Some parties are able to sit at the kitchen table, and using the law as their guide to varying degrees, reach an agreement regarding all of the terms of their divorce.
Parties to an uncontested divorce typically seek out an attorney who understands their goal of memorializing their agreement in a sound legal document with little or no substantive changes. The attorney will explain that he or she can only represent one party to the proceeding. The other party will either represent himself or herself and sign a waiver of independent counsel or consult with an attorney in some capacity for purposes of finalizing the agreement.
The attorneys involved will still review the agreement and explain where the terms of it diverge from what a Court would typically do. However, most attorneys will not interfere further if they are satisfied that you understand the information that they have conveyed to you. Still, you can expect that many attorneys will have you sign a document indicating that your legal rights have been adequately explained to you and you are choosing to enter into your agreement despite the explanation.
Assuming that you stick to your agreement, the process for finalizing the dissolution of your marriage should be much less time consuming and costly than a contested divorce. The attorney will draft the Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Stipulated Judgment and Decree (a/k/a, Divorce Decree), for you and your spouse to review. Once the documents have been signed by all involved, they will be submitted to the Court with your filing fee. If no children are involved or both parties are represented by counsel, no hearing will be necessary. Rather, your divorce will be finalized administratively and you will receive notice of your divorce date in the mail. If only 1 party is represented by an attorney and there are children involved, a short, simple hearing (known as a “Default Hearing”) will be required to go over your agreement on the record.