Over the past 30 years, as divorces have become more and more common, the traditional, highly contested divorce proceeding has gone the way of the fedora and the spittoon. Only about 5% of divorces every year go through a lengthy court battle. About 95%, meanwhile, are what is called "uncontested;" that is, the spouses come to a drafted, legal agreement beforehand detailing the conditions of the marriage, from division of communal property to who gets custody of the children. The court will look over the document to make sure that it is fair, and will most likely pass it.
So why, you may ask yourself, has this form of divorce become so popular? For several reasons, actually. Apart from the various inherent advantages that it poses over more litigious advantages, there are some societal reasons as well. Most states no longer require fault to be established before a divorce is granted, which has removed many couples' need for a vitriolic court battle. Furthermore, as divorce has become more acceptable in our society, a speedier, less dramatic procedure has become more desirable.
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of advantages that go along with an uncontested divorce, namely:
- It's considerably less expensive. Because it doesn't last nearly as long as a contested divorce, and because it doesn't require two expensive divorce lawyers, uncontested divorces are just plain cheaper. While it can be very useful to hire a lawyer to act as a mediator and interpreter of the law, one lawyer can suffice for both parties. You also save a lot of money in service charges, expert witness costs, and deposition fees.
- It's a lot quicker. While a contested divorce can take months or years to finalize, an uncontested divorce typically only takes a few weeks to make legal, and most of that time is actually just waiting for a court date, meaning you can move on with your life so much quicker.
- It puts you in the driver's seat. An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse are able to come to terms yourselves, and while it can be uncomfortable to split up your life with the person you're leaving, it can be a lot better than having the courts decide what happens to the children and who gets saddled with how much of the mutual debt. This way, you can reach your own decision.