There are a few situations that may be considered an “uncontested divorce” in California, and the requirements vary according to where your situation fits. Many divorces are amicable, and the parties are able to agree to all issues without court intervention. In other cases, a spouse just wants it over and doesn’t respond to a divorce petition, which of course is unwise, because such inaction will affect them for years to come. Uncontested divorces include:
- The spouses file for a Summary Dissolution, or
- One spouse files the petition, the other does not respond, and the couple have but there is an agreement, or the parties would like to reach an agreement amicably; or,
- One spouse files the petition, the other does not respond, and there is no agreement (default)
Summary dissolution is a quick, easy way to get divorced for couples who agree on everything, have no children and who do not have complex property issues. It is not a choice available to everyone, however. In order to get a summary dissolution, you must meet the following requirements.
- You are married. Summary dissolution is not a method to dissolve a domestic partnership.
- One spouse has lived in California for the last six months and in the county where you file for summary dissolution for the last 3 months. Same sex couples, who married in California but live in a state that will not dissolve their marriage, may file in the California county where they were married despite their current residency.
- You were married five years or less until the day you separated.
- You have no children together nor are you expecting any.
- Neither of you own real estate.
- You do not rent real estate aside from your residence as long as you do not have a one-year lease or option to buy.
- You and your spouse do not owe over $6,000 in debt acquired during your marriage except for car loans.
- You and your spouse have less than $41,000 worth of property acquired during the marriage excluding cars.
- Neither spouse has separate property worth more than $41,000.
- You both agree that no spousal support will be paid.
- You and your spouse have a signed agreement that divides your property and debts.
- You have both read the booklet titled Summary Dissolution Information (Form FL-810).
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No Response, No Agreement
In some cases, one spouse files for divorce and serves the other, but they just do not respond. This is a type of uncontested case called a “default” case. By not responding or working out an agreement with their spouse, a party gives up all right to address anything about the divorce from property division to spousal support to child support. Unless there is a clear reason to do otherwise, the judge will likely simply order what the petitioning spouse asks. So, before you choose not to respond, read your spouse’s petition very, very carefully, and have your California divorce lawyer look it over if you have any doubts.
No Response with Agreement
If one of the spouses files a divorce petition, and the other does not respond, but they have a written agreement covering all important divorce issues, it is still considered an uncontested divorce. However, in this case, both spouses have determined what is best for their futures and that of any children they may have together.
The couple must write an agreement that is called a “stipulated judgment” and have it notarized. They must then fill our their final forms and file these with the court along with any other orders they want the court to make. Finally, one of the spouses may have to serve a final Declaration of Disclosure. The final Declaration of Disclosure which will use the same forms as the preliminary declaration along with any updates.
It is possible for you both to waive having a final Declaration of Disclosure served. You can also get a court order waiving receipt of your spouse’s final Declaration of Disclosure. If your spouse has not filed a response to your divorce petition and has not signed a written, notarized settlement agreement or stipulated judgment, you need not serve a final Declaration of Disclosure.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce?
There is some help available through the courts such as local Family Law Facilitators and Self-Help Centers. However, these resources do not act as advocates looking out for your interests. If you have property or children, you would be wise to have an experienced California divorce attorney at least help with an agreement with your spouse and look over any petition or other documents they file with the court. If you are located in Sherman Oaks, Encino, Woodland Hills, Studio City or another area of Los Angeles County, call Ghazi Law Group for a free consultation at 818.839.6644 or email us at email@example.com.
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Of course, we have barely brushed the surface of California child custody issues here. For example, grandparents may also be concerned with getting visitations privileges or even custody of the child in some instances. We encourage you to call us here at Ghazi Law Group at (818) 839-6644 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation to discuss all the aspects of divorce including child custody and child visitation. If you are looking for a lawyer who serves people from Sherman Oaks, Encino, Woodland Hills, Studio City and other areas of Los Angeles County, call us for your initial free consultation and put your mind at ease.