CONTESTED OR UNCONTESTED DIVORCE

 

“Divorce does not mean the end, it means a new beginning.”

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Divorce often feels like the end of the world. Marilyn knows firsthand as she has personally been through a divorce more than once. Of course, it feels that way. It is the end of a relationship that you have surely been in for years, sometimes as many as twenty plus. That is a lifetime. The changes that come with divorce are substantial and often feel catastrophic. At the peak of separation, everything feels overwhelming, the emotional swings, the financial toll, the confusion and worry, the children’s reactions, the loss of every routine, and the future plan you thought were secure. It’s no wonder people even find the courage to file for divorce, yet almost half of all marriages end in divorce. What may surprise you is that this 50% mark doesn’t occur until after the 20th year of marriage! So many people stay married for the kids or perhaps are distracted by raising kids and don’t realize that their marriage has fallen apart in the meantime. Even without considering children, people change substantially over their lifetime and the chances of two people growing and changing in compatible ways and staying together are apparently only about 50/50 because of the myriad of causes for divorce.

Whether you think you have your divorce terms agreed to or not, Marilyn and her team of attorneys and paralegals will take the lead and direct you through the entire process.  We will ensure you avoid obstacles whenever possible, that you have a clear understanding of the process, and have proper information and direction on how you can best help your case progress forward in the most effective and efficient manner. We will tell you the hard stuff so you have reasonable and realistic expectations. Contested divorce cases are complicated and expensive. If you try to save money on good quality legal representation, you may very well lose way more than you would have spent on us. We have seen this first hand in so many cases. Often we have people come in after the fact to find out if we can fix their case. Most often the answer sadly is, “it’s too late”.

“While you may not have picked the right mate, don’t compound your troubles by picking the wrong law firm to represent you in your divorce!”

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Please read the information below but it will not be all you need to know when you are in a contested or uncontested divorce.  You absolutely should do an Initial Consultation with one of our specialized family law attorneys before you take any further steps.

What is a contested divorce?

A contested divorce is one in which both spouses cannot come to an agreement on all the issues relating to the divorce, or in which one spouse does not want to go through with the divorce. Common issues that spouses cannot agree on include child custody, child visitation, child and spousal support, and property division. If these issues cannot be resolved and remain contested, the divorce will proceed to court. If your spouse will not sign papers or participate in the divorce, you can get a valid divorce through a default judgment. In a contested divorce, you should have the Best Family Law Team to help you understand your options and protect your interests and rights.

A contested divorce is any divorce that is filed by only one party, effectively suing the other spouse for a divorce. A contested divorce does not mean you contest the actual divorce, which you cannot legally do as an aside, but rather that you disagree with the requests your spouse is making in filing the divorce as it relates to assets, debts, support, or custody. The good news is that even when cases start contested, you and your spouse will likely be able to reach a divorce agreement through negotiation or mediation before Trial. In fact, most divorces settle before Trial. Although our skilled attorneys do all we can to avoid a costly and emotional legal battle, we are absolutely prepared to litigate your case in court as necessary to protect you and your children.

A big problem in a contested divorce can be Bullies and Litigation Happy Attorneys who escalate the conflict. Hiring a great family attorney can save you a lot of money and effort, and many times over if your spouse does the same.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is a divorce where husband and wife can agree on how to divide all community property, assets, and debts and agree on child custody, visitation, child support, and alimony. An uncontested divorce works for couples who are not extremely angry at one another and recognize that even though their marriage did not work out, they do not want to punish the other for the things that lead to the decision to get a divorce.

This is the ideal method for settling and finalizing your divorce case. An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse have negotiated and agreed to the terms of your divorce without the need to file a contested case. Who could be better to make financial and custodial decisions for yourself and your family than you and your spouse? Well, that’s assuming you two can navigate the extreme emotions of a divorce and come to such an agreement. We can absolutely help you do that. Sometimes we hire private judges to mediate the matter as well and ultimately reach the full settlement that way. In any case, if you are able to settle all financial and custodial matters in your case, we will draft what is referred to as a “Marital Settlement Agreement” or “MSA” which you will both sign. That will be filed with the court, along with several other documents such as a Joint Petition for Divorce, also signed by the two of you; and the proposed Decree of Divorce, which is the judge’s order adopting the terms set forth in your MSA and the Order that terminates the status of your marriage making you single again!  With an uncontested divorce, you do not even have to appear in court. Our retainer for an uncontested divorce starts at  $3,000.

