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Uncontested Divorce in Nebraska

Divorce is undeniably difficult for everyone involved, including the spouses, their children, and even their extended family, friends, and community. Even when a divorce is a very needed change, that change can have immediate short-term negative effects emotionally and financially. There is often a build-up of anger, worries, and hurt that have led a spouse from walking down the aisle to start their marriage to sitting in a divorce attorney’s office signing paperwork to end it.

Sometimes divorce is a unilateral decision by one spouse and takes the other by surprise. Sometimes divorce is the only option to stop repeated patterns of unhealthy relationship behavior or is necessary to preserve financial security or even physical safety. Whatever the reason for divorce, most spouses involved in one are hopeful that their divorce will be resolved quickly, fairly, and without either person spending too much money on lawyers. Because of those common goals, “uncontested divorce” has become a buzzword. But what does “uncontested divorce” really mean?

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “uncontested” means “not disputed or challenged.” In a truly uncontested divorce, both spouses agree about how to resolve all major issues that the Judge would otherwise have to decide in their case, including issues such as: the grounds for divorce (if required); valuation and division of assets and debts; child custody and parenting time; child support and child(ren)’s expenses; and spousal support. Sometimes this type of divorce is called “Collaborative Practice” by lawyers because it requires cooperation and collaboration between the spouses and their lawyers to make sure the legal documents do what the spouses intend.

In an uncontested or collaborative divorce, no temporary motions regarding any of these areas need to be filed or heard. There would be no need for the formal discovery process as both spouses have access to all financial information in both names. Both spouses are honest and open about everything they own and everything they owe. Uncontested divorce also requires that both spouses do not change their mind along the way such that court intervention becomes required.

As you may imagine, this level of agreement does not occur very often in divorce, as spouses who are able to reach and commit to agreements that are fair and compromises that meet both spouses’ needs have a foundation to make a marriage partnership work. Many of these spouses can avoid divorcing in the first place. For those divorcing spouses who can work through a truly uncontested divorce, the benefits include: minimized conflict, reduced costs, and expedited completion of the process.

What an Uncontested Divorce Is Not?

Now that we have reviewed the definition of Uncontested Divorce fully, it is important to also note what an Uncontested Divorce is NOT:

  1. An Uncontested Divorce is NOT Necessarily Easy or Simple: While uncontested divorces are typically less adversarial and less expensive than contested ones, they still require full review of information and understanding of one’s legal rights and obligations. Because Decrees are permanent and final orders of the Court that can be very difficult or impossible to change, careful consideration is necessary at all stages of the process. It can be challenging for spouses to do this, particularly if emotions and stress are involved. Many issues cannot be revisited later. For example, in most cases, spouses only have one chance to correctly divide and assign financial obligations. Parenting obligations often have more room for future modification, but legal hurdles must be met if circumstances change.
  2. An Uncontested Divorce is NOT the Right Choice for Everyone: Uncontested divorce is an ideal option for spouses who are able to communicate effectively and work together to reach agreements. However, it is not suitable in situations where spouses have opposite positions; where one or both spouses lack information about the other; where communication is poor; or in situations of abuse, coercion, or power imbalances. In such cases, seeking legal counsel is necessary.
  3. An Uncontested Divorce is NOT Synonymous with Unilateral Decision-Making: Uncontested divorce is different from a default divorce proceeding, where one spouse simply does not respond to or participate in the process. Both spouses in an uncontested divorce must actively participate in the decision-making. It is essential for each spouse to voice their concerns, priorities, and preferences openly and honestly. Mutual respect and cooperation are key components of a successful uncontested divorce.
  4. An Uncontested Divorce is NOT Free from Legal Requirements: Even in uncontested divorces, certain legal formalities must be followed to ensure the validity and enforceability of the final agreement. This includes drafting and filing legal documents; obtaining court approval; and adhering to state-specific laws and regulations governing divorce proceedings.

Is Uncontested Divorce Right for Your Situation?

Below are some questions to consider regarding whether an uncontested or collaborative divorce is right for you. It is extremely important to be honest with yourself and your spouse about these topics before making a final determination. More “yes” answers make the success of this approach more likely:

  1. Do we agree that we should divorce? (This answer may not matter in a no-fault jurisdiction.)
  2. Do we both have a good understanding of what the law allows and does not allow if we did not agree about these issues?
  3. (If you have children together) Do we agree on the big decisions for our children’s medical care, education/schools, and religion?
  4. (If you have children together) Do we agree on where our children should live, what the parenting time schedule should be, and on the activities we allow our children to attend?
  5. (If you have children together) Do we agree on financial support for our children such as payment of child support by one parent to the other and/or sharing of expenses for childcare; school lunches and school supplies; field trips; clothing; health/vision/dental insurance; out of pocket payments for braces and glasses/contacts; extracurricular activities; etc.? (Note that even where parents fully agree, the Judge may disallow an agreement and impose the state support guidelines as final orders.)
  6. Do we agree on whether and how to account for any premarital property or debts brought into the marriage by one spouse or the other?
  7. Do we agree on how to value all of our assets?
  8. Do we agree on who should pay each and every debt accrued during the marriage? (Regardless of whose name the debt is under)
  9. Do we agree on whether or not spousal support should be paid? Do we agree on how to account for one spouse not working or earning as much as the other (if this is true)?
  10. Do we trust each other?
  11. Have we been honest with each other and will we continue to do so through this process?
  12. Are both of us committed to ensuring a Judge does not need to make any decisions for us?

Need help with your Nebraska divorce? Contact GordenLaw, LLC

(402)817-1450 or [email protected]