Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested Divorce

The difficult decision to divorce has been made. And now you’re faced with another difficult prospect – how to obtain a divorce without losing your dignity. At Christine M. Howard, “divorce with dignity” is one of our core values. Still, we understand that divorce can bring out the worst in people, especially if it ends up with the couple going to court. One way to avoid the drama and keep your dignity intact is by choosing an uncontested divorce.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce, or “simple” divorce as it is also known, is one in which both spouses are able to come to a mutually acceptable agreement about their final divorce settlement and terminate their marriage without going to court. In an uncontested divorce, the judge does not decide the terms of the divorce – you and your spouse do.

What are the grounds for an uncontested divorce?

The State of South Carolina recognizes five grounds for divorce. Four of these – adultery, desertion, habitual drunkenness or narcotics abuse, and physical cruelty – require proof of fault. The fifth ground one year’s separation – is the no-fault ground.

In order to file for an uncontested divorce, you must have lived separate from your spouse for at least one continuous year and must file for divorce under “no-fault” grounds.

What are the advantages of an uncontested divorce?

There are many advantages to an uncontested divorce, perhaps the most obvious being cost. At its simplest, an uncontested divorce can be completed by paying only the court filing fees. But even when attorneys are involved, the cost to you and your spouse can be greatly reduced if you are able to reach agreement without resorting to litigation.

Another major advantage of an uncontested divorce is reduced stress. When a divorce is contested, you are asking a court to help decide its outcome. A contested divorce can take the frustration, anger and resentment either your or your spouse feels to a whole new level. It can also take many months or years to resolve the contested issues in court. Staying out of the court reduces conflict, paves the way for a better post-divorce relationship, and allows for better co-parenting if children are involved.

Finally, an uncontested divorce is more dignified and more private than a contested one. Even though the agreements that you and your spouse come to are filed with the court and become public record, the disclosures you’ve made to one another do not need to be public.

Contact Christine M. Howard to find out if an uncontested divorce is the right option for you.

Co-parenting 101

Co-parenting 101

Co-parenting after a split is one of the most challenging aspects of divorce. Getting past the anger, resentment, or painful history you may have with your ex and moving on with your life may already feel like a monumental task. But putting aside personal issues is crucial to being able to co-parent your children.

What is co-parenting?

Put simply, co-parenting, also called joint parenting or shared parenting, is cooperatively raising your children with the other parent after separation or divorce has occurred. Even while separation inevitably changes the way families work, parents who are committed to co-parenting with empathy and positivity can still be a source of stability and comfort for their children.

Will it be easy? Perhaps not. It will require cooperation, flexibility, and patience from both parents. But it is possible when both parents make the needs and the wellbeing of their children – not their personal differences – their focus.

How do we make co-parenting work?

Aside from the obvious requirements like commitment and determination, there are many things to consider to make co-parenting a success.

Start with a plan

Your co-parenting experience and outcome will be more positive if you being with a co-parenting plan. The co-parenting plan – also known as a parenting agreement – is a written document that spells out how you and the other parent will raise your children after separation or divorce.

The co-parenting plan should detail, among other things, how much time/when children will spend time with each parent, how decisions about the children will be made, how ongoing communication about the children will take place, and how parental disagreements will be
resolved.

Your co-parenting plan will likely be highly structured at the beginning. However, the plan will likely require reevaluation as your children’s needs or the parents’ circumstances change over the years. Your attorney can walk you through the drafting of – and future revisions to – this very important document.

Keep your feelings out of it

In her article “Five Tips for Successful Co-parenting,” Leah Klungness, PhD, says to “keep your feelings about the ‘other parent’ out of your kids’ heads and hearts. It’s expected that both of you will continue to grapple with feelings of betrayal, anger or abandonment. But behaving in ways that show your kids your ‘true’ feelings about the other parent will guarantee co-parenting failure.”

This doesn’t mean that your feelings aren’t important. If you need to vent, reach out to a friend, family member, or therapist. Venting to or in front of your kids will only add to their post-divorce stress.

Use the carrot, not the stick

Klungness goes on to say that maintaining respect for the other parent plays a big role in co-parenting. She says “the ability to praise, respect and express appreciation for the other parent characterizes all successful co-parenting relationships. Sometimes a bit of encouragement creates needed positive change. After all, the carrot always works better than the stick.”

Communicate like a co-worker

In all your communications with your co-parent, resolve to conduct yourself with dignity. Effective, conflict-free communication is the goal. So, if talking on the phone with your ex always ends in an argument, use emails or text messages for most conversations, and keep the focal point on the children.

Use a cordial, business-like tone in your messages that reflects neutrality and respect. Consider scheduling a weekly status meeting, or sending weekly status updates about your children’s activities or important events.

Keep “the main thing” the main thing

And the wellbeing of your children is the main thing.

In his article “What Makes for Successful Co-parenting After Divorce,” Edward Kruk, PhD, says,

“…The two most important factors in children’s successful adjustment to the consequences of divorce are the maintenance of a meaningful routine relationship with each of their parents, and to be shielded from ongoing parental conflict. The challenge for parents is to develop and maintain a co-parenting relationship that ensures that both of these essential needs are met.”

Co-parenting has its challenges. But when it’s done right, the result is happier, better adjusted children. Let the legal team at Christine M. Howard help you come up with a compassionate co-parenting plan that suits your unique family situation.