Over 90% of divorces ends up with both parties agreeing to sign a Separation Agreement and agreeing to jointly file for divorce. That means that over 90% of divorces ends up being uncontested divorces. Yet, 90% of divorces do not start off as uncontested divorces. There are many reason for this but a major reason, I suspect, has to do with the attorneys involved.
I’ve noticed that the first thing most divorce attorneys do when a new client gets retained is start to prepare a Complaint for Divorce. A Complaint for Divorce starts the process of a contested divorce (as oppose to a Joint Petition for Divorce that starts the process of an uncontested divorce). There could be many reasons why a divorce attorney might choose to initiate a contested divorce. It might be because after their consultation with the client, they realize that the other party to the marriage would never agree to come in and sign a Joint Petition and divorce together. Maybe because they want the element of surprise by filing for divorce first. Or it could be because divorce attorneys make more money litigating contested divorces because most charge by the hour (I do not).
When practicing divorce law, it’s best to remember:
- the client’s best interest comes first, not the law firm’s bottom line
- an uncontested divorce is cheaper, quicker and less disruptive to the client and family
- if there are children, you want the client to know that they are divorcing their spouse, not the family. They will always be a family, even after the divorce
Keeping these things in mind, the right way to file for divorce is first trying to get the parties to come to an agreement and see if there’s a way to file a Joint Petition for Divorce. Even if it doesn’t seem possible at first or the client doesn’t want to – it is the job of the attorney to find a way and to counsel the client in what’s best. In my practice, over 90% of my divorce filings are Joint Petitions for Divorce (uncontested). They don’t all come to me uncontested, but taking a bit of time and effort, it’s surprising how couples can come together and agree to disagree.