I get calls every day from prospective clients asking what an uncontested divorce is and whether they qualify. If you are wondering the same thing, read on to learn about uncontested divorces and whether one is right for you.
What Is An Uncontested Divorce in Louisiana?
Uncontested divorces include any divorce where the separating couple mutually agrees to divorce and is able to reach amicable terms for other issues that may be applicable such as child custody, child support, spousal support, or community property partition. Most uncontested divorces can be finalized in a timely fashion out of court and save a lot of headache and money.
Pros of getting an Uncontested Divorce in Louisiana.
An uncontested divorce can save you a lot of money because there are no court appearances, no back-and-forth between attorneys, and no fighting. An uncontested divorce is straightforward so the costs are straightforward as well. Some attorneys will charge a flat fee for uncontested divorces. Most attorneys will charge you hourly with an advance deposit for contested cases. A low-cost flat-fee is always more appealing that an unknown amount of money. Additionally, most courts charge less in filing fees for uncontested divorces, saving you money on your total amount paid for your divorce.
Uncontested divorces generally take much less time to complete than contested divorces. Fighting over issues can draw divorces out over several years. However, an uncontested divorce can sometimes be completed in a matter of weeks. Because there are no arguments, no court hearings, and no back-and-forth between attorneys, uncontested divorces can be completed quickly and efficiently.
An uncontested divorce allows divorcing spouses the chance to end their marriage without destroying any remnants of their relationship. This is especially important when children are involved. Instead of fighting tooth-and-nail over every little issue – and paying your attorneys for it in the process – divorcing spouses can work together to come up with a plan that best suits their family. If you are able to continue to work with your spouse after ending your relationship, an uncontested divorce is a good route to maintain your relationship with your spouse and your family.
Cons of getting an Uncontested Divorce in Louisiana.
Pressure From One Spouse
An uncontested divorce is not recommended when one spouse is attempting to con the other out of his/her rights. If you feel like you need the court to intervene on issues such as custody, child support, spousal support, or separation of community property, you should not agree to an uncontested divorce because your spouse is pressuring you. Likewise, if your spouse is the breadwinner and controls the finances, you should not agree to an uncontested divorce before determining what rights you may be entitled to.
Inability to Cooperate
An uncontested divorce is also a bad idea if you are not able to talk with your spouse without fighting. If your spouse refuses to have any discussion with you about divorce, or every conversation ends in a screaming match, but you are determined to move forward with divorcing, you will likely need to move forward with a contested divorce and probably should hire an attorney. Similarly, you cannot come to an agreement on matters incidental to your divorce such as custody, child support, spousal support, or separation of community property, you will likely need to file an uncontested divorce to have the court determine those issues of disagreement.
How long does it take to get an Uncontested Divorce in Louisiana?
The length of time it takes to get an uncontested divorce in Louisiana depends on whether you and your spouse have already been living separate and apart for the period of time required by law. If you have minor children of the marriage, you must be separated for one year before obtaining your final divorce judgment. If there are no minor children of the marriage, you must be separated for six months before obtaining your final divorce judgment.
When You Have Already Been Separated
If you and your spouse have been separated for the required amount of time, you can obtain your divorce judgment rather quickly in Louisiana through a series of paperwork filings with the court. Neither you nor your spouse will need to appear at court. If you have an attorney, your attorney will handle everything for you and all you and your spouse will have to do is provide information and sign paperwork. An uncontested divorce when you have already been separated for the required amount of time can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months to finalize. See here for additional information on timing of uncontested divorces.
If you and your spouse have agreed to matters other than divorce like child custody, child support, spousal support, or community property partition, these issues can be presented for the judge’s signature in the form of a “Consent Judgment.” Your attorney will prepare this Consent Judgment(s) for you and your spouse’s signature and will file the judgment for execution by the court.
When You Have Not Met Louisiana’s Separation Requirement
You can still obtain an uncontested divorce if you have not been separated for the time required by law (one year with minor children of the marriage; six months with no minor children of the marriage).
There are three main reasons to file when you have not been separated for the required amount of time. First, you can have your custody, child support, and/or spousal support consent judgment entered by the court while you wait for your time to pass. Second, you can terminate your community property regime prior to waiting for your time to pass. And third, for mental peace of mind that you are taking action on your divorce.
When you file before you have been separated for the required amount of time, your six months or one year will “start over” from the time your spouse in served. In uncontested divorces, your spouse will likely sign a “Waiver of Service” which will accomplish service. Once the required time for being separated has passed, your attorney will file to set a hearing to finalize your divorce. If your spouse signs a second “Waiver of Service” at this point, your attorney will have you sign a sworn statement relating to your divorce and separation and will attend the hearing alone. If your spouse does not sign a second “Waiver of Service,” you will have to attend the hearing and provide testimony relating to your divorce and separation. This is generally a very quick and standard proceeding. If the court finds that you were separated for the required period of time after filing your petition, it will grant your judgment of divorce.
If you and your spouse have agreed to matters other than divorce like child custody, child support, spousal support, or termination of the community property regime and community property partition, these issues can be presented for the judge’s signature in the form of a “Consent Judgment.” Your attorney will prepare this Consent Judgment(s) for you and your spouse’s signature and will file the judgment for execution by the court. This can be done anytime after you file your petition.
How much does an Uncontested Divorce in Louisiana cost?
The cost of an uncontested divorce depends on several factors:
- Have you been separated for the required amount of time;
- Do you need the court to sign off on matters other than divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, or community property partition;
- Does your spouse have his/her own attorney; and
- Do you and your spouse need help negotiating an agreement?
Some law firms offer flat fees for uncontested divorces. Flat fees are a fixed price for the services. With a flat fee, you know the end price of how much your divorce will cost. Other law firms may charge you hourly for your divorce with a deposit paid in advance. See here for more information on the cost of uncontested divorces.
Do I qualify for an Uncontested Divorce in Louisiana?
You will qualify for an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse both want to start divorce proceedings, your spouse is willing to sign paperwork for the divorce, and you and your spouse can work out all other issues, if any, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and community property partition.