Agreed and Uncontested Divorce
You are actually thinking about getting divorced. You never thought that would happen. This is not what you planned.
You Know What You Don’t Want
You have have heard horror stories about divorce litigation – the financial cost and emotional turmoil. Your goal is not scorched earth – just a fair result that works for you and your kids.
The Next Step
Is an agreed and uncontested divorce possible?
Let’s Start Talking
How It Works
How Much Does An Agreed and Uncontested Divorce Cost?
My base fee for a qualifying Agreed and Uncontested Divorce in Sarasota and Manatee County, Florida is $1,150 plus third party costs. Third party costs are charges that third parties require to complete a divorce – for example the Clerk of Court charges fees at the start and end of a divorce case.
My base fee goes up if your case has added complexity – for example if there are minor children, or if there is real property to be divided, or if you are dividing a retirement account, or if alimony is an issue, or if you are dividing a closely held business.
What is included with my flat fee? Preparation of the following:
- Marital Settlement Agreement, including one set of revisions to the Agreement.
- Parenting Plan if you have children. (Required by Court if you have minor children)
- Child Support Worksheet (Required by Court if you have minor children)
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and supporting documents to file the case.
- Electronically filing your case. (You are responsible for the Clerk’s Filing Fee).
- Preparation and request for entry of Final Judgment with the Court.
- Coordinating with the Court and Clerk to enter the Final Judgment. (The divorce is finalized when the Final Judgment is signed by the Court and filed with the Clerk).
What’s Not Included
My flat fee DOES NOT INCLUDE include the following:
- Third party costs, like the Clerk of Court’s filing fee.
- Preparation of your Financial Affidavit. Both you and your spouse will need to prepare, file, and exchange Financial Affidavits. Many clients are able to complete their own Financial Affidavit. If not, I can refer you to a CPA or divorce financial planner who can help you.
- Preparation, entry, and execution of orders dividing retirement accounts. If your Marital Settlement Agreement requires the division of a retirement account, I will refer you to a lawyer who devotes his practice to preparing and processing such orders.
- Preparation of deeds transferring real property, and any related escrow services. If your Marital Settlement Agreement requires the transfer of real property (and associated escrow services), I will refer you to a lawyer who emphasize real estate transactions.
- Time spent negotiating with your spouse or your spouse’s attorney. (My assumption is that you and your spouse are in agreement on all issues before you hire me).
Do I have an agreed and uncontested divorce?
Here are my requirements to qualify for a flat fee agreed and uncontested divorce:
- You and your spouse have discussed the fact that a divorce is going to happen.
- You and your spouse have mutually disclosed all your assets, debts, income, and expenses.
- You and your spouse have a complete understanding of your respective finances, and have voluntarily exchanged all documents that the other spouse has requested (or needs) to make an informed decision about the terms of the divorce.
- You and your spouse agree to cooperatively exchange the form Financial Affidavits required by the Court to grant a divorce in Florida. This will be the extent of “discovery” and “Mandatory Disclosure” in your case.
- You and your spouse have discussed the following issues, and are in complete agreement about how these issues will be resolved in the divorce:
- The division of assets and debts
- Custody (the Parenting Plan)
- Child Support
- Everything else
- You and your spouse have access to a computer, printer, and separate emails, and will be responsive to my requests to move the case forward.
- These are the requirements to get started. There are other things you will need to do, to complete the divorce. And, of course your spouse ultimately has to agree.
Fee Estimator for uncontested divorce
The fee estimator is just that – an estimate. I will need to learn more about your individual circumstances before quoting a price. The estimator is not intended for parties that own their own business, or high income, or high net worth couples. Such cases usually have added complexity that requires more in depth review.
Speed and Convenience
How fast do you want to complete the divorce process?
A major advantage of hiring an attorney for your Agreed and Uncontested divorce is the speed it takes to finalize the divorce. As your attorney I will:
- Electronically file and serve court documents.
- Know the exact documents that need to be filed to complete your divorce.
- Electronically schedule a final hearing.
- Use “Special Interrogatories” to avoid the need for a final hearing altogether. (i.e. you will not need to personally appear in court – unless the assigned judge requires an appearance).
If you represent yourself, or use a document service, the process will likely take much longer. (Potentially months longer). Why?
- You will need to determine what documents are required to be completed and filed, to start your case.
- You will need to complete the documents and serve and file them. In our Circuit, the Clerk of Court will review your file, and send you updates on what is missing from your file. You will then need to update your file in order for your case to move forward. The notices from the Clerk of Court tend to be handled in batches, so it may be weeks before you are aware that your file has a problem.
- You will need to coordinate and determine how to move your case forward. There is no magic “On” switch to move your case through the system.
- You will need to present a final Marital Settlement Agreement and all supporting documents to the judge. For example, to finalize an uncontested divorce involving minor children you will need to present the following to the Court: Parenting Plan; Financial Affidavits of both parties; a Child Support Worksheet (regardless if child support is requested); Parenting Class Certificates for both parties; and a Martial Settlement Agreement that addresses child support and health insurance fro the children.
Maybe you can do this all on your own, and legal aid of Mansaota provides a monthly class to help self represented folks do just that. However, the process can be slow and frustrating. Why not turn this job over to your lawyer?
Do I need an attorney if I have an uncontested divorce?
Hiring an attorney for your uncontested divorce makes sense if any of the following issues need to be addressed:
- Minor children, custody, and child support
- Assets and debts to be divided
- Retirement accounts
- Alimony issues
- Real property to divide
Unfortunately, I have seen many instances where not hiring an attorney for an uncontested divorce resulted in disaster. Sometimes there is no way to fix these mistakes after the fact. The following are just a few examples of the uncontested divorce disasters that could have been avoided by hiring a lawyer:
- The parties intended that neither would pay the other child support. However, they incorrectly worded their agreement. As a result, years after the divorce was finalized, the Department of Revenue sought two years of back child support.
- The termination date for alimony was incorrectly omitted. As result, the party paying alimony was forced to pay permanent alimony, when he mistakenly believed that alimony would terminate after a year or two.
- The agreement failed to properly account for the federal income tax credit for the parties’ minor children children. As a result, each year one of the parties was unable to claim a credit worth $3,000.
- The parties agreement failed to properly handle the division of the marital home. As a result, the spouse who did not get the residence, was pursued by the bank, and was forced to pay the loan on the house.
- The parties agreed to divide a retirement account in a a way that was not supposed to generate federal income taxes. However, the wording the parties used resulted in a large taxable event – a huge tax hit that could have been avoided.