An uncontested divorce is the simplest, quickest, and most cost-effective way to get a divorce because husband and wife have come to an agreement on issues that courts decide when divorcing couples cannot agree. While couples often have attorneys to represent them in negotiations in an uncontested divorce, attorney fees are typically significantly lower than in contested divorce actions because although there might be minor differences, the spouses are in agreement about the fundamental issues that must be decided at divorce. The role of attorneys in an uncontested divorce is typically limited to drafting the papers containing the terms of the agreement the couple has reached on their own. However, sometimes couples have attorneys to help them reach an agreement and negotiate through their attorneys who have the experience to suggest resolutions that couples may not reach on their own.

An uncontested divorce keeps conflict levels lower during and after the divorce and is the right choice for you if you and your spouse have had discussions about your things and are not arguing about who gets what. For example, some couples agree that one spouse keeps the house and the other spouse gets the furniture and a lump sum payment to equalize the value of the home equity. Another way divorcing couples can come to an agreement about divorce is when they each agree to keep all debt incurred in their own names. In other words, each spouse will agree to pay off his or her own credit cards and not hold the other responsible for debt incurred during the marriage. Divorcing couples often cannot agree about custody and visitation of their children. However, if you and your spouse can agree on where your child(ren) should live and the time they should spend with each parent, then an uncontested divorce may be the right choice for you.

Uncontested divorces can work best in short marriages with no assets or children or where joint custody of children is agreeable. Many divorces that start out uncontested end up contested for one or more reasons such as:
1.  One spouse thinks the marriage is over and the other does not.
2.  At least one spouse remains greedy and uninformed about divorce.
3.  Spouses are not able to talk to each other.
4.  Emotions are high concerning custody, visitation, and support of children.
5.  There is domestic violence.
6.  One spouse wants to hurt the other more than save money.
7.  One spouse thinks the other is hiding significant assets or income.
8.  There are complications such as lots of assets, tax consequences, joint titles to real property, joint loans, or if children have unusual needs.

Here are some topics to discuss with your spouse if you think an uncontested divorce is the right choice for you:
 1.  Will one of you stay in the marital residence? How will you divide the equity if you are homeowners?
 2.  Where will the children live? Will they live with both parents or primarily with one parent and have regular visitation with the other? When will visits occur?
 3.  How will you divide holiday visitation with the children?
 4.  Who will provide health insurance for your children?
 5.  How will you pay for uncovered medical expenses?
 6.  How will you divide your furniture, car(s), home decor, tools, and other assets?
 7.  Who will pay which bills?
 8.  Do you have pension accounts, IRAs, or 401K accounts? How will they be divided?
 9.   Do you need to change your will, trust, bank accounts, insurance beneficiaries?
 10.   Will one spouse pay alimony to the other? How much and for how long?
 11.   Child support is set by Nevada statute and cannot be waived. If you have one child, child support is 18% of your gross monthly income, for two children it is 25% of your gross monthly income, for three children it is 29% of your gross monthly income. There are other considerations regarding child support including presumed maximum monthly amounts, the way it is offset when parents share joint physical custody, and other factors such as a parent’s legal obligation for support of others. To see the statutes governing child support Click Here.

To be eligible for a divorce in Nevada, you and/or your spouse must be a resident of Nevada for at least six weeks prior to the filing of your divorce case, unless the cause of your divorce accrued here or it is the last state in which you and your spouse cohabited. Nevada must also be the “home state” of your children if you wish to have custody and/or support for your children adjudicated here. Home state means your children have resided in Nevada for at least 6 consecutive months immediately before the commencement of the child custody proceeding or since birth if your child is less than six months old. Nevada is a no-fault divorce state, meaning the spouse seeking the divorce is not required to accuse the other spouse of any wrongdoing.

Our exclusive family law office can help by drafting a Joint Petition for Divorce and the other accompanying documents. We cannot represent both spouses in an uncontested divorce but we can make the process as seamless as possible if you and your spouse agree on all of the significant issues that arise during a divorce. We can also advise you regarding the law governing child support, alimony, division of community property assets and debts, and provide other practical advice based on our experience in family law.

We save you stress and grief because:
• We are sensitive yet direct with you and more importantly, we are always powerful in representing you.
• We are hard-working, attentive, diligent, ethical, competent, empathetic, experienced in family law, and dedicated and yes we will also aggressively fight for you where your case needs it; but we will do so much more than that for you.