Apr 20

Can you get an uncontested divorce? (Part 1)

Written by: Megan Dell

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No one wants to get divorced. But if you have to get divorced, you want an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces take less time and are less expensive.  Unfortunately, “uncontested” can mean different things to different people.

At Dell Family Law, we consider a divorce to be uncontested if everyone agrees on each and every decision, big or small, that needs to be made about how to end the marriage.

For couples who do not have children in common, here’s a list of the terms couples should agree on for an uncontested divorce:

Real Property & Mortgages

For each and every parcel of real property or land (including your home), will one of the spouses continue to own it?

    • If yes, who will own it? Who will live in it? When will the other spouse move out? When will any utilities be transferred from the other spouse’s name? Who will be responsible for payment of the mortgage? What will happen if the mortgage is not paid? How will any equity in the property be divided? Who will be responsible for preparation of any documents needed to transfer the deed? Will the mortgage need to be refinanced? (If so, when will the refinance occur? What will happen if the mortgage cannot be refinanced?)
    • If no, and the property has to be sold, who will live there while the house is on the market? When will the other spouse move out? Who will be responsible for maintenance, upkeep, and/or repairs while the home is listed? Who will be responsible for payment of the mortgage while the house is listed? What will happen if the mortgage is not paid? Who will choose the realtor? Who will have the authority to direct the realtor’s activities? Who will decide whether to accept or reject an offer from a potential buyer? Who will decide if/when to reduce the listing price? What will happen if the house cannot be sold as quickly as expected? Who will pay closing costs? Who will receive the profits from the sale? What will happen if there are no proceeds from the sale?

    Retirement Accounts and Pensions

    For each and every retirement account or pension, which of the spouses will continue to own it? If so, how much will each spouse be entitled to receive? Who will be responsible for initiating the division? When will division of the funds happen? How will tax consequences of the division be minimized? Who will be responsible for preparation of any documents needed to accomplish the division?

    Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships, LLCs

    For each and every business or established entity, will one of the spouses continue to own it? If so, who will own it and its assets? Who will be responsible for preparing any documents to transfer ownership of the entity or its assets? Who will be entitled to any profits earned? Who will be responsible for any debts owed? Who will be responsible for any liability incurred?

    Financial Accounts

    For each and every financial account, will one of the spouses continue to own it?

      • If yes, who will own the funds in it? If necessary, how will ownership of the account be transferred?
      • If no, who will be responsible for closing the account? Who will own any funds in the account when it is closed?

      Cars, Boats, and Vehicles

      For each and every car, boat, or other vehicle, will one of the spouses continue to own it?

        • If yes, who will own it? Who will be responsible for payment of the note or lease? What will happen if the note or lease is not paid? Who will be responsible for the costs of insurance, taxes, tags, and maintenance? Who will be responsible for preparation of any documents needed to transfer the title? Will the note need to be refinanced? (If so, when will the refinance occur? What will happen if the note cannot be refinanced?)
        • If no, what will happen to the property? How will proceeds from any sale of the property be divided? Who will be responsible for maintaining any note or lease payments? What will happen if the note or lease payments are not made?

        Tools, Equipment, Household Furnishings, Photographs

        For each and every tool or piece of equipment, who will own it? When will they take possession of it?

        For each and every household furnishing, who will own it? When will they take possession of it?

        For each and every family photo, who will own the original? When will they take possession of it? How will the other spouse obtain a copy, if desired?

        Credit Cards, Loans, and Other Debts

        For each and every credit card, will the account remain open?

          • If so, which spouse will be entitled to continue using the account? Will one spouse’s name need to be removed from the account? What will happen if the spouse cannot be removed? Who will be responsible for paying any outstanding balance? What will happen if the outstanding balance is not paid?
          • If not, which spouse will be responsible for paying any outstanding balance? What will happen if the outstanding balance is not paid?

          For each and every loan, who will be responsible for paying the balance?  What will happen if the balance is not paid?

          For each and every cell phone line, will the line remain open? If yes, which spouse will be entitled to continue using the line? Will the line need to be ported to a new account? Will one spouse’s name need to be removed from the account? What will happen if the spouse cannot be removed? Who will be responsible for any balance owed on the line?

          Taxes

          Who will be responsible for any existing tax liability from prior years?

          How will tax returns be filed – jointly or separately – for the last year of the marriage? Who will be entitled to any resulting tax refund? Who will be responsible for any resulting tax liability?

          Alimony

          Will either party pay alimony or spousal support to the other? If yes, how much? How frequently? When will payment(s) be due? How will payment(s) be made? When can payment(s) be modified? When can payment(s) be terminated?

          Health Insurance

          Will one spouse continue to provide health, dental, and/or vision insurance coverage for the other spouse during the separation? If so, how long will coverage be provided? Who will be responsible for the cost of the premiums? How will the covered spouse confirm that coverage is active?

          Attorney’s Fees

          Who will be responsible for hiring an attorney to prepare the agreement? Who will be responsible for paying the attorney’s fees?

          Yes, there are a lot of details, even in an uncontested divorce! And leaving them out can cause in long-term consequences like damage to your credit score, liability for an accident caused by your ex, or delayed receipt of retirement benefits. (There are more decisions to make in a divorce with children, and we will cover those in an upcoming post.)

          Now that you understand how complex an uncontested divorce can be, schedule a consultation so we can give you personalized advice to avoid unintended consequences.