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Is uncontested divorce wise when significant assets are at stake?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2021 | Property Division

In New York, there are many people who have significant assets and are moving forward with a divorce. This is often viewed as the foundation for dispute with a long-term back and forth as both sides battle over various properties. This can include a business, real estate, investments, bank accounts, automobiles, collectibles and more. It does not take much effort to find examples of these high-end divorces and to see how they can decline into outright acrimony. However, there are some cases in which the parties move forward with an uncontested divorce.

Couples generally do this if they believe the case will not be rife with discord and they are confident that they will reach an agreement on how to divide assets and move forward. Still, in some cases, people start out thinking they can come to reasonable solutions only to find that there is underlying tension that rapidly escalates. Thinking about whether a case might be more difficult that it initially appears will serve as a guideline when deciding if an uncontested divorce is the right strategy.

Uncontested divorce and when it might be effective

As an example of a high-asset divorce that is using the uncontested divorce process, the real estate developer Stephen Ross – who also owns the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins – is getting divorced from his wife. Surprisingly, Mrs. Ross filed the case in Manhattan and categorized it as uncontested. The type of filing is unusual in such a major case, but it is indicative that she is safe in the belief that there will not be an extended court case fighting over their fortune. Mr. Ross is reportedly worth more than $8 billion. For those who are weighing their options in a high-asset case, there are basics to assess when deciding if it should be uncontested or contested.

Despite the immediate perception that every divorce will be problematic, some couples just want to part ways and are not disagreeing over how to split assets, how much spousal support will be paid, what the child custody situation will be and more. An uncontested divorce can be used if the other party agrees with it or does not appear as part of the action. In some cases, people might start out thinking the case will be smooth until they dig through their assets and analyze the situation. Some might file for an uncontested divorce only to see the spouse contest the case.

Another challenge in an uncontested divorce filing is that the parties might not think they need to have professional guidance with navigating this difficult terrain. This frequently leads to mistakes that are hard to undo once the case is underway. For example, there might be a business that one spouse had at the start of the marriage and grew substantially in value during the marriage. The spouse who was a stay at home parent or did not actively participate in the business might still have the right to receive a portion of it because of various contributions. Perhaps taking care of the home freed the business owning spouse to aggressively expand. There might be assets that are hidden and deeper dissection is required to find them and get a fair accounting.

Thinking about circumstances is key before filing for uncontested divorce

In any high-asset divorce, there is a temptation to try and get it over with as quickly as possible. That is especially true when there is an agreement to part ways and the issues in the case are relatively settled. No matter what, it is always useful to have experienced assistance to provide protection. There still might be an avenue to have an uncontested divorce, but it will be done after scrutinizing the case to make sure there is a fair resolution.