Do you and your spouse want to avoid going to court and fighting over the divorce? In California, if both parties agree on how to dissolve their marriage, it is called an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce means that neither spouse is contesting the terms of the divorce and that they have an agreement on how to end their marriage and a Los Angeles uncontested divorce lawyer can help you get divorced as smoothly as possible.
Why consider an uncontested divorce? Getting divorced can bring out a lot of conflicting emotions during the process. And emotions can lead to a lot of unnecessary fights in a divorce proceeding, leading to pain for both spouses and an expensive legal bill. If both spouses work together and reach an agreement on things such as property division, child and spousal support, custody and visitation, then they may never have to appear in court during their divorce case. An amicable agreement between parties also helps avoid the uncertainty of having a Judge make decisions regarding the dissolution of your marriage and can help to keep the costs divorce at a minimum. Our uncontested divorce fees are usually a set FLAT FEE…and very affordable compared to a regular contest divorce.
California is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that only one person needs to want the divorce for it to proceed in court and be granted by a Judge. If your spouse wants to divorce you, they do not need your consent to get a final divorce judgment. For that reason, it makes more sense to work together and have a final result that works for all parties.
A divorce is started in California by one spouse filing a Petition and Summons with the appropriate court, and serving it on the other spouse. One of the parties has to have been a resident of California for at least six months at the time the Petition is filed, and a resident of the county where the case is going to be filed for at least three months prior to filing the divorce Petition.
In certain situations, a short-term marriage where there are no children and not a lot of debt or any real estate, the parties may qualify for what is called in California a Summary Dissolution. This requires both parties to sign a petition together, and is a simpler process toward getting an uncontested divorce.
In certain counties in California, such as Los Angeles County, a Cover Sheet may also need to be filed with the divorce Petition. If minor children are involved with the divorce, then a form called a UCCJEA Declaration is also required to establish California’s jurisdiction to decide custody and visitation matters. Certain counties may have other local forms, so make sure you are aware of what your local county requires.
Once a spouse has been served with the Petition, they have thirty days to file a Response to the divorce Petition. If they do not file a Response, then the other spouse can request a Default to be entered and the matter can proceed as a Default divorce. Sometimes, when the parties have an agreement, they will agree to proceed as a Default divorce so the second spouse does not have to pay the filing fee for the Response, and then attach their agreement to the Default Judgment. This is called a “quasi-default” divorce, since both parties are involved in the process, but only one submits paperwork to the court.
If the second spouse files a Response, then both parties are required by law to exchange and disclose financial information regarding income, expenses, assets, and debts, and file a declaration with the court that they have exchanged the required information. The parties are also required to do a final exchange of such information near the end of the divorce process, however they can waive in writing the final disclosures.
The next step is for the parties to come to an agreement, and put it down in writing. The parties can either use a Marital Settlement Agreement or a Stipulated Judgment. Either document will state what the parties agreement is, how property will be divided, what support will be ordered, what custody and visitation of the children shall be, and any other issue that needs to be resolved between the parties. The parties’ attorneys or a Mediator can help the parties reach that agreement and prepare the Marital Settlement Agreement of the Stipulated Judgment. The parties reaching this agreement is what makes this an uncontested divorce, since they settle all the issues and nothing has to be contested before a Judge.
To finalize the divorce Judgment, the Marital Settlement Agreement of Stipulated Judgment is attached to the Judgment paperwork, and the parties can either request an uncontested hearing before a Judge to have their agreement presented to the Court and signed off on by the Judge, or the spouse who filed the Petition can file a Declaration for an Uncontested Dissolution, with the divorce Judgment being mailed out to both parties without either of them having to appear in court.
California family law requires a six-month waiting period before a divorce can be finalized. The six months is from the time the other spouse was served with the divorce paperwork.
An uncontested divorce can be a less stressful way to dissolve your marriage, amicably split your property, determine custody/visitation without dragging your children into a custody dispute, and reach an agreement on support payments that both spouses are comfortable with. Although an uncontested divorce is a simpler alternative to a regular contested divorce, some couples may qualify for a summary dissoultion.
If you are interested in filing for divorce, contact a Burbank Divorce Attorney. We offer free consultations for most new divorce cases. Our divorce attorneys serve all of Los Angeles County. Our main office is in Burbank but we can also meet our clients at our branch offices in Pasadena, Valencia (Santa Clarita) and Torrance.