If parties are able to communicate with each other, either alone or through attorneys, it is a good idea to pursue the case as possibly uncontested, at least until it becomes obvious that court intervention is going to be necessary. Experienced attorneys can often guide clients through the maze of emotionally charged issues involved in a family law case and help the parties understand their respective rights and obligation and reach a settlement. This is the most cost-effective way to begin and should not be abandoned unless it is clearly not working.
Typically an uncontested case involves the following steps. Although it is possible to following them pro se, i.e. without an attorney, given the ramifications of having an agreement become a court order and therefore binding on the parties, experienced legal advice should be obtained as early as possible in the process.
1. Gathering complete and accurate information relevant to the financial issues involved in the case, including without limitation a complete list of income, deductions, and expenses as well as, in divorce cases, assets and liabilities; if there will be any question about any of this information, documentation verifying it should be obtained. Information and documentation about any non-financial issues which will not readily be resolved must also be gathered.
2. Exchanging information and documentation, as well as financial statements conforming to of court rules.
3. Negotiating any issues not already resolved.
4. Preparing and filing the documents required by the court, including without limitation a complaint, agreement, and supporting documentation.
5. Presenting the agreement to a court for approval and entry as an enforceable judgment.