Some of the divorces we handle are considered “uncontested.” Both parties come to the table ready to divorce, they don’t have children, and they have what appears to be a relatively easy estate to split up. It would seem, to some observers, that this is the type of divorce that wouldn’t even really need lawyers, except for filing it in court to make it official.
But even uncontested divorces have the potential for surprises–the kinds of surprises that aren’t fun, and that could reveal themselves well after the divorce is over. There might be assets or debts that need to be factored in to the final settlement but only come up after a thorough inventory. There might be a misunderstanding as to what qualifies as community property vs. separate property. There might be a lien on a property that might come to haunt whichever party ends up getting the property in the decree.
How do we help in uncontested divorces? First, we make sure that there’s a full inventory of finances, determining what is community property and what isn’t, as well as what is liquid and what isn’t. That allows the couple to make a more educated determination of how to split assets and debts fairly.
That also insures that the divorce can stay uncontested. We can’t represent both parties in a divorce, so in these kinds of divorces, our firm represents one party and the other operates without counsel. However, if the inventory reveals a more complicated estate than the couple first thought they had, the unrepresented party may want or need to retain her or his own lawyer.
We want to do all we can to make sure that there are no misunderstandings between two people who are getting along well enough to settle a divorce without rancor.
An uncontested divorce is still a divorce, after all, with legal and financial significance that can last well beyond when it’s signed. You want to make sure that you have a decree that works for your situation, regardless of how relatively easy you can arrive at it.