Over the years, you may have noticed that some couples divorce overnight while others have cases that drag on for years. The difference is whether the divorce is uncontested or contested.
The Uncontested Divorce
The benefits of an uncontested divorce appeal to many people who want to dissolve their marriage quickly with less rancor and with smaller legal bills. In Alabama, an uncontested divorce can be filed and approved by the court in approximately eight weeks. To complete a fast and relatively painless divorce, you and your partner must agree on everything, including child custody, child support, alimony and the division of property. This can be challenging. The meeting of the minds doesn’t have to happen immediately. You can still negotiate and hammer out the details without going through the expense and effort of a contested divorce.
The Contested Divorce
The same options do not work for everyone. Contested divorces are sometimes necessary for achieving satisfactory outcomes if the couple has a challenging custody situation or complex financial agreement. If you already know that there’s a dispute or several disputes that must be decided by a judge, the divorce will be contested. Depending on how many cases the family court needs to hear, a contested divorce might be settled in a month or after a year or two if there are delays and appeals.
Settling Disputes Out of Court
Even if you’ve agreed to one type of divorce, the process isn’t guaranteed. A judge may end up hearing an uncontested divorce if some unexpected issues arise. Ideally, you and your partner or your attorneys should limit the issues that will be contested in court to control time and cost expenditures. In contested divorces, this negotiation process may help the couple reach a favorable settlement before the case goes to trial.
Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediation
Today, many couples use mediation to settle disputes before, during and after the divorce. With help from a mediator, most couples can communicate maturely and maintain a respectful tone even when other negotiations have become hostile. Communication determines how the divorce proceeds from the first discussion until the case is settled. Your attorney can help you handle the situation with dignity.
If you and your partner are considering divorce, talk to an attorney about your options and the best way to achieve your goals. At Allums Welsch, PC, our family law attorneys have helped clients in Bessemer, Birmingham and surrounding areas since 2001. Our experienced attorneys and friendly office staff are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.