What You Need to Know About Uncontested Divorces in California

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What You Need to Know About Uncontested Divorces in California

No matter what movies and TV may imply, most divorces aren’t filled with dramatic fights or nasty legal battles. As the stigma around ending a marriage has faded and no-fault divorce has become the norm, splits have become more amicable. Since there’s no more need to prove who is “responsible” for the divorce and there’s less pressure to remain in an unhappy marriage, couples are divorcing before they lose the ability to work together entirely. 

If that sounds like your situation, you may want to consider an uncontested divorce. This process allows you and your spouse to dissolve your marriage without the need for court battles. Keep reading to learn how uncontested divorces work, their benefits, and how to make sure your divorce is fair without having a judge settle it for you. 

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce occurs when spouses agree on all the terms involved in their split. This term is used in contrast with contested divorces, in which the partners cannot compromise on aspects of their split and must have a judge intervene. 

In an uncontested divorce, the spouses draft a settlement together explaining how they want their assets, child custody, and spousal support to be handled. Both people will sign the agreement and submit it to the court together. The judge presiding over the case will review the settlement to ensure that neither party is exploited. If the proposed settlement stands up to this legal scrutiny, it will be approved, and the judge will use it to issue the final, binding divorce decree. The couple may only need to appear in court once to present their settlement.

This is significantly simpler and less time-consuming than a contested divorce. If a couple cannot compromise on various matters, they may need to schedule multiple hearings or even a trial to resolve their disputes. Litigation like this can cause the process to drag out for months or even years, which is the last thing most couples want. 

Benefits of Uncontested Divorces

As long as a couple remains amicable, an uncontested divorce is almost always the most effective way to dissolve a marriage. Some of the most significant benefits include:

  • Speed: After deciding to end a marriage, most people want to move on as soon as possible. In an uncontested divorce, you can ensure that your split is finalized as soon as California’s six-month waiting period is up. You don’t need to worry about scheduling multiple hearings in the crowded court system, so the process is significantly shorter. 
  • Satisfaction: When you and your spouse agree to sit down and compromise on matters such as child custody and asset division, you have a significantly better chance of achieving a satisfactory settlement. While you may have to make concessions, you do not risk a judge ruling against you and awarding your beloved family home to your spouse or ordering you to sell it.
  • Stress: Speed and satisfaction are directly responsible for making uncontested splits less stressful. Resolving your disputes through negotiation instead of litigation causes most people significantly less stress. Furthermore, since the process is faster, it won’t take up as much of your time, so you can focus on other matters. 

How to Ensure Your Divorce Is Fair

One concern some couples have regarding an uncontested divorce is that they may accidentally agree to an unfair settlement. While this is unlikely, it is still a valid worry. If you want to work with your spouse to streamline your split, the following strategies can ensure your settlement is equitable. 

Discuss Matters With Your Spouse 

This may seem obvious, but it can be the most challenging part of a cooperative split. To write a comprehensive settlement, you and your partner will need to discuss a variety of issues, including:

  • How you want to split assets and debts
  • Whether either of you will pay the other spousal support
  • If you have children, how you will manage custody

These concerns may bring up strong emotions, even if you remain amicable. However, it’s still necessary to have the discussions. 

You do not need to do it alone, though. You may find it easier to work with a mediator. During mediation sessions, the mediator will help you focus on one subject at a time until you come to an agreement. They can keep negotiations running smoothly by preventing tangents or unrelated arguments from distracting you. The mediator can also help prevent emotional subjects from impacting your decisions in unrelated matters by offering suggestions as a neutral third party. 

Be Accurate and Responsive

You need to be thorough and accurate in any separation, but it is particularly important if you want to keep your divorce uncontested. Your spouse has the right to understand your complete financial situation before you begin negotiating your settlement, and vice versa. If you accidentally leave out important details or forget to respond to a request for information for days or weeks at a time, you’ll slow the process down and risk your partner deciding it would be simpler to take the matter to court. 

Consult With an Expert Attorney

Finally, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced divorce lawyer, even if you are pursuing an uncontested split. Both you and your spouse need qualified legal representation to ensure you produce an equitable and legally binding settlement. Your attorney will explain your rights, provide suggestions, assist with negotiations, and draft the legal document you will eventually turn in to the court. 

If you’re considering a cooperative divorce, you can discuss your situation with the expert family lawyer at CC LawGroup. Attorney Cynthia Cho has decades of experience assisting clients like you with equitable divorces. Her empathetic and effective approach allows you to pursue your preferred outcome while remaining amicable. Schedule your consultation today to learn more.