An uncontested divorce in Missouri is a divorce where both the Husband and the Wife are in complete agreement with all terms of the divorce before the case is filed. In almost all cases, if the case can be resolved as an uncontested matter, there will be substantial savings of both time and money, and perhaps most importantly, the parties will not be involved in a drawn out court battle that can have a negative effect on the children for years to come.
Most Missouri divorce attorneys will consider a case uncontested if there is only one attorney involved. It is important to note that an attorney can only represent one party in any divorce case. So, for an uncontested case, one party will be represented by an attorney, and the other party will be unrepresented, or pro se. If each party has their own attorney, most attorneys will consider the case to be contested, and will charge higher fees. It is possible, however, for one party to have an attorney working in a limited capacity, such as for document review, and the case will still be considered uncontested. While most contested cases end up being settled before trial, and thus become uncontested, for purposes of time and cost of the case, a divorce case that is “uncontested” is settled prior to filing.
In order for the case to be uncontested, the parties to the case must have reached an agreement on all of the following:
- Division of property: including the home, vehicles, retirement plans, household and personal goods, debts, and any other property matters;
- Parenting plan issues: including who is custodial parent, residential schedule, holiday schedule, joint or sole legal and physical custody, guidelines for physical custody, restrictions or conditions of parenting time
- Child Support: Including monthly amount per form 14 vs. agreed upon amount, payment of health insurance premiums, non-covered medical care, educational expenses, and child care costs;
- Spousal support (a.k.a. maintenance or alimony) if applicable;
- Payment of attorney fees and costs of the case;
Because any one of the above issues can have a huge effect on the case and your rights under the law, it is well worth the money to hire a competent Missouri uncontested divorce attorney, and not to try to do it on your own. Many counties in Missouri will even allow the uncontested case to be submitted by affidavit, meaning without court date, as long as there is an attorney involved.