Ending a marriage is never easy. Two people who were once committed to one another decide, for whatever reason, to no longer remain married. But making the decision to divorce is just the beginning. Many more decisions await the couple. Those decisions are made easier when a divorce is uncontested.
Many states allow uncontested divorces when both parties are amicable about their split and have no desire to litigate things like child custody and separation of assets. Uncontested divorces are usually faster and less expensive. They certainly come with fewer headaches.
You should know that divorce laws vary from one state to the next. For the purposes of explaining the basics of uncontested divorce, Utah will be used as an example. Salt Lake City defense attorney and uncontested divorce specialist Anita Dickinson recommends retaining the services of an attorney to ensure that an uncontested divorce goes off without a hitch.
Grounds for Divorce
Each state establishes its own grounds for divorce. Title 30, Chapter 3 of the Utah Code recognizes 10 things that constitute suitable grounds for divorce. Among them are:
- impotency at the time of marriage
- adultery committed subsequent to marriage
- willful desertion (for at least one year) or neglect
- habitual drunkenness by one party
- a felony conviction of one party
- cruel treatment resulting in bodily injury or mental distress
- incurable insanity
- irreconcilable differences.
The first step in getting a divorce in Utah is to file a divorce petition. However, you must be a resident of a single Utah County for at least three months prior to filing the petition. When child custody is involved, the affected children must be living with the parents in the Utah county for at least six months.
Filing the Petition
One of the two parties must file a petition to get the process started. This is true even in an uncontested divorce. Immediately upon filing, the court will automatically issue what is known as a Domestic Relations Injunction. This is an official order that essentially tells both parties to behave themselves while the case is pending.
A divorce petition is normally filed with the District Court in the petitioner’s county of residence. It can be filed in the other party’s county of residence if the couple lives separately. Next, the other party must be served with the divorce documents. In an uncontested situation, this is usually not an issue. The couple’s attorney keeps both parties up to speed.
Getting the Divorce Finalized
In a contested divorce, serving the other party would require waiting for that party to respond through his or her attorney. Then formal litigation ensues. The couple files additional documents, goes before the court, and tries to work out a variety of settlements covering everything from visitation to who gets what.
In uncontested divorce, all of that is eliminated. Upon filing the petition and any additional documents required by the court, there is little left for the couple to do other than wait on the court’s decision. Assuming the court has no valid reason to deny the petition, the presiding judge will sign a divorce decree.
An uncontested divorce is as legal and legitimate as a contested one. Yet it is a lot easier to accomplish because you are avoiding endless meetings with attorneys, countless court hearings, and the bitter competition that normally occurs between couples in a contested divorce.
At the end of the day, divorce is never a pleasant thing. But if couples can find a way to amicably split, an uncontested divorce is the better way to go.