Is An Uncontested Divorce An Option For You?

May 20, 2014

If divorce from your spouse is something you are considering, you should look into the concept of an uncontested divorce.  Unlike an adversarial divorce, an uncontested divorce is one where the spouses agree on all the issues arising from the marriage and separation.

In the District of Columbia

First, to obtain a divorce in D.C., either you or your spouse will have to have been a resident for at least six months. D.C. allows for uncontested divorce if you and your spouse agree on how the court should divide property, debt, custody of children, visitation schedule for children, child support, alimony, and any other assets.  You and your spouse should typically enter into a written agreement for all of these issues.

In order to file for divorce, you need to file a Complaint for Divorce, listing your date of marriage, your date of separation, and the assertion that you have a written settlement agreement.  Your spouse should file a Consent Answer, which essentially says he or she agrees with everything you stated in your Complaint for Divorce.  Additionally, both you and your spouse need to fill out the Uncontested Praecipe, which tells the Court you want an uncontested divorce and a hearing date.  If you file all of these documents together, you will be put on the uncontested divorce calendar.

The hearing should be brief, with the Judge asking questions to confirm your identity,  your marriage date, and that you are eligible for an uncontested divorce. The Judge will review your settlement agreement to ensure that it is valid, and then sign an order finalizing your divorce.

In Virginia

First, to obtain a divorce in Virginia, either you or your spouse will have to have been a resident of Virginia for at least six months.  Virginia allows for an uncontested divorce only if neither party asserts cause for divorce (i.e. it has to be a no-fault divorce).  You and your spouse must have a separation or settlement agreement, where you have agreed on all of the issues, including spousal support, custody of children, child support, and division of property.

To start the process for divorce in Virginia, you have to file a Complaint for Divorce.  Then draft a waiver for your spouse to sign, indicating that he or she is not opposing the divorce, and that he or she waives service of the paperwork.  Once your spouse signs the waiver, file it with the Court.  Then you and your spouse need to sign a property settlement agreement, which resolve all of the issues.  Draft a divorce decree and attach your settlement agreement to it.

The court will schedule a “ore tenus” hearing, where you will verbally make your request for a divorce.  You and a witness need to appear to testify about the facts necessary for the Court to grant you a divorce.  If all the requirements for divorce have been met, the Judge will sign the final divorce decree.

Clearly, the process of an uncontested divorce is much quicker than a contested one.  Due to the streamlined process, the parties save time and money.  So if you can work out all of the issues that arose in your marriage, an uncontested divorce is a great option.

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