A divorce, under any circumstances, is an emotionally difficult process. That said, not all divorces have to be psychologically devastating and cost a fortune. The easiest and least expensive method of divorcing your spouse is through an uncontested divorce. Although most people understand the general concept of an uncontested divorce, every legal proceeding contains certain nuances that may trip up the unprepared.
Skilled divorce attorneys in the area could make sure none of the details of your case are forgotten. To begin your dissolution of your marriage, call a Columbia uncontested divorce lawyer now.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
In the state, every divorce must have at least one a legal basis, known as a ground. Common grounds for divorce are:
- Inappropriate Marital Conduct
- Habitual Drunkenness or Abuse of Narcotic Drugs
- Irreconcilable Differences
With the exception of irreconcilable differences, all of the grounds for divorce are based on a spouse’s fault. Put another way, to obtain a divorce on a fault-based ground, you must prove that your spouse is guilty of that particular ground.
With an irreconcilable differences divorce, the parties are saying that they have differences so great that they cannot continue to live together as a married couple and there is no way that their marriage can be reconciled. Irreconcilable differences is not a fault-based ground, thus the parties are not alleging any fault by either party.
To obtain an irreconcilable differences divorce in the state, you must agree on every aspect of the dissolution of your marriage. This means that there must be complete agreements on the division of all property, debts, and (if there are any minor children) all co-parenting arrangements. If there are any disagreements, even relatively trivial ones, you cannot obtain a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences. Because of this, irreconcilable differences divorces are also known as uncontested or agreed divorces.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Unchallenged Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is the fastest way to get divorced in the state. While it is true that some divorces can last for several months or even years, those are the cases where spouses are fighting each other over every detail. An uncontested divorce can be finalized in as little as two or three months.
Tennessee law (T.C.A. 36-4-101) provides for what is commonly referred to as a “cooling off period”. This law requires that divorces be on file for at least 60 days (or 90 days if the parties have children under the age of 18) before the they can be finalized. There is no way around the statutory waiting period. This means that the earliest a divorce could possibly be granted in the state is on the 61st day (or 91st day if minor children are involved) after filing.
Costs Associated with Uncontested Separations
An uncontested divorce is the cheapest method of getting divorced in the state. This makes sense; after all, if there is nothing to fight over, it should be a financially streamlined process. There are two primary fees associated with an uncontested divorce: filing fees and attorney fees.
Every legal action (including divorces) requires the payment of a filing fee before the case can be initiated. Filing fees vary from county to county but can usually be found on the website of the clerk of the court that issues divorces, but they typically range between $200 and $400. If you cannot locate filing fees to your county online, feel free to call the respective clerk’s office for guidance.
If you choose to use an attorney, there will be fees associated with that representation. The fees you pay a lawyer for an uncontested divorce depend entirely on the lawyer. A well-known and respected lawyer in a large city will charge more than a general practitioner in the more rural areas of the state. Most attorneys will quote you a retainer and charge their normal hourly rate. Total fees can range anywhere from $750 to $3,000 and up.
Whenever possible, the lawyers at Parks, Bryant & Snyder, PLLC prefer to offer flat fees. We feel that people prefer the certainty of knowing exactly how much a service will cost them. Due to the predictability associated with these types of divorces, the attorneys at our firm in Columbia charge a flat fee of $1,000 for an uncontested divorce without minor children and $1,500 for an uncontested divorce with minor children.
Filing an Unchallenged Divorce in Columbia
The commencement of an uncontested divorce is substantially similar to the initial filing of a contested divorce: they both begin with the filing of a complaint for divorce. The primary difference is that, with an uncontested divorce, it is very common to file everything (the divorce complaint, marital dissolution agreement and, if applicable, the agreed permanent parenting plan) at once.
Filing all these documents simultaneously serves several purposes such as waiving the service of process on the defendant, waiving the requirement that the defendant must file an answer to the complaint, reducing trips to the courthouse. A dedicated uncontested divorce attorney in Columbia could explain the benefits of an uncontested divorce in further detail.
Call a Columbia Uncontested Divorce Attorney Now
You may very well wish to pursue an uncontested divorce; however, it takes two to tango. If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to dissolve your marriage, then you will not be able to initiate an uncontested divorce. This does not mean that you are stuck having to go to trial, it simply means the divorce will not commence with an agreement in place.
If you need help deciding if this is the right process for you, our experienced family law attorneys can consult with you help explain all your options. Please contact us and we will guide you through any divorce, contested or not.