Uncontested Divorce Does Not Mean No-Fault Divorce

An uncontested divorce is a marital breakup that is resolved by agreement or by proceeding by default. A default divorce happens when the respondent or defendant fails to respond to the issues alleged in the petition or complaint. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree to everything, as opposed to a contested action, which is adversarial.

In an uncontested action, the spouses go separate ways without a trial and in some cases, without even appearing in court. The spouses, in the case of summary actions, file jointly. They complete and file court forms that stipulate the terms and conditions of property distribution and child custody and visitation. A judge approves the settlement unless it grossly unfair to one party. A couple can agree to divide the marital estate in any way that is legal. When the divorce is not contested, very often the spouses can negotiate their own settlement, and the involvement of attorneys and professionals is minimal.

Uncontested divorces lend themselves to one spouse doing the work pro se, and the other letting everything fall into place because both parties have discussed all the issues that need to be discussed and settled. By comparison, no-fault refers only to the reason (“grounds”) for a divorce. The reason for the breakup is not relevant; meaning an uncontested divorce may have a fault ground, like adultery. It is possible for spouses to agree that there was marital fault that caused the marital breakdown.

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