorce requires both sides hiring their own lawyers (or representing themselves, though that isn’t typically advisable). The two sides then fight the process out, first with the lawyers trying to hammer out a deal and, if that doesn’t work, turning to the courts. This approach can be contentious and, if agreement proves to be elusive, quite pricey. Litigation can be a good option for those with spouses who refuse to behave reasonably or where simple negotiation simply won’t work. The downside is that if you let your emotions get the best of you and use the process to punish your spouse rather than resolve disputes, litigation can end up wasting money, money that you might wish you had held onto down the road.
The next approach, an uncontested divorce, is essentially the opposite of litigation in that both parties are already in agreement. Uncontested divorce occurs when the two parties can reach agreement on their own (or with very little outside help) and then file for divorce to finalize and formalize the agreement they reached. An uncontested divorce can be a good idea in cases where there aren’t many assets to divide or there aren’t custody issues in dispute. Simple divorces can be easily handled on an uncontested basis. Those trickier cases may not be so easy to work out on your own and trying to do so can even create more problems than they solve.
A third option is to consider mediation. Mediation takes several forms, one requires hiring only one attorney to help hammer out a solution or instead hiring three attorneys (one for each of the parties and one mediator to remain neutral). Though this can get expensive, especially when you’re hiring three attorneys, the benefit is that things can also move pretty quickly given that you aren’t stuck waiting on a court’s busy schedule.
A final approach to resolving a North Carolina divorce is to consider collaboration. In a collaborative divorce, both parties work with a team of professionals, usually a financial expert, someone who can assist with custody/children issues and a lawyer to handle the particulars. The benefit of this approach is that you can play a direct role in the outcome and, by working together, hopefully reach a solution that is mutually agreeable. Something to keep in mind is that should the collaboration fall apart, due to an intransigent spouse or a particularly thorny issue, the lawyer will not be able to represent either party if the case goes to court. This is meant to help avoid partiality, but it can also require you to start all over again if the case moves forward as contested litigation.
If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, then you need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
About the Author
Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
A certified Family-Law Specialist, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state and administrative courts in North Carolina, before the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, and before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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