In California, a divorce cannot be finalized until the divorcing spouses agree on all terms of the divorce, including important issues like division of property, payment of debts, spousal support, and if they have children together, child custody and child support. Divorces in California can be contested or uncontested and the type of divorce that occurs can impact how much the divorce costs and how long the process takes. An uncontested divorce is a divorce case in which the divorcing spouses agree to cooperate with regard to the divorce process and any issues or matters they may encounter in ending their marriage. Navigating an uncontested divorce in California can still be difficult though, even if the divorcing spouses appear to agree on every issue. For this reason, it is always a good idea to consult an experienced divorce lawyer to find out about your options and your rights during all stages of the divorce process. Contact our California divorce attorneys at (619) Divorce today for a free uncontested divorce consultation.
Table of Contents Uncontested Divorce Process
Experienced Uncontested Divorce Lawyer in California
When negotiating a divorce, there is a great deal at stake, especially if you and your spouse have children, shared property or significant assets or debts, and whether the divorce is contested or uncontested can have a considerable impact on the outcome. There are many advantages to an uncontested divorce compared to a contested divorce. For one, contested divorces tend to be more heated and combative and can result in feelings of bitterness and resentment that can last for years to come. Furthermore, in a contested divorce, any issue the couple is unable to agree on is left up to the judge to decide, which can result in one or both spouses feeling like they lost or failed. Whether your California divorce is contested or uncontested, it is a good idea to protect your rights and your best interests by hiring an experienced California divorce lawyer to represent your case. There are many critical issues that can arise during a divorce case and you want to make sure you are prepared for them all ahead of time.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
After a divorce petition is filed with the court, the other spouse is “served” with the petition and is required to respond to the petition within 30 days of being served. Under California law, if your spouse files a petition for divorce and you do not respond to the petition, or if you file a response but reach an agreement with your spouse on the terms of the divorce, your case will be considered a default or uncontested divorce case. In a true default case, by not responding to the petition for divorce, you are effectively forfeiting your right to have any say in your divorce case. Most people want to have a say in the decisions that are made in their divorce, which is why they choose to respond to the divorce petition, to let the court know their position in the divorce case. But just because each spouse wants to have his or her say in the divorce doesn’t necessarily mean the divorce case will end up being contentious. Many divorcing spouses find that they can agree on some, most or all of the issues that come up in their divorce, either right away or after taking some time to consider the alternative, in which case the divorce is considered uncontested.
What Issues Come into Play in an Uncontested Divorce?
In an uncontested divorce, the divorcing spouses can both agree to end their marriage and can also come to an agreement on how to handle certain important issues that will affect them both, such as:
- Property division
- Division of assets and debts
- Spousal support
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, you and your spouse may be able to agree on all of these issues, or only some of them. Even if you reach an agreement on all issues, it is important to consult a reputable California divorce lawyer before committing to any agreement in your divorce. Our experienced divorce lawyers can review the agreement and ensure that it is fair and equitable and that you understand everything you are agreeing to. You want to make sure the agreement is in your best interest and in the best interest of your children, if you and your spouse have children together, and our legal team can do that for you.
The Uncontested Divorce Process
Under California law, either spouse in a marriage can ask the court to end their legal relationship. So long as one person wants to end the marriage, the court has the power to do so, even if the other spouse does not want to get a divorce. If your spouse files a petition for divorce in California, you have a couple of different options in terms of your response and the divorce process for your specific case can vary depending on which route you take.
Default Case with Written Agreement
If you don’t file a response to the petition for divorce but you and your spouse have an agreement about your divorce and any issues, such as child custody, property division and spousal support, the divorce case is considered a “default case with written agreement.” In this situation, you and your spouse will be required to write up your agreement, get the agreement notarized, fill out the necessary court forms and complete the final declaration of disclosure in order for your divorce to be finalized. The agreement should detail how you and your spouse plan to divide your property and debts, whether either spouse will pay the other spousal support, and if you have children together, what child support, child custody and visitation arrangements you plan to have in place.
If you do file a response to the petition for divorce and you and your spouse have an agreement, your case is considered an uncontested divorce. In this situation, you and your spouse will be required to write up the agreement, which is also called a “stipulated judgment,” and get it notarized. Similar to the default case with written agreement, the agreement should include details about how you and your spouse plant to divide your property and debts, whether either spouse will pay the other spousal support, and if you have children together, how the issues of child support, child custody and visitation will be handled. You will also have to fill out the necessary court forms and complete the final declaration of disclosure so your divorce can be finalized.
Unsure You Can Reach an Agreement?
Even if you aren’t sure whether you and your spouse will be able to reach an agreement with regard to child custody, child support, spousal support and/or dividing your property, assets and debts, filing a response to the petition for divorce within the required time frame (30 days) ensures that you have a say in how your divorce case proceeds. Once you have filed a response, you and your spouse can try to work on reaching a resolution afterward. If you file a response to the petition for divorce and you disagree with some or all of the things your spouse is asking for, the case becomes a contested divorce case. Generally speaking, contested divorces tend to be more expensive and time-consuming than uncontested divorces and they can also be significantly more stressful and emotionally taxing. If you can work out some of the more important issues in your divorce, you and your spouse have the option of writing up an agreement on those specific issues and leaving the other issues up to a judge to decide.
How a Skilled Uncontested Divorce Lawyer Can Help
The process of ending a marriage can be difficult and divisive, whether the marriage lasted five years or 50 years. In many divorce cases in California, divorcing spouses don’t end their relationship on good terms and end up fighting each other to the bitter end. In other cases, the spouses are able to reach a resolution on their own without having to bring their case to court. In California, even if your divorce case starts out contested, it can become uncontested if you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement on any controversial issues through mediation, negotiation or some other dispute resolution process. The opposite is also true: what starts out as an uncontested divorce can quickly become contested, if you or your spouse suddenly decide that the agreement you have written up isn’t fair. Whatever the circumstances of your divorce case, it is infinitely advantageous to have a knowledgeable California divorce lawyer on your side who understands the law and can help you navigate the ins and outs of the California divorce process.
Contact Our California Uncontested Divorce Lawyers
If you and your spouse are considering getting a divorce in California and you can come to an equitable agreement about key issues like property division, child custody and spousal support, you can save yourselves a great deal of time and money, not to mention the emotional stress of fighting over these issues in court. Even if your divorce ends up being contested – especially if it ends up being contested – our knowledgeable divorce lawyers will do everything in their power to ensure that your rights are protected and your best interests are being served at every stage. At (619) Divorce, our team of divorce lawyers has represented clients in their contested and uncontested divorce cases for more than 10 years and we know how stressful and time-consuming getting a divorce can be. Contact our law firm today to find out how we can help you in your California divorce.