If you and your spouse have decided to end your marital relationship, there are two basic types of divorce to consider: contested and uncontested. You would file for a contested divorce if you and your spouse do not agree on all major issues, such as child custody, alimony and distribution of assets. Even in a contested divorce, a couple may settle some issues on their own. The judge will make the decisions on any matters unresolved by the spouses.
The second option, filing an uncontested divorce, is far less time-consuming and expensive. If you and your spouse are able to work out all the details yourselves, then you can file this type of divorce. There are two ways to go about it.
Both spouses file a joint petition
When you and your spouse both agree on every aspect of the divorce, the easiest plan of action is to file a joint petition for dissolution of marriage. There cannot be disagreement on even a single issue or the divorce is no longer uncontested.
This is where mediation may salvage your attempt at an uncontested divorce. If a neutral third party mediator skilled in dispute resolution methods can help you to resolve the points where you disagree, the uncontested divorce may move forward.
One spouse files a complaint
When one spouse is hesitant to take action, the other can simply go ahead and file the complaint. If you file for divorce, your spouse has 20 days to file an answer. He or she is likely to accept the fact that the divorce is moving forward at this point. Then, the two of you can get together to begin working out your marital settlement.
However, keep in mind that if your spouse fails to file an answer within 20 days (essentially ignoring the petition), then you may get a default judgment of dissolution of marriage.