(BA, MBA, JD)
Attorney at Law
Lieutenant Robinson, U.S. Navy Flight Instructor, 1992
All Rights Reserved. Copyright 1999 by Ronald Robinson.
Contested versus Uncontested
Whether it's a divorce, an issue associated with divorce (custody, visitation, spousal support, child support, assets, debts), or the modification of a previous court order: a matter is "contested" if the parties are not in agreement on all necessary terms and may need to file something in court and/or proceed to a hearing or trial in court. Contested matters are often settled without a hearing or trial, but may require extensive help from each party's attorney to achieve that settlement.
Arguments or disagreements between the parties in family law matters are normal. Fortunately, most parties reach an agreement without requiring a hearing or trial to settle their differences.
If you truly have an uncontested matter, then it should mean one or more of the following:
A) Much lower attorney fees
B) Reduced or no time in court
C) Less emotional turmoil between the parties and lower stress
In the field of family law, there are various understandings of what constitutes an "uncontested matter". Whether it's a divorce, an issue associated with divorce (custody, support, assets, debts, pensions), or the modification or amendment of a previous court order, if a matter is truly "uncontested" then it basically means the parties agree on all necessary terms and do not need to proceed to a contested hearing or trial in court.
For instance, normally an "uncontested divorce" is one in which neither party opposes a "no fault" divorce and both parties agree (in writing) on all settlement terms before anything is filed in court (petitions, complaints, motions, suits). In a typical divorce, this means you've already agreed on the actual specifics of custody, visitation, asset division, debt division, spousal support, child support, health insurance, etc.
This does not mean that your matter will be free of arguments or disagreements. It does mean that both parties are able to reach an agreement without going to court and submitting their personal and family matters to the government (judges) for a decision.
Uncontested does not mean "we've agreed on everything except ___________". Uncontested does not mean "we're already in court, but I think we're ready to settle". Uncontested does not mean "I think my spouse will agree to these things." If you fit into one of those categories, then you must first start your process with a phone or office consultation with Mr. Robinson of at least one hour.
In a nutshell, here is the basic process in handling most actual uncontested matters:
1. You -- Consult with Mr. Robinson (choose the "Up to 30 minutes" phone consult option at a minimum)
2. You -- Sign a legal services agreement, make a reduced deposit and/or fixed fee payment, complete an "uncontested" family law questionnaire (describe in detail the terms you've agreed upon)
3. Mr. Robinson -- Drafts your settlement agreement and/or court order
4. Both Parties -- Sign and notarize the settlement agreement and/or court order
5. Additional steps as necessary depending on the type of case (divorce filing, child support modification motion, etc)
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