What Are the Benefits of Filing Jointly for Divorce?
When you file jointly for divorce, you agree under oath that you and your spouse have amicably decided to end the marriage. Further, you do not dispute the splitting of your assets and liabilities.
Every state has slightly different requirements for filing jointly, but you will probably need to do the following:
- Agree on who gets every asset and liability
- File an uncontested or no-fault divorce
- Waive service of process
- Be prepared to sign a marital settlement agreement
- Have no minor children
Besides meeting the above requirements, you and your spouse will also need to attend a final hearing where a judge reviews your marital settlement agreement. The judge may ask both of you questions about your marriage and your decision to divorce. They want to make sure neither party is being forced to give up any rights they don’t want to give up. Once the judge is satisfied that both you and your spouse are entering into the divorce of your own free will, they will issue a final divorce decree dissolving your marriage.
Amicable: The magic word
We mentioned the word “amicable” above. An amicable divorce is one in which disputes are resolved in a (relatively) friendly manner, essentially avoiding serious disagreements. If you and your spouse can work amicably, it’ll be easier to file jointly.
Amicable divorces generally happen when a couple has few assets and no children and the marriage is of short duration. Both parties must agree on how every item will be distributed.
If you and your spouse can work together to achieve your common goal, it can save you both a lot of headaches, time, and expenses.
An uncontested divorce is exactly what it sounds like: Both spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce case. Neither you nor your spouse contests any part of the divorce, and you both agree that the natural conclusion for your marriage should be divorce.
The process for filing uncontested divorce papers varies by state. To illustrate this, let’s look at uncontested divorce in Utah and Colorado:
Uncontested divorce in Utah
To file an uncontested divorce in a Utah county, you must meet these conditions.
- You or your spouse must meet the residency requirement of living in that Utah county for at least three months leading up to your divorce filing.
- You must file a no-fault divorce petition, pay the $325 filing fee, and serve the petition on your spouse (even if they agree to the divorce).
- You cannot have minor children from the marriage.
- Thirty days must pass between the filing of the petition and your receipt of the final divorce decree.
Once you have received the final decree, your marriage in Utah has officially ended.
Uncontested divorce in Colorado
Colorado has similar requirements for filing an uncontested divorce.
- If your spouse is not signing the petition for dissolution of marriage, you will need to pay a $230 filing fee and serve the petition on your spouse.
- You must sign a separation agreement stating the details of the distribution of all assets and liabilities of your marriage.
- Depending on the circumstances of your marriage, you may need to complete additional divorce forms.
- Unlike Utah, Colorado requires that you and your spouse exchange financial information, even if you’re filing for an uncontested no-fault divorce.
Upon completion of these steps, you will attend a hearing with a judge who grants your final decree, officially ending your marriage.
Guidance for your state
As you can see, Utah and Colorado both allow joint filing for divorce, but the way you get there is slightly different. You need specific information about your state to file for divorce.
Summary dissolution of marriage is a highly simplified way to end your marriage. It’s cheaper and faster than other types, but it doesn’t work for everyone. This type of divorce is best for couples who have no minor children and no major assets or liabilities.
The requirements to qualify for a summary dissolution vary by state (and in fact, not every state offers this type of divorce process). The following are the typical requirements.
- A marriage duration of fewer than five years
- No minor children
- No home ownership or mortgage
- Total value of marital assets under $45,000
- No spousal support/alimony claim from either spouse
If you and your spouse meet your state’s qualifications, you can speed up the process by attaching a separation agreement or marital settlement agreement to your joint petition for divorce. The family court will review all of this information and possibly make a quick decision.
Default divorce differs from uncontested divorce, though the two are related. In its simplest form, a default divorce occurs when you petition for divorce and your spouse never responds.
To complicate matters, there are two types of default divorce: uncontested and true default.
Uncontested default divorce
In an uncontested default divorce, both you and your spouse sign the petition for divorce or the marital settlement agreement. Essentially, you both agree to the divorce, even if your spouse never responds to the divorce petition. Because both spouses participate in the divorce process, a judge is unlikely to take issue with the fact that one spouse never responded to the petition.
True default divorce
A true default divorce is more complicated. When you file a divorce petition, you must serve a copy of that petition on your spouse. Depending on the state where you reside, your spouse has a limited amount of time to respond to that petition, usually around one month from the date you filed. If your spouse does not respond to the divorce petition, you can request the court to enter a default divorce.
Additional paperwork and hearings are required for you to prove you have made every effort to serve your spouse with the divorce petition and they simply haven’t responded. If the judge is convinced, they may enter a divorce decree ending your marriage and taking away your spouse’s right to contest the ruling.
Navigating your unique state requirements and following the right steps to get your preferred outcome can be tricky, even when both of you want a divorce. That’s why it’s crucial you have a guide. Hello Divorce can help you navigate these challenges, getting you to your next stage in life without wasting time.
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