While divorce is often emotionally devastating to the people involved due to a marriage’s breakup, it is not always the contentious and angry experience that many expect. Many couples work together to ensure that both parties get a fair break and that decisions (such as where the children will live or what to do with the marital home) are made through compromise. When the couple themselves manages most aspects of a divorce, this is called an uncontested divorce without the court’s involvement.
Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
There are, of course, many benefits to going through an uncontested divorce. The first is financial: When you can make your own decisions, and you do not have to appear in front of a judge represented by attorneys, you could save thousands of dollars. In addition to not paying legal fees, you will likely miss less work than you would otherwise need to leave on court days.
You also will not need to purchase any special attire, pay court parking fees, and cover other incidentals that go along with a court case. If you are looking to get a divorce as inexpensively as possible, it would be wise to try to work with your spouse and compromise on decisions. Besides the financial benefits, however, you will find that the emotional and familial benefits are great.
An uncontested divorce can give you the closure that you need. You and your spouse worked together as a team for at least part of your marriage, and by teaming up for your divorce and trying to see things from each other’s point of view, you are putting in the teamwork one last time to do what is best for your family. Going through an ugly, drawn-out divorce can make it difficult for the two of you to remain friends (or at least friendly acquaintances).
When you work together through an uncontested divorce, there’s a better chance of getting past your negative feelings and arriving at a place where the two of you are civil and cordial, if not friendly. If you have them, your children will see the two of you working together and will understand that both of you are fully invested in them and their futures. No child wants to see their parents fighting.
If your child can see that the two of you are compromising despite hurt feelings and disagreements, he or she will learn suitable lessons about how to work together with others. Finally, you are more likely to get at least some of what you want when your divorce is a matter of giving and taking. A judge might make decisions that neither of you particularly like but coming up with your solutions can help you feel like you have “won” certain aspects. You are free to come up with creative solutions.
Potential Drawbacks of an Uncontested Divorce
No divorce is all roses and sunshine, of course. Going through an uncontested divorce is still likely to hurt. You will always have to go through the stages of grief that are common to most losses. For example, you will still feel anger, sadness, and other negative emotions. Your spouse will be there to work with you through things like child custody, who gets various household items, and even who gets the pets, but they won’t be your emotional support during this difficult time. This can feel not very clear, and you will need to work through that with someone else.
There is also the potential for one spouse to agree to too much compromise. They might be under the impression that they owe something to the other spouse or that the other spouse has more of a right to ask for more time with the children or to have the house. You might be tempted to give up too much to get through the divorce quickly, but you might regret that in years to come. In this case, speaking to a third party might help you more clearly state your wants and needs to avoid getting into this situation.
Tips for Your Uncontested Divorce
If you are determined to part with a minimum of negativity and without having a judge making decisions for your family, there are some ways you can boost the odds in your favor. The first is to talk to your spouse about your goals. He or she might also be dreading any courtroom drama and might want to have the divorce over with as quickly and painlessly as possible. Start with things that the two of you are less likely to argue over.
If you received an heirloom bedroom set passed down from your grandparents, then your spouse will probably agree that it belongs to you. At the same time, your spouse’s collections belong to him or her. Getting in a few “wins” for each of you can help reassure both of you that neither of you will try to be unfair. Write down what you would like in terms of more emotional issues, such as child custody. You might be surprised to find that you are primarily on the same page.
If you are not, all hope is not lost, however. You can use a mediator or a legal advocacy group like National Family Solutions to work through these disagreements to come to a compromise. If you cannot, work out what you can and go to family court only for the things you absolutely cannot agree on. Finally, do not expect it all to go smoothly. In some cases, it will, but there will still be some arguments and negativity for the majority. This is okay!
Remember that it is a learning curve for each of you; the chances are good that neither of you has been through one or two divorces before if that. Every divorce is different, so if you have had a previous divorce, do not assume that this one will go the same way. Work with your spouse to come to the best possible ending for your marriage, and be sure to get the emotional support you need from your friends and relatives.