In Georgia, an uncontested divorce is usually the best option for most people facing the end of a marriage. However, an uncontested divorce requires both spouses to reach an agreement, which ideally will be fair and in the best interests of any children they may have. There are instances when an uncontested divorce is not possible and should be avoided, at least until the situation between the parties has fundamentally changed. These situations include the following common scenarios.
When One of the Spouses is Being Abused by the Other
When there is ongoing verbal abuse, domestic violence or any other form of abuse the victim cannot possibly negotiate an uncontested divorce settlement with the abuser in a fair manner. The abuser will almost always resort back to some type of abuse to get her or his way. Only after the abuse stops and the situation normalizes should an uncontested divorce be considered. Also, in the negotiations a formally abused spouse needs a strong willed attorney that is experienced with cases involving abuse.
The Parties Have Problems Communicating About an Uncontested Divorce
Temporary periods of no communication can be waited out and worked through. But if the other party refuses to communicate with you or your attorney, you will be left with no choice but to file an uncontested divorce and use the power of the court to get results. It is possible that if both parties will submit to formal mediation the communication problems can be overcome. However, until some type of progress is made in communication between the spouses, an uncontested divorce will be impossible.
Your Spouse is Unreasonable in Their Demands for an Uncontested Divorce
For example, if one spouse is unwilling to share the marital assets debts fairly or will not let the other see his or her children, an uncontested divorce will only result in a bad settlement for the other party. It is important for both parties to be able to step back and look at their case objectively and then be willing to compromise and offer a fair settlement. Just because one party is emotionally hurt does not mean that the other party needs to be “punished” by not being able to see his or her children or by being deprived of a fair share of the marital assets and debts.
Other scenarios could involve unreasonable demands for alimony, child support, child custody and visitation. These are not uncommon stalemates in a case that eventually result in a contested divorce having to be filed. While most divorce cases will be settled given enough time, if one of the parties has lost patience and the other party will only offer unreasonable settlement terms, an uncontested divorce is not a viable option.
Your Spouse Cannot Be Located
If your spouse cannot be located, for example they have left the state or country and cannot be found using reasonable means, an uncontested divorce is not an option. An uncontested divorce will require both parties to reach an agreement and sign several documents to be filed with the court. And if one of the parties is totally absent, there is no way for that person to reach an agreement and sign a Divorce Settlement Agreement or even acknowledge service of the divorce. While a divorce by publication is a possibility in this situation, an uncontested divorce is not.
The Other Spouse is Incompetent or has Mental Illness
If one of the spouses is incompetent or mentally ill, it is unreasonable to believe that they are in a position to enter into a fair divorce agreement. For example, someone might have profound depression, schizophrenia or be deeply involved with drugs. Sometimes people do reach some type of divorce agreement with their incompetent spouse, but the validity of the agreement could be challenged later by the other spouse when they are better or by other family members. It has been our experience that if one of the spouses has mental illness or is otherwise deemed incompetent, it is best to file a contested divorce case and bring this issue to the court’s attention as soon as possible. Usually, the court will render a judgment that is fair and satisfactory to the party bringing the divorce, and the court will be familiar with the facts of the case should the other party seek modifications and try to challenge the judgment later.
The Other Spouse Does Not Want to Get Divorced
Frequently, an uncontested divorce becomes impossible because the other spouse in reality, does not want to be divorced. The will not usually say this out loud, but it will be evident in their actions and unwillingness to negotiate, communicate or respond in a timely manner regarding the divorce. This my also manifests itself in very unreasonable demands regarding assets, custody, alimony and other issues that need to be settled. Also, the other spouse seems to be agreeable to an uncontested divorce, but will never sign the necessary papers for the divorce to be completed. Frequently, when pressured to sign they will come back with small demands for changes to the documents and other reasons or excuses to delay signing the documents. While many of these cases will settle over a long period of time, there may be very good reasons for the other spouse to speed things along. While the filing of a contested divorce should not be taken lightly, if there are no minor children and no significant marital assets or debts, a contested divorce may be a very attractive option to a stalemate in divorce negotiations that may go on for a year or more. The filing of a contested divorce may be all that is required to move the other party to negotiate in good faith and enter into a divorce settlement so they avoid having to hire an attorney to go to a court hearing.
In closing, if you are seeking an uncontested divorce it is important to be reasonable, communicate and do not try to force your demands onto the other party. Otherwise, they will likely have to hire an attorney to file a contested divorce which may result in a judgment than is less desirable than what the parties could have negotiated on their own.
If you are facing divorce and are interested in trying to resolve the matter as an uncontested divorce case, call us at 770-609-1247 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Georgia uncontested divorce attorneys.