Regardless of whether you have been married a year or a decade, divorce is always a painful decision. According to a US Census Bureau study, Louisiana divorce rates are nearly 50 percent of overall marriage rates. If we're honest about it, not all divorces are contentious. Sometimes marriage simply does not work out and parties agree to go their separate ways. In many of these cases, the divorce may be considered uncontested because the parties mutually agree it is best for them.
Defining an uncontested divorce
While most people have heard horror stories about property divisions, child custody and alimony payments, not all divorces end this way. Louisiana is a community property state, meaning that almost all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are the responsibility of both spouses even after a divorce. The law provides a mechanism to ask the court to decide what is a community asset or debt, and how that asset or debt should be divided with the ultimate goal that each spouse ends up with the same "net" amount of assets and debts. The division of assets and debts should be considered more of a basic mathematical equation than an emotional consideration. When the divorce is uncontested, the parties typically have agreed on the following issues:
- Property division - whether it is your family home, a community owned business, vehicles or other personal property, the two parties have materially agreed on who will take which property:
- Division of debts - since debts of the marriage are the responsibility of both parties, division of debts is critical. For most uncontested divorces, the parties have agreed who will be responsible for each specific debt. When one party is taking more assets, that party will generally take responsibility for more debt in order to equalize the division. The result should be an equal net amount of assets and debts for each party. There can be some math here so it is not uncommon for the parties' respective attorneys to assist them in clarifying what is their fair share;
- Child custody - custody of children is often a sore point in a divorce. However, when the parents agree (which is generally better for the children) it can make the divorce process far less contentious;
- Alimony/Spousal Support - spouses often can agree on support payments and the length of time they will occur. This makes the divorce process far less problematic and means a far more pleasant relationship for both parties.
Even if you and your spouse agree on all material issues, it is important to contact a Baton Rouge family law attorney to review any agreement and draft it in the proper form to ensure its enforceability. This is one way to ensure there are no problems that arise later. If you and your spouse have materially agreed to most big issues facing you during your divorce, contact Beau Layfield to have your agreement reviewed. Since we focus a significant portion of our practice on family law, we can help you make sure your agreement covers all the relevant problems associated with division of property, child visitation and custody and other issues that face couples who are going through an uncontested divorce.