Do You Need an Attorney for an Uncontested Divorce?

When it starts to become clear that your marriage is headed for divorce, even an uncontested divorce, you may find yourself facing a whole range of challenges. You might be worried about what’s going to happen to your finances following the divorce, how this decision will impact your relationship with your children, where you will be able to turn for emotional support, or how you will cope with the loss of your marriage. Even in situations where you and your spouse are working amicably through the legal issues of divorce, these stresses can be overwhelming. Sometimes, the thought of hiring an attorney may seem to add to this stress and may lead some people to consider whether an attorney is necessary for an uncontested divorce.

The Difference Between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce

In Virginia, the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce comes down to whether the divorcing spouses can reach an agreement regarding the following matters:

  • The division of property between them, including real estate, family businesses, jewelry, vehicles, cash, retirement accounts, savings, etc.;
  • Whether one party should receive alimony and, if so, how much and for how long;
  • The physical and legal custody arrangement and schedule for all children; and
  • The amount of child support

If the spouses can reach a written agreement on all of these issues, then they may proceed with an uncontested divorce. If not, then they must proceed with a contested divorce and ask the court to rule on these matters.

The Pitfalls of Going it Alone in an Uncontested Divorce

As is the case with nearly all areas of law, a party has the right to represent himself or herself without the assistance of a lawyer in family law proceedings. By doing so, the party will be responsible for making all necessary filings with the court in a timely and accurate manner, arguing their legal positions before the judge, and creating an agreement that reflects Virginia law.

The upside of forgoing the assistance of a personal lawyer is, of course, to save money in legal fees. But the downsides are numerous and may quickly and irreversibly outweigh the upside. Potential pitfalls include:

  • It’s easy to make needless errors and cause delay. Unless you have a legal background, drafting and filing the proper paperwork in line with the court’s requirements can be an extremely confusing and time-consuming task. A person could spend hours researching the divorce process and drafting the necessary paperwork to be filed with the court to only have the Judge inform him or her that the paperwork is incomplete, incorrect, or improperly filed. These errors may push back the finalization of a divorce by months or the parties may not be able to finalize the process at all without seeking legal counsel.
  • Spouses give up their rights without even realizing it. If you sign an agreement without becoming fully aware of what rights you are entitled to with regard to shared property, alimony, custody, and child support, you may not be able to recover those rights in the future. Further, if you do not ask for specific relief in the divorce pleadings, you may waive your right to be awarded that relief by the court. Therefore, even if you hire an attorney later in the process, it may be too late for you to request the relief you need.
  • The stress of a divorce can cause things to turn ugly quickly. In our experience, it is common to see spouses who simply want to move on as quickly and painlessly as possible from the marriage. In an effort to accomplish this, they pledge to one another that they will work together to resolve all of the issues surrounding the dissolution of their marriage. However, once the reality of post-separation financial and emotional issues set in, tensions flare and an uncontested divorce quickly turns contested. By working with a lawyer from the start who is skilled in filing the necessary and proper paperwork can alleviate some of the stress, encouraging a quick and amicable divorce between the parties.

Get Just the Help You Need With Your Uncontested Divorce

Each divorce case is different, and you should not work with a divorce attorney who takes a one-size-fits-all approach to your divorce. The compassionate, experienced family law attorneys at Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC in Fredericksburg understand that when you are shopping around for an attorney to help guide you through your divorce, you want only the legal services you need and nothing more. Our attorneys work with spouses who are seeking uncontested divorces, and we provide them with the guidance they need to obtain their divorce as quickly and efficiently as possible. Contact the firm today at (540) 642-1766 to schedule a consultation to see how we can help you in your uncontested divorce.

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Select Law Partners, PLLC

Legal issues can turn your life upside down. Our experienced attorneys serve clients in a variety of divorce and family law matters as well as criminal defense. To better help you plan for the future, we have significant experience with estate planning and asset protection. At Select Law, we provide our clients with customized solutions to their most challenging problems.

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