What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is one that typically does not involve a courtroom. The purpose of this type of divorce is to keep the process as civilized, quick, and cost-effective as possible. It also gives you both more control over the outcome. Other types of divorce will give a judge the power to make those decisions for you, in which case, neither of you gets a say in how the situation plays out.
The longest step in the process is creating your divorce settlement agreement since there will be certain issues that you and your spouse will not agree on. There is the option of settling the issues on your own, but if you and your spouse do not already understand divorce/family law, it can take some time to learn it and then use it in real life. For many, this can be too overwhelming and time-consuming, so they may resort to hiring lawyers to get involved instead. Additionally, if the two of you simply cannot settle certain issues alone, you may also want to hire lawyers to get involved.
How Does the Process Work?
The first step in getting an uncontested divorce is filing. Typically, you can find the paperwork needed to file in a county courthouse. The person filing the divorce action will be the person who fills out the forms, files with the county clerk, and pays the filing fee. From there, the forms will need to be served to the other party. Either the person who filed the paperwork or a sheriff’s office can serve the papers. You can also fill out an Affidavit of Mailing and serve the papers by mail. We recommend you check with the county clerk or with your lawyer to ensure that they are filled out, filed, and served correctly. If you do not do these things correctly, you may have to start the process completely over and pay another filing fee.
Once the papers have been served, the other party needs to file a response. This may simply mean signing the papers, but you will need to check with your county clerk or lawyer to make sure this is the case in your area so that the process runs smoothly. Once the response is received, there will be a mandatory waiting period. During this period, you will create your settlement agreement. This process can occur in one of three ways:
- You and your spouse discuss issues together and come to an agreement, in writing, without the involvement of a lawyer
- You, your spouse, and both of your lawyers discuss issues and resolve them together
- You and your spouse discuss issues separately with your lawyers, and the lawyers then speak to one another on your behalves and, eventually, come to a mutually acceptable agreement.
Another option you may want to consider is online divorce. You simply follow the instructions given and provide the information asked of you. Then, the forms will be sent to you to file. The process from there will continue as previously discussed, and you will start working on your settlement agreement.
After the settlement agreement is created, it will need to be signed and sent to a judge. The judge will then review the documents and decide whether to approve or deny the divorce based on the terms listed in the settlement agreement. If approved, the agreement will be set into place and your marriage will officially end. After this stage, it will be difficult to make any changes to your agreement, so you will want to make sure it lacks inconsistencies and that you fully agree to the terms to avoid complications in the future.
If the divorce is denied, however, you, your spouse, and both of your lawyers will likely need to make changes to your agreement. When both parties are satisfied and your lawyers have checked over the documents and given you the go-ahead, you will both sign the new agreement and send it to a judge. The process will then proceed as usual.
Some uncontested divorces will be granted in a matter of weeks to months while others may take longer. Worst case scenario, you may have to start over from the very beginning to refile for divorce, if there were any errors or inconsistencies in the original forms. This can be a hassle and major inconvenience, so it is imperative that you check with your lawyer at each step of the process to ensure it runs smoothly and that as few problems as possible occur.
What Should I Do Now?
If an uncontested divorce sounds like the right option for you or someone you know, and you would like to learn more, let us know, and we can help! Or, if you have questions about other types of divorce, we’d be happy to answer those for you. You can email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (864) 282-8575. We look forward to hearing from you!
DeLoe, Ronna L. “How to Get an Uncontested Divorce.” LegalZoom, Legalzoom.com, 1 Sept. 2021, https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/how-to-get-an-uncontested-divorce.
Taylor, Lauren. “Uncontested Divorce in South Carolina.” Lauren Taylor Law, Lauren Taylor Law Firm, 12 Feb. 2020, https://laurentaylorlaw.com/uncontested-divorce-south-carolina/.