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What is an Uncontested Divorce?

I’ve handled divorces throughout the Western and Central New York area, mostly in the Rochester area, but also in Ontario County, Wayne County, Livingston County, Genesee County, and even Erie County.

I give each new divorce client the same advice: you can do this the cheap way or the expensive way.

The “cheap” way is an “uncontested” divorce. This means that the spouses reach an agreement on everything that they could have argued over in a divorce proceeding.  Things like child custody, spousal maintenance (a/k/a “alimony”), child support, and dividing up assets (like the house, cars, or bank accounts), and allocating debts.

In an uncontested divorce, the spouses need to work together to come up with at least an outline of how they are going to resolve these issues. For example, they need to discuss which parent the kids will live with primarily. Or, will the kids spend equal amounts of time with both parents? Is one spouse keeping the house, or are they selling it and dividing the proceeds? Who is responsible for credit card debt?

Many of my clients are able to work out these issues between themselves. Some work with a mediator.

Whether they do it on their own or go through mediation, if the two spouses can reach an agreement in principle, one of them should then hire a lawyer to write up a formal separation agreement. The other spouse may have their own lawyer review the agreement and suggest changes.

Once the separation agreement is signed, the hard part is over. The rest of the divorce process is really just paperwork. No one ever actually steps foot in court. The separation agreement and a lot of additional paperwork gets filed with the court, and within a relatively short time (a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on how busy the court is) a judge signs a Judgment of Divorce.

The other, “expensive” way, is a “contested” divorce. If there anything the two spouses can’t agree on, the only way to resolve it is to get a judge involved, and potentially go to trial. This can be extremely expensive. And, to be honest, it’s almost never worth it. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the result you get after spending months or years and thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in a contested divorce is pretty close to the same result you could have had with an uncontested divorce.

Bottom line: no one wants to spend money they don’t need to—especially on a divorce! So, if you can, do it the cheap, uncontested, way.

Ganguly Brothers, PLLC handles both contested and uncontested divorces throughout the Greater Rochester Area, including Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, Yates, Livingston, Wyoming, Steuben, Genesee, and Orleans counties.

If you’re thinking about divorce, contact us for a free consultation.

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