If you are in the early stages of planning for divorce, we know how important it is to have a divorce process that is as quick and effective as possible without sacrificing your rights or needs during the case. One of the best ways to ensure that your divorce is a time-efficient process that does not result in steep financial or emotional costs is to have an uncontested divorce. How can you avoid a contested divorce? A Rockville divorce lawyer at our firm can help.
Understand the Difference Between an Uncontested and a Contested Divorce
In order to learn about ways of avoiding a contested divorce, it is critical to understand the difference between an uncontested and a contested divorce. Under Maryland law, a divorce can be either uncontested or contested.
An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which the spouses have reached an agreement about all issues, from the division of marital property to child custody and child support. As soon as the spouses who are getting divorced cannot agree on even a single issue, the divorce will be contested, and a judge will need to hear the case and decide the outcome.
Given that contested divorces require one or more court hearings, they tend to take more time and to cost more in terms of both money and emotional consequences.
So, how can you avoid a contested divorce? In general, you have a couple of clear options.
Informal Negotiations with Assistance from Your Maryland Divorce Lawyer
First, you and your spouse can engage in informal negotiations with assistance from your Rockville divorce attorney. Your lawyer can communicate with your spouse’s attorney to negotiate terms concerning the division of marital assets and debts, and how you will share child custody if you have minor children from your marriage.
When information negotiations are unsuccessful, or when one or both spouses wants to engage in focused dialogue with one another to reach an agreement, the parties can turn to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes.
Mediation and Other Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes
Family mediation is the most common type of ADR that spouses use in order to avoid a contested divorce. With mediation, the parties meet with one another along with a neutral third party known as a mediator.
The parties do not present their cases to the mediator, but instead, the mediator will help to facilitate dialogue between the spouses until they reach an agreement about issues in dispute. If the parties can reach an agreement, they can move forward with an uncontested divorce. If they cannot reach an agreement, they can still take their disputes before a judge without any penalty.
Arbitration is another form of ADR that may be a possibility, but it is less focused on the dialogue between the parties since it mirrors litigation in a number of ways. While arbitration can save the time and money associated with a court hearing, the parties do present their cases before a neutral third party known as an arbitrator, and that arbitrator makes a decision that is usually binding.