WHAT DO LAWYERS MEAN WHEN THEY SAY “UN-CONTESTED DIVORCE”?
You have probably heard that Michigan is a “no fault” State when it comes to Divorce. In general, it means that married couples are free to get a divorce without it being anyone’s fault. It is a good thing because you are not forced to be married to someone you do not want to be married to!
If you are looking for a divorce attorney, you may notice the ads that reference or advertise “un-contested” divorces. These firms may also advertise or quote you very inexpensive retainers and/or fees for your divorce. An un-contested divorce is one where people agree on the terms of what their divorce will look like. This includes things like child custody, parenting time, property settlement including personal property, retirement accounts and the sale of the marital home. If you and your spouse do not agree on anyone of those issues or other issues which require division or addressing in a Judgment of Divorce, you are probably not going to have an un-contested divorce.
You want to be realistic about whether your divorce will be un-contested or contested because it can impact which lawyer you choose for your divorce matter. If you are only hoping that your divorce will be un-contested, you should ask the attorney you are hiring what will happen if the divorce becomes contested. Once you and your spouse start disagreeing over important issues your attorney will be required to do further work for you. This is likely to include going through a process referred to as “discovery” where an attorney can do things like depose your spouse and other important witness(es) or send subpoenas out to obtain information like banking or other information. A contested divorce is also likely to require a mediation. This will involve you and your spouse and your respective attorneys going to see an objective third attorney who will attempt to help you both resolve your case without having to go to trial. You should make sure the attorney you are hiring has experience litigating the issues which can potentially be contested in your divorce.
It is wonderful if you and your spouse agree to the terms of the divorce and you are certain that there is no disagreement between the two of you. If things are contentious or hostile even on one issue, you should be realistic. While you may want to save money at the on-set by hiring an attorney who has quoted you an un-contested fee, you should be concerned about what will happen if your divorce becomes contested. So, it is important to ask the attorney how they will bill you if your divorce becomes contested. You should also ask the attorney if your case becomes contested if they will have the time to commit to your legal issues.
Professionals who work in the family law area encourage people to resolve their problems amicably. However, if you are getting divorced, you should not have blinders on and pretend like things are okay when they are not. Cannon Law PLC handles divorces in Oakland County, Macomb County, Wayne County, Livingston County and Monroe County.
At Cannon Law PLC you are welcome to call for a phone consultation. While many firms tout a free consultation, I have found that my consultations are usually way beyond what people receive in person. If you would like to know whether your divorce looks like a “contested” or “un-contested” divorce, call our office for further information.