Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce in New York?

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Divorce is always a highly complicated process. It involves a careful balancing of ruptured emotional bonds with legal responsibilities. Moreover, from property division to child custody, there’s quite a lot for the former couple to discuss and negotiate. For this and other reasons, it’s always best to hire a lawyer when preparing for a divorce, even when dealing with a comparatively less difficult uncontested divorce. This blog post will explain the difference between contested and uncontested divorce, as well as elaborate on why having a lawyer by your side is so important. If you’re considering getting a divorce, call a Suffolk County divorce attorney today. We’ll offer you our guidance and insight, as we offer all our clients.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

When two former spouses get an uncontested divorce, that means they’ve agreed on every issue pertinent to the legal ending of the relationship. Since the former spouses agree in this case, this obviates the need for court litigation. Instead, the judge will sign off on the former spouses’ agreement and issue a decree finalizing the divorce. Uncontested divorces also occur when one of the exes refuses to show up in court, after which the court may declare the divorce uncontested and finalize it anyway.

If agreement is so important, what are the topics the former spouses must agree on for an uncontested divorce? The former couple must agree that:

  • Both want a divorce
  • Both agree on the grounds for a divorce
  • Both exes agree on every part of the property division
  • Both agree on alimony, child custody, child support, and child visitation.

Rather than moving to a contested divorce, you can have a collaborative divorce, where the parties openly communicate and work together to come to an agreement with the help of specially trained collaborative divorce attorneys.

What About Contested Divorce?

When the former spouses can’t agree on the key issues listed above, and one or both spouses still want a divorce, then a collaborative or contested divorce may be necessary. In collaborative divorces, mediation and negotiation are used to avoid litigating in court. By nature a more adversarial process, contested divorce involves one ex suing the other, with all the accouterments of a lawsuit: discovery, submitting evidence, calling on expert and character witnesses, and testifying.

Uncontested divorces are typically faster, requiring fewer proceedings and negotiations. This makes an uncontested divorce much less stressful and much cheaper than a contested divorce. Another big advantage of uncontested divorce is that the former couple has more say over the end result, rather than having a decision decided for them by the judge.

However, if at any point the former spouses start to disagree on key topics, an uncontested divorce can become a contested divorce.

Do I Need a Lawyer if I’m Getting an Uncontested Divorce?

You are not required by law to hire a lawyer for an uncontested divorce in New York. However, the former spouses will need to coordinate at a high level for an uncontested divorce, and even then, at any time disagreement over a critical issue can make the divorce contested. With all this uncertainty, having a lawyer experienced in divorce cases is an invaluable help.

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