As we’ve stressed in previous blogs, divorce litigation is as financially painful as it is emotionally stressful. Otherwise known as a contested divorce, it calls for consistent legal representation and courtroom appearances – which can drain your wallet while demanding loads of time. However, alongside the other alternative divorce solutions we’ve mentioned, there’s another popular route to finalization: an uncontested divorce.
An uncontested divorce is faster and cheaper than traditional divorce litigation, with no need for a judge and a trial, making it a common option for California divorces. But you’ll have to agree with your spouse on all marital issues, which a skilled Orange County divorce mediator can help out with. Read on for an understanding of the uncontested divorce process in California, and reach out to our offices to reach the necessary agreements.
Alternative Divorce Solutions: Uncontested Divorce
Exploring Uncontested Divorce in California
Among the alternative divorce solutions available to you, an uncontested divorce is among the most beneficial. In California, an uncontested divorce is just as it sounds: a divorce without contest. If two spouses have agreed to divorce and have reached a settlement for all relevant marital issues, an uncontested divorce is due. Most divorce cases in California are resolved in this way, as coming to an early agreement nixes the need for a judge to make final orders.
Perhaps the most notable benefit to an uncontested divorce is the significant cut in costs when compared to a contested divorce. Since there are no issues to litigate or mediate, there’s less of a need for numerous court appearances, therefore dropping much of your legal fees. Still, there’s a certain process to follow when filing for an uncontested divorce.
Filing the Paperwork
Now that your stipulated judgment is settled, it’s time to file the initial divorce petition with the court. You’ll have to pay a filing fee, which is $435 – but if you can’t afford to pay, you can ask the court to waive your court fees by submitting a waiver. Once your filing fees and paperwork have been settled and filed, you’ll have to serve your spouse with copies of the divorce via a third party. The respondent is then required to respond to your divorce petition within 30 days.
If your spouse responds, your case will continue as an uncontested case. Your judge will likely approve your agreement and sign your judgment, and if there are any issues with your paperwork, the judge will request that you correct it. You’ll then have to wait six months before your divorce is finalized, which is standard in California.
If your spouse fails to respond within 30 days after your filing, you can submit forms to receive a dissolution by default. The judge will likely approve your agreement since you and your spouse have already settled on a stipulated judgment. Still, your divorce won’t finalize until six months after the petition was served to its respondent.
The Stipulated Judgment
To close out the uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will have to draft a written marital settlement agreement alongside a trusted divorce attorney. These documents are prepared at the end of the case, after a petition and response are filed and final disclosures are exchanged. Otherwise known as a “stipulated judgment,” this document references all of the issues within your divorce, such as:
- Property and debt division,
- Alimony amounts and timelines,
- Details regarding child custody and support.
It’s important to note that your child support agreement should be in line with California child support guidelines to avoid problems down the line. And if you can’t seem to settle on a stipulated judgment, consider reaching out to a local divorce mediator for assistance.
Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce
In order to execute an uncontested divorce in California, there are a few standards that must be met. Here’s the list of criteria according to Family Code Section 2320:
- One of the spouses must’ve lived in California for the previous six months, and for three months in the county where the divorce case is filed,
- Each spouse must be available and willing to sign all of the necessary paperwork,
- Each spouse must agree on the settlement of all issues, from division of property and alimony to child support and custody.
Mediate Towards an Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is one of many alternative divorce solutions with a cost and time-saving nature, though all marital conflicts need to be tended to. Without smoothing out all aspects of your property division, alimony, child support, and custody, your case will likely reflect the costs of a contested divorce. But through mediation, you and your spouse can rightfully settle on a stipulated judgment that benefits the both of you. Contact an Orange County divorce mediator to settle on a marital settlement agreement and achieve your uncontested divorce in record time.
Consider Alternative Divorce Solutions with an Orange County Divorce Mediator
Divorce is an emotional journey to endure. On top of the bitterness and anger which often result from a formal separation, the subsequent legal battles tend to make the whole process even more painful. At the Law Offices of Jennifer Owens, we revel in the power of choice. When spouses face divorce, they’re presented with a slew of decisions with a handful of potential outcomes. Our attorneys are believers in the best possible outcome, where a former couple chooses peace over destruction, so that they can finally move onto their next chapter. We can help with that. No matter your desired path – mediation, a negotiated settlement, or even litigation – The Law Offices of Jennifer Owens will achieve the best possible outcome by reaching a settlement that keeps all involved parties in mind. Visit our website to review our family law services or contact us online for a free consultation.