Uncontested? Contested? What's the difference
A divorce is considered uncontested when both spouses completely agree on all the terms of the divorce. Conversely, a divorce is classified as contested when the parties disagree on ANY of the material terms of the divorce. In cases where the spouses are in agreement, a court doesn’t need to become involved in making decisions for the parties. This is why uncontested divorces are faster and less expensive compared to contested divorces.
Uncontested divorces are also popular because, generally, neither party needs to appear in court for the final hearing. However, if the parties have children, they are still required to attend the Child Impact Seminar before their divorce can be finalized.
Why do I need an attorney for an uncontested divorce?
The divorce attorneys at Schoff & Reardon will guide you through the process of filling out the New Hampshire divorce forms while explaining the ramifications of all the decisions that need to be made. The forms can be complex, and even a minor mistake could potentially cost you thousands of dollars in the future. For a relatively small fee, you’ll gain peace of mind from knowing that everything was done correctly.
Our fees start at $750 and can vary depending on several factors. This includes the presence of children, real estate, as well as more intricate assets such as pensions and retirement savings.
Please note that this does not cover the New Hampshire Family Division filing fees, which are currently $250.00 without children and $252.00 with children. These fees are subject to change.
An uncontested divorce can be drafted and filed within a few short days. Our office will begin preparing your documents as soon as possible. You can help speed up the process by doing the following:
- Let your spouse know exactly what is happening and that an attorney will be contacting them.
- Have access to a computer with a printer, scanner.
- Be prepared with all the personal information about you and your spouse.
Once the documents are completed they will be filed with the correct New Hampshire court. Each court is under a different workload, and therefore, processing times may vary. Generally, your divorce will be final within 2-8 weeks.
For a divorce to be considered uncontested, you and your spouse must agree on everything. If you own property, you must agree on exactly how it is to be divided. If you agree to alimony, you must agree on the amount. If you and your spouse reach a disagreement the divorce will become contested and we can no longer work with you.
You must also meet the jurisdictional requirements of filing a divorce in New Hampshire. The requirements of NH RSA 458:5 are as follows:
458:5 Over Parties – Jurisdiction of the parties exists in the following cases only:
I. Where both parties were domiciled in the state when the action was commenced.
II. Where the plaintiff was so domiciled and the defendant was personally served with process within the state.
III. Where the plaintiff was domiciled in the state for one year next preceding the time when the action was commenced.
Where the domiciled plaintiff has filed a petition, the non-domiciled defendant may have affirmative relief upon filing a cross petition.
A person is domiciled in New Hampshire if they have moved to the state with intentions to remain here indefinitely. That is, they don’t have plans to move or return to where they came from.
To summarize the statute, you must be able to satisfy at least one of these requirements, I) both parties must live in NH and call NH their home, II) one party lives in NH, calls NH their home, and serves the other party with divorce papers while that party is in the state of NH, III) one party has lived in NH and has called NH their home for at least 1 year.
Generally, you are not required to appear in court if your divorce is uncontested. New Hampshire courts allow the parties to agree to waive the final hearing. However, a judge can reject this waiver and require that the parties appear. When children are involved you must attend a child impact seminar. Traditionally this was held at court but is now being done by video conference.