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What To Expect at an Uncontested Divorce Hearing

By Divorce.com staff
Updated Oct 04, 2022

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What To Expect at an Uncontested Divorce Hearing

If you and your spouse agree on all aspects of your divorce, the road ahead is much easier than it would be if there were friction between the two of you. An uncontested divorce eliminates much of the stress, time, and debt associated with a complicated divorce.

If you have an uncontested divorce hearing coming up, there’s nothing to worry about. Here’s how to prepare before you appear in court.

What To Expect at an Uncontested Divorce Hearing

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is a divorce where both partners agree on the terms. This could be due to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that decided an outcome before both partners decided to divorce. It could also be the result of a couple on good terms with consistent communication who have mutually decided to amicably divorce.

Uncontested divorces are the gentlest form of divorce. There’s usually far less stress involved, and couples don’t need to spend thousands on lawyers to advocate for their best interest. In most cases, couples can successfully complete all of the relevant paperwork for an uncontested divorce on their own.

How Is a Contested Divorce Different From an Uncontested Divorce?

When partners can’t agree on a divorce settlement, the divorce becomes a contested divorce. Contested divorces take place through the court system. Both partners have lawyers, and their lawyers work to argue their position in front of a judge. The judge will have the final say in the divorce settlement.

Contested divorces can take as long as two years to complete. Couples don’t have any control over the final outcome of their divorce. This process can be emotionally and financially taxing for both parties, but it’s necessary in some cases. It’s best to use contested divorce as a last resort or when it’s the only available option.

What Are the Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce?

Uncontested divorces are less expensive and much quicker than contested divorces. Couples who need to co-parent often find that uncontested divorces minimize the stress levels their children might face as a result of the divorce process.

Uncontested divorces are the most empowering form of divorce. You and your partner decide how you want your divorce to go. As long as the judge finds that your agreement is fair and believes that you’re both genuinely satisfied with your divorce settlement, you’ll have the final say.

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What Is an Uncontested Divorce Hearing?

An uncontested divorce hearing is the court’s way of verifying that the information in your uncontested divorce paperwork is factual and accurate.

An uncontested divorce hearing is very simple. It only takes a few minutes to walk through the process. If everything you’ve provided the court is accurate and you were honest throughout the process, you shouldn’t run into any issues.

Pre-Hearing Steps To Take

Before you attend your uncontested divorce hearing, take another look at your settlement agreement. Have a discussion with your partner. If you want to hire a lawyer, you can. You may not need a lawyer if you’re truly satisfied with every aspect of your agreement.

What Happens at an Uncontested Divorce Hearing?

Most of what happens at an uncontested divorce hearing is a judge asking you and your partner questions. These questions usually come directly from the textbook. Unless there’s something extremely unusual about your settlement agreement, they’ll usually be simple identity verification and consent confirmation questions.

What To Bring to an Uncontested Divorce Hearing

Every court will have different requirements for what you need to bring to an uncontested divorce hearing. It helps to check with your local court a few weeks before your hearing to give yourself enough time to get organized. Bring what they ask you to bring.

You’ll likely need a valid form of identification, like a driver’s license. The court may also want an original or certified copy of your marriage license.

Who Will Be at the Uncontested Divorce Hearing?

You, your spouse, and the judge will be at the uncontested divorce hearing. If you or your spouse choose to hire a lawyer, the lawyers will also be present. In some cases, your lawyer can attend the hearing on your behalf.

What Kind of Questions Are Asked at an Uncontested Divorce Hearing?

Every state has different questions that a judge will ask at an uncontested divorce hearing. Some questions will be specific to the information you provided or details you included in your divorce agreement. Some questions will be general verification questions. You may be able to find sample questions used in your state through a local legal resource website.

Here are some common questions you may be asked:

  • How long have you been separated from your spouse?
  • Why do you believe your marriage cannot be reconciled?
  • Are you satisfied with the information and disclosures your partner provided?
  • Was the information you provided truthful to the best of your knowledge?
  • Did you review and sign the settlement agreement?
  • How do you intend to co-parent your children?
  • Do you want to change your name back to your former name?

The judge doesn’t necessarily want long-form answers. Some questions, like questions regarding why you want to get divorced, are loaded. They’re painful questions that often have lengthy and complicated answers.

You can simply answer “we have irreconcilable differences” or “we live incompatible lifestyles.” You don’t need to deliver an emotionally charged autobiography about things you’d prefer not to re-hash.

How Long Will an Uncontested Divorce Hearing Take?

Uncontested divorce hearings are usually very short. You’re sworn in, you answer a few questions, and then you’re done. They’re only longer if the judge has highly specific questions about unusual aspects of your settlement. This rarely happens. You won’t spend the whole day in court.

How Much Will an Uncontested Divorce Hearing Cost?

The uncontested divorce hearing itself won’t cost you anything. You only need to pay to file your divorce. The entire cost of an uncontested divorce is usually less than $1,000 if you complete and file the paperwork yourself. If you hire a lawyer to prepare your paperwork and attend court with you, the cost can easily exceed $2,500.

Post-Hearing Steps To Take

If the judge needs more information from you, you’ll need to follow the court’s instructions. Most of the time, the judge won’t need anything else from you. The court will have enough information to finalize the divorce after your hearing.

The most important post-hearing steps you take are steps towards rebuilding your life after your divorce. If you changed your name, you’ll need to update your identification and your name on all of your accounts. It’s important to notify credit bureaus and financial institutions of your name change to avoid your transactions being erroneously flagged as fraudulent.

You need to begin to comply with the terms of your divorce settlement. Your child custody agreement will become active, as will any obligations you have to pay or receive child support or spousal support.

How Long Does It Take To Finalize an Uncontested Divorce?

If the judge is satisfied at the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will grant the divorce and sign the divorce decree. Once you’ve been granted the divorce decree, your divorce is finalized.

Getting to that point can take less than two months from the time you file the paperwork. Uncontested divorces are much quicker than contested divorces because there are no issues to settle in court before the divorce can be finalized.

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