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PARLEY LIKE A MOVIE STAR: An Uncontested Divorce Primer

Prior to going off to battle, opposing sides may hold a parley to avoid the inevitable cost of war. Parties to a divorce may be wise to do the same. If spouses can agree to the terms of divorce prior to filing, or have an uncontested divorce, they can avoid the time and expense of a protracted legal proceeding.

Uncontested divorces are not right for everyone. Some of the most unfair, unjust, and inequitable divorce settlements are uncontested divorces. Below are some factors to consider in determining whether an uncontested divorce is right for you, and protect your interest should you decide to parley.

  1. Divisive Issues: The most divisive issues in a divorce are child custody and support. If spouses are not going to be able to agree on those issues, then any negotiation is pointless and potentially harmful to your case.
  2. Motivation: Both sides need to be properly motivated. If a spouse doesn’t want to be divorced, then any sort of agreement on a divorce is impossible. A disparity in motivation between spouses often leads to inequitable results. A spouse who is more highly motivated to divorce than their counterpart is should be wary.
  3. Power: A victim of abuse cannot be expected to bargain with their abuser; however, the balance of power is often tilted in much more commonplace ways. For instance, a spouse who is depressed or is feeling guilty is at a far greater risk to agree to an unfair settlement.
  4. Knowledge: You need to have a good knowledge of what your spouse makes and the assets s/he has. Without that knowledge, it is impossible to know if any deal you work out is fair.
  5. Expertise: Finally, and most importantly, you need expertise. The only way to gain the appropriate expertise is to talk to an attorney experienced in family law matters. By talking with an attorney you can learn what your rights are, determine the parameters of acceptable settlement, and discover some issues that you haven’t even considered. Additionally, an attorney can prepare some settlement documents in advance that you can simply present to your spouse, which will spare you the awkward negotiation process.

An uncontested divorce is the most cost-effective and quickest way to resolve a divorce, but before you hold that parley, make sure you are prepared.

Joe Kuhl is a partner with Shea Kohl Law, LC.  He has been with the firm since 2004.

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Shea Kohl Law, LC serves clients in Missouri including St. Charles, Troy and Lincoln and throughout Warren and St. Louis counties. We also serve clients in Illinois.