Skip to content

How to Get an Uncontested Divorce: California Checklist

In California, if you are thinking of getting a divorce (known as a “dissolution of marriage”), then you need to consider the advantages of an “uncontested divorce.” California permits spouses who basically agree on the terms of the divorce to fast-track their divorce process.

Here, we will review what an uncontested divorce is, how to go about one, how much it will cost and how fast it will take to better determine if this process is right for you. Not all divorces have to be heart wrenching. This kind of divorce helps take the sting out of what can sometimes be an unfortunate affair.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce? California Definition

In California, there are two kinds of divorce: Contested and uncontested. A divorce is contested when the spouses disagree about the terms of the divorce. Considered the most expensive and time-consuming, a contested divorce requires the judge to make a decision on matters between the spouses.

In contrast, an uncontested divorce is when the terms of the divorce are agreed upon between the spouses. The more inexpensive and quicker option, this procedure does not require a judge’s trial presence and many spouses opt to do it as a DIY process.

Uncontested Divorce: California Qualifications

To satisfy the criteria of an uncontested divorce in the Golden State, you must meet the following requirements:

  • One spouse must have lived in California for six months and in the county where they will get divorced for the prior three months
  • Both spouses must be able to sign all of the divorce paperwork
  • Both spouses must agree on the divorce terms, including alimony, child custody, child support and division of property

Both spouses must create a “settlement agreement,” a written contract that memorializes your mutual understanding of the divorce terms. This agreement is binding on each spouse as to their rights and her responsibilities under the divorce contract.

If you are having difficulty coming to an agreement, you can hire the support of a mediator who can possibly walk you both through what the best mutual decision could be. You could also hire an attorney to support you during this process.

Completing an Uncontested Divorce: California Process

One spouse (the “petitioner”) files a petition for a divorce indicating the reason, or “grounds,” for the divorce and what you are seeking (a “dissolution of marriage”). The other spouse (the “respondent”) responds to the filed petition. If you have minor children, you need to complete additional forms about the children: Child support and custody rights.

Two uncontested divorce procedures exist in California:

Summary Dissolution

This is a simplified resolution of your divorce where both parties agree to the terms, provided that (among other things) there are no minor children, the marriage was less than five years, no real estate was involved and neither party will pay alimony. In a summary dissolution, both parties waive their right to appeal the case.

Standard Solution

If you and your spouse do not fit within the rubric of a summary dissolution, you will have a standard case for uncontested divorce. Simply complete the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and submit it to the court.

The California Courts website contains a listing and instructions for the applicable forms for your marriage. Once you submit the paperwork with the court, you must serve your spouse with the divorce papers by a third party. Depending on whether your spouse responds, the case will proceed as either a “default” or an uncontested case. There is a six-month waiting period until your divorce is finalized.

What Is an “Online Divorce?”

An online divorce in California does not mean that you will not go to the courthouse. Rather, this service helps you with the legal paperwork that is required for an uncontested case. You simply answer a questionnaire and it takes two days for the company to return the papers that you need to file with the court. This service is useful if you are looking to streamline the uncontested divorce process in an affordable way.

Uncontested Divorce: California Costs

The filing fee for submitting an uncontested divorce with the court is $435. If you are unable to pay this fee, you can request a fee waiver. If you choose to hire an attorney for this process, the costs will be considerably more expensive than if you elect to do it yourself or with the help of an online divorce service. Whether you go it alone in a DIY fashion or seek the help of an attorney or mediator, expect to pay based on your level of support.

Want to File an Uncontested Divorce in California? Speak With a Professional Today

If you want to file for an uncontested divorce, California makes the process relatively straightforward. Consider speaking with an expert to discuss your best option today.

Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information, but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.