Many people use the terms no fault divorce and uncontested divorce interchangeably. However, the truth is, these legal terms have very different meanings. Taking the time to fully understand the difference between these two types of divorce will ultimately help to ensure you are filing the proper petition with the court and will aid you in making the right decision regarding your need for legal counsel.
No Fault Divorces
There was a point in time when a spouse would need to prove there was grounds for divorce before a judge would be willing to grant a divorce decree. In most states, these grounds included things such as abuse, adultery, and a failure to consummate the marriage. Unfortunately, the simple fact that you were no longer in love with your spouse was not enough to establish legal grounds for divorce.
Over the years, society came to realize that nothing good came out of forcing people to remain married who did not want to be married. Consequently, most states did away with the need to assign blame in a divorce case and passed what is known as no fault divorce laws. These laws basically state that the only grounds necessary to request a legal divorce is the assertion that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
While some states still allow for the filing of a traditional divorce petition that assigns blame to their spouse, this type of petition is now quite rare as many people are choosing to simply file a no fault divorce petition rather than air their dirty laundry in open court.
While the term no fault divorce refers to the grounds for your divorce, the term uncontested divorce refers to every aspect of your divorce case, from the grounds to the final property settlement. In order for your divorce to qualify as uncontested, both you and your spouse will need to agree on everything. This means that you will need to agree on issues such as:
- the need to get divorced
- the division of debts and assets
- spousal support
- child custody, support, and visitation
If you and your spouse are unable to agree on even one of these topics, the court will be forced to intervene and issue a ruling. The need for this judicial ruling constitutes a contested divorce.
There are many benefits that come along with the ability to file an uncontested divorce petition. For instance, these divorces are often finalized much faster and will require fewer court appearance. In many cases, the ability to file an uncontested divorce will also eliminate the need to pay high legal bills since your case will not require a trial.
If you and your spouse agree on the need for a divorce but are struggling to agree on other topics, such as property division, utilizing the mediation services that many divorce attorneys have to offer may help you to resolve these issues so that you can enjoy the benefits that an uncontested divorce has to offer.
For more information, contact Reneer & Associates or a similar firm.