Below is an illustration of how a seemingly simple Uncontested Divorce turned into an expensive and time-consuming contentious Contested Divorce because of one simple issue the couple had not discussed beforehand.
Bob & Brenda Thought They Were Going to Have an Uncontested Divorce
Bob and Brenda have been married for five years. They have two young children together and own a residence in Suffolk County. Both parents work full-time. Bob and Brenda have decided that they no longer want to be married, but they know they want to remain amicable for the sake of their two children. They begin discussing their options pertaining to their divorce and decide they are going to file Uncontested, as they have settled most of the issues of their divorce.
The two go off and retain their own attorneys to ensure that they have each fully protected their interests. The attorneys get in contact and discuss the case and they agree that Bob’s attorney will draft the Stipulation of Settlement for the parties.
They Forgot About Child Support
Upon beginning the drafting process, Bob’s attorney realizes that the two have not discussed the issue of Child Support. The attorneys reach out to their clients and find that they are not in agreement about Child Support.
Bob and Brenda have decided that they will have joint physical custody, with Bob having the kids for five days and Brenda having the kids the following five days. They would continue on this schedule, swapping every five days, until it was no longer practicable for the children.
Both Bob and Brenda were under the impression that Child Support would not be exchanged, as they were sharing Custody. This is a common misconception.
Joint Physical Custody Does Not Discount Child Support
For purposes of determining Child Support when there is joint physical custody, the spouse earning the lower income will be considered the custodial parent. The spouse earning the higher income is considered the non-custodial parent and the parent obligated to pay child support to the other. In this case, Brenda is the higher earning spouse and thus is considered the non-custodial parent. Accordingly, she should be responsible for Child Support payments made to Bob.
The Couple Each Dig In
After discussing this with their attorneys, Brenda is adamant that she not pay Child Support, as she believes that splitting custody should not mean she has to pay Bob. Bob, on the other hand, is adamant that he receives Child Support from Brenda. The attorneys have attempted to reach an agreement, but to no avail. Neither will budge as both believe they are in the right.
Uncontested Morphs Into Contested
The parties’ Uncontested Divorce is now morphing into a Contested Divorce. Bob and Brenda cannot reach an agreement on the issue. Their disagreement and frustration has now started to spread to other issues of their divorce.
Now that they are disagreeing on multiple issues and will not settle them, their matter is considered to be a Contested Divorce and this is dramatically changing their legal fee structure. They will no longer be charged a flat fee and will be billed at an hourly rate while the attorneys work on their now Contested Divorce. If the parties cannot find a way to settle, they will have to go to trial and have the court decide on their case.
How Cost-Effective Your Divorce Will Be Is Up To You
How quickly and cost-effective your divorce is settled is entirely up to you and your spouse. If Bob and Brenda had been able to come to an agreement on the matter of Child Support, their divorce could have remained Uncontested. They would have been able to save themselves thousands of dollars in legal fees. However, because of the discord between them, they ended up spending much more time and money than they originally wanted.
This could have been avoided, their legal fees much less and the stress to them and their children reduced if Bob and Brenda had been a little more flexible and/or had utilized an alternative dispute resolution method like Divorce Mediation or Contested Divorce.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Uncontested Divorce
Ensure your rights are protected and you have covered all the issues in your Uncontested Divorce in the most cost-effective, yet comprehensive manner. Contact the experienced Long Island Divorce and Family Law attorneys at Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., P.C. for your free consultation at 631-923-1910 today.
How quickly and cost-effective your divorce is settled is entirely up to you and your spouse. If Bob and Brenda had been able to come to an agreement on the matter of Child Support, their divorce could have remained Uncontested. They would have been able to save themselves thousands of dollars in legal fees. However, because of the discord between them, they ended up spending much more time and money than they originally wanted. This could have been avoided, their legal fees much less and the stress to them and their children reduced if Bob and Brenda had been a little more flexible and/or had utilized an alternative dispute resolution method like Divorce Mediation or Contested Divorce.
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