Divorce can be a complicated process so getting help with settling an uncontested divorce can mean that your life can be back to relative normality as soon as possible.
What is an uncontested divorce?
Basically, it is a divorce that is settled before you even step foot in the courtroom. All the matters (such as division of property, child custody, and division of assets) are agreed on before any court proceedings can take place. A contested divorce, on the other hand, is when one or both of the parties disagree over the assets or over child custody.
This can actually reduce the amount of assets there are to divide, as the parities will have to cough up cash for lawyer fees; the longer the negotiations go on for, the more expensive the proceedings become. This means that it is far more favourable to sort out divorce issues before they go to trial in an uncontested divorce.
What matters need to be considered in an uncontested divorce?
To avoid the hassle and heartache (not to mention expense) of a contested divorce, there are a number of issues that need settling as part of the divorce procedure. Each couple has a unique situation with different assets to consider, but some of the most important considerations include:
- Child custody: Who will be the main guardian of the child or children, and how will you designate where and how the children will spend their time and other visitation rights issues? Additionally, who will be paying child support and maintenance and how much will these payments be? You may want to include a visitation schedule to finalise the visitation terms.
- Spousal support: Will one of the spouses be entitled to some kind of maintenance pay? If so, how much and how often?
- Debt payments: This is one of the most important issues to agree upon, as you must decide which spouse will be responsible for paying for which debts. If these debts can’t be paid off immediately, it is best that they are transferred to the name of the relevant spouse. If your name is still on account, it means that the creditor can still hold you responsible for the debt.
- Property and asset division: How will you share expensive items such as your home, cars, furniture, and any other assets you have accumulated?
- Retirement accounts: pensions, social security payments and retirement accounts may be of significant value and depending on how long you were married, you may be entitled to a portion of your spouse’s pension and similar benefits.
- Medical Aid: If your medical aid or health insurance is in your spouse’s name you will need to find out from the company what will happen when you get divorced. You should also enquire about whether the cover of your dependants will be affected in any way. If you are under your spouse’s medical aid scheme, you will usually be forced to get another insurance plan for yourself.
Once you have agreed on a divorce settlement, you can approach the court with this arrangement already in place. Because the judge does not need to litigate the issues, a significant amount of time and money is saved on the divorce proceedings. The agreement needs to be written into a contract that contains all the divorce terms, known as a marital settlement agreement.
This document in incorporated into the final decree of divorce and become obligations that can be legally enforced. The court will review the marriage settlement agreement and confirm with both parties that they understand all its contents. They may ask a few questions before being satisfied the agreement is both voluntary and fair.
What documents will I need to provide in court?
Although each court may have different policies depending on location, items you will usually have to bring with you are:
- The marital settlement agreement (bring several copies).
- A copy of your child support order and a copy of your spousal support order if you have one.
- Photo identification of both parties.
- A copy of other relevant document, such as quit-claim deed to property.