When your spouse files for divorce in Los Angeles, you generally have a few options. First, you can choose not to respond to the divorce petition, which will result in legal default and an award of the relief requested in the filing party's petition. Second, you can respond to the petition and oppose the relief requested, instead requesting your own. Third, you and your spouse can come to a mutual agreement out of court and file the agreement with the court for entry.
This is called an “uncontested divorce,” so what's the benefit of hiring an attorney if you have already come to an agreement with your spouse? Even when both parties are in complete agreement on the terms of their divorce, there are several factors to consider when it comes to dividing property, settling debt, and establishing child support.
This is a time to seek outside support in order to ensure that both you and your spouse are both clear on your priorities, and can settle the divorce proceedings quickly without delay. The California court system requires that all couples go through the court in order to finalize their divorce. While uncontested divorce cases might not require a judge to hear your case, and may be submitted through a clerk, it is important to follow the correct steps when filing.
Even a case that seems completely straightforward will require each party to fill out a number of forms and submit them in the correct order. Working with legal consultation will help you draft a settlement agreement that honors each parties requests, and can help to relieve the stress of filing these documents correctly. It would be in your best interest to consult with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer at Furman & Zavatsky LLP. Our attorneys will need to closely examine the details in order to determine your best legal options. See related page: Uncontested Divorce.
Uncontested Divorce Agreements
If you decide to proceed with an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse can agree to the following:
- To end your marriage;
- How to divide your property;
- How to apportion your debt;
- To pay or forgo spousal support; and
- How to proceed with child support and custody arrangements.
It should be noted that, if you have children, the best interest of the child controls child support and custody arrangements. This means that the judge ultimately makes the decision regarding these issues based on neutral judicial standards, not by agreement of the parties. Therefore, if you have children it is always in your best interest to seek the assistance of an attorney even in an uncontested divorce.
A Los Angeles family law attorney at our law firm can help you understand your rights and the standards that a judge will apply concerning child support and custody agreements. While the Judge will ultimately make a decision regarding custody agreements and child support, putting together a unified plan before presenting to a judge can help you achieve the terms that you are both looking for.
In determining the proper amount of child support to award, California judges will generally follow income guidelines to determine the base amount of support that should be provided to the children. In an uncontested divorce, however, you and your spouse can agree to support above or below these guidelines only if you attest to the following:
- You know your child support rights fully;
- You know the guideline child support amount you would be entitled to;
- You were not pressured or coerced into accepting the amount;
- You are not receiving nor have applied for public assistance;
- The amount of support meets the needs of the children; and
- The support is in the best interest of the children.
However, the judge must approve this agreement. For this reason, it's important to contact a Los Angeles family law attorney to draft any settlement matters to ensure that you are applying the right legal standards in the process.
Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney
If you and your spouse are attempting to work together for the benefit of yourselves and your children, it is important to understand and follow the steps for filing an uncontested divorce. Regardless of your willingness to work through the process, and ability to agree on terms, legal representation can help expedite the proceedings and confirm that you are on track for an amicable resolution.
There is nothing worse than extending the divorce and custody process because you have failed to follow the standards for drafting a settlement agreement. Accordingly, it is always worth it to contact a family law attorney to ensure that you understand all of your rights before entering into a settlement and to draft a judicially proper settlement agreement. Furman & Zavatsky LLP has the experienced attorneys you need to assist you with the California divorce process.
Our Los Angeles divorce lawyers can help you determine whether settlement or litigation is the best choice for you. Contact us today for a free, no risk consultation at 818-528-3471. Serving the greater Los Angeles area.