Divorce papers, documents stating the desire for a divorce and outlining the reasons for filing, must be filed in every divorce case. We’ve all heard about one spouse receiving “divorce papers” from another and it usually carries a very ugly connotation. But this doesn’t have to be the case, particularly when the divorce is uncontested.
In most divorce cases, one spouse files for the divorce with the county clerk and then the legal documents are served to the other spouse, formally notifying them of their spouse’s intentions. At this point, the spouse who is served the papers may choose to argue the reasons for divorce that are outlined in them, necessitating further legal action. In uncontested divorce this step is not necessary as the spouse who is served agrees to the terms.
When a couple agrees to an uncontested divorce it may seem unnecessary to go through the formality of filing divorce papers, but this isn’t true. Even in cases where both spouses are agreeing, a divorce remains a legal proceeding and that means that both spouses must abide by all of the legal rules and regulations in order for the divorce to become finalized.
The difference in an uncontested divorce is that usually by the time papers are being served, the two sides have hashed out their differences and it is basically just putting the icing on top of the cake, so to speak. Sometimes, even in an amicable divorce, it can make things easier when you see it in print and realize that the worst is over.
Once divorce papers are served, that officially begins what most legal jurisdictions call the “waiting period”, a specific amount of time during which the spouse who was served has the opportunity to answer. Usually, a spouse has 30 days in which to file a response, which can either be an agreement to the terms of the divorce or an argument to them, asking for them to be contested.
If the responding spouse contests the divorce, then a court hearing will be necessary in order to get a legal ruling of divorce. This is where you can really see the advantage of an uncontested divorce, as it allows you to avoid what can be a long, drawn out process. In an uncontested divorce, the spouse who is served needs only to sign the papers and submit them within the 30-day waiting period.
Once the divorce papers are filed, both spouses will be required to disclose information such as income, assets and expenses so that a divorce settlement can be reached. If the divorce is uncontested, that will usually be the end of it. The last bits of paperwork can be filed and the divorce is finalized.
As you can see, those legal papers are a very important part of the divorce process. They are the black and white declaration of the end of a marriage and a necessity to make sure that everything is on the up and up and all parties are in agreement. This is true whether your divorce is contested or not, so don’t assume that filing for an uncontested divorce will mean that you can avoid the paperwork; it will just make the process of filing it quicker and easier on everyone involved.
The author of this blog is not an attorney and the information contained in these blogs should not be considered legal advice. The information provided here is based on the experience of the author and some of her clients whose actual names are not mentioned. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney if you have any legal questions.