What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce in South Carolina means that you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all of the issues in your divorce case. A South Carolina divorce case consists of several broad issues: divorce grounds, division of marital property and debts, custody of minor children, visitation with children, child support, and alimony or spousal support. An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse have reached an agreement about how to resolve all of those issues and the sub-issues involved in each. This can be done in several ways. Either, you and your spouse do not have any children or property to divide and neither want any alimony or support from the other or, you both work together to reach an agreement about how to settle each of the issues. At that point, it becomes an uncontested.
Should We Try an Uncontested Divorce?
This depends on the specific facts of your case and the personalities of you and your spouse. It also depends on the level of trust you share with your spouse and the level of conflict you are currently experiencing. In general, you know more about your case than a judge can learn in several hours during a contested hearing so you should be able to reach a better agreement about how your case should be settled. However, some times you just can’t trust your spouse or you are just arguing too much or experiencing too much anger to be able to negotiate with one another appropriately.
What is the first step?
Generally, an uncontested divorce is filed on the uncontested divorce grounds of more than one year separation. That means that you and your spouse have not lived together in over one year. We like to set up consultation to discuss your case to see what would be the best course of action to take in your case.
What information will you need?
In analyzing your case, I will need you to provide me general information about your marriage, the reason for your separation and desire for divorce, as much specific information as possible about you and your spouse’s assets and debts, and any other relevant information about your case. If you and your spouse have been negotiating already, I would suggest that you bring a list of the things you have agreed to and any unresolved issues to guide our discussion some. I do not necessarily need to review financial documents or deeds at this point. If you have already been served paperwork, you should bring that with you as well.
Do we have to agree on everything before the meeting with you?
No. You most likely will have questions and not reached an agreement on everything. However, sometimes I see things that you and your spouse have not recognized which may lead to additional items to discuss or a change in the agreement. Some things may lead to difficult circumstances or unnecessary risk that could be avoided by some forethought and planning.
Can both spouses participate?
Sure. Both parties should be a part of the negotiation of the agreement because eventually both will have to sign the agreement. However, South Carolina Bar Ethics rules prohibit me from representing both parties. That means I can only represent and provide legal advice to one of you. However, that does not necessarily mean the other party must retain the services of an attorney. This goes back to what we discussed earlier about the level of trust and anger between the spouses.
I charge flat fees for uncontested divorce matters. This is done for several reasons. First, it lets you know up-front what your divorce is going to cost. That way you do not have to wonder how many hours I’m going to bill you for at then end of your case. It helps me save time because I do not have to keep up with the time spent on your case and it frees me up to make sure I can provide you with a high level of service without spending an extraordinary amount of time on administrative matters. The cost is determined by the complexity of your case and how it can be resolved.