If you contact a family law attorney seeking information on obtaining a divorce, one of the preliminary questions you will be asked is whether you and your spouse have already reached some sort of agreement regarding the terms of your divorce. Based on your response to that question, your attorney will then provide the relevant legal advice to you in terms of the relative process, timeframe, and costs.
Though many divorces are, or ultimately end up being, contested divorces, some parties are able to agree on how they wish to divide up their assets, liabilities, accounts, and so forth. This situation is referred to as an uncontested divorce. Compared to a more common contested divorce, the entire process for an uncontested matter is much simpler, faster, more amicable, and relatively straightforward. In an uncontested situation, you would inform your attorney of how everything is to be split between you and your spouse based on what the two of you have already agreed to and your attorney would subsequently prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement memorializing those agreed-upon terms.
Another major difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce is that your spouse does not necessarily need his or her own attorney, though your spouse certainly has the right to obtain counsel. In many uncontested proceedings, the spouse with the attorney will send to the other spouse the proposed Marital Settlement Agreement for his or her review, to ensure that the provisions therein reflect what the parties had already agreed to. If the agreement is acceptable to the other spouse, both parties would simply execute the agreement. The attorney for you would then obtain a prove-up date for the parties to appear before the court to finalize the divorce. It is important to note, however, that though there is an attorney in this situation, the attorney would only represent you, the petitioning spouse, and not your spouse. That means that though your attorney can prepare the required paperwork, draft the settlement agreement, and even contact your spouse, your attorney would only represent you and cannot provide legal advice to your spouse.