(The Flat Rate, Faster and More Affordable Option)
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which both parties have agreed on all of the issues typically presented in a divorce, including custody, parenting time, property distribution, debt allocation, spousal support, and child support.
What are the Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce?
Two important benefits of uncontested divorces are that they take much less time than a typical divorce and are usually far less expensive. An uncontested divorce can be completed in as little as a few weeks, depending on the county in Oregon where you reside. A typical uncontested divorce at Newman Family Law, LLC is charged at a flat rate of about $2500, plus court filing fees. The typical contested divorce, on the other hand, can take a year or two and cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Who Qualifies for an Uncontested Divorce?
Anyone can “qualify” for an uncontested divorce, but as they say, “it takes two to tango.” Oftentimes, one party would like to avoid the emotional tumult, time and expense of a contested divorce, but it is not possible because an agreement cannot be reached with the other spouse regarding one or more of the issues being presented in the case.
Both parties must be willing to work together to resolve those issues that are in contention. That means that if the parties have minor children together, they will have to agree on who should have sole custody, or whether joint custody is a viable option in their case. They will need to decide jointly how much parenting time each parent should have.
They will need to apply the Oregon Child Support Guidelines to ascertain how much child support the non-custodial parent will pay to the primary parent each month, and how it will be paid (via wage withholding from the spouse’s paycheck by the state or by automatic transfer from the non-custodial parent’s bank account into the custodial parent’s account). The parties will need to agree on how the daycare and uninsured medical and dental expenses will be paid, (though the cost of daycare is usually incorporated into the child support calculation).
The parties will need to agree on whether spousal support (formerly known as alimony) will be paid by one spouse to the other, and if so, the kind, amount and duration of the spousal support.
The parties will need to agree on who gets what asset and who will pay what debts. The assets of the marriage can include the marital home, each party’s retirement account(s), pensions, boats, vehicles, investment accounts, and stock options, to name a few. The debts can include the mortgages and lines of credit on the family home, credit cards in both or either party’s name, loans from family members, tax debt and business loans. In Oregon, there is a “presumption of equal contribution” by statute which assumes that all assets acquired during the marriage belong equally to the parties, and all debts incurred during the marriage should be paid equally by the parties, but this presumption can and often is rebutted, either at trial or by agreement of the parties.
Once the parties have written up a summary of their agreement, my client will come into my office or email me to discuss the terms of the divorce and I will answer any questions he or she may have at that time. I will them prepare all of the paperwork and submit it to the court for processing.
The Attorney’s Role in an Uncontested Divorce:
The role of the attorney in a flat rate, uncontested divorce is somewhat limited. He or she does not arbitrate or mediate issues between the spouses. You and your spouse will. Since divorce is considered an inherently adverse proceeding, it is possible a conflict of interest would arise if an attorney tried to advise both parties. That is why I represent only the party who has retained me and who has signed a retainer agreement with me. Once I have prepared the divorce paperwork, my client’s spouse can, at his or her option, bring the documents to another attorney for review to make sure it is fair and reasonable before submitting it to the court for the judge’s signature.
Do You Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce?
I have been in practice for over thirty years and I can’t tell you how many times I have met with clients who have tried to handle their own divorces and have made very substantial and lifechanging mistakes in the process. Sometimes they come in while the divorce is still pending, and the mistake can still be rectified. More often, they don’t realize the problem until a few years down the line, when it is difficult or impossible to repair.
You have several options if you are contemplating an uncontested divorce. You can represent yourself by using the self-help forms on the Oregon Judicial Department’s website; you can go to a paralegal or access a cheap divorce online; or you can retain my services. I offer an affordable flat rate of $2,500 for an uncontested divorce. Your divorce will be handled by a lawyer, not a clerk, a secretary or a paralegal. Clerks, secretaries and paralegals are prohibited by law from giving you legal advice, but some do, to oftentimes catastrophic effect. If you are my client, you will be able to contact me directly with any of your questions. I will make sure your divorce is done correctly the first time around, so you can have the peace of mind to confidently move forward with your life once it is done.