Every divorce in California is unique because the marriage circumstances are different. How your divorce process could proceed typically depends on many factors, such as potential child custody issues, alimony, community and separate property matters, and many other reasons.
In California, there are two categories of divorce, which is either contested or uncontested. In situations where you and your spouse cannot remain on friendly, reasonable terms, you are heading toward a contested case.
A contested divorce is much more expensive because it involves much more time to resolve. You will have to negotiate with your spouse and likely be required to participate in mediation to agree on unresolved issues.
If you cannot reach a mutual agreement, you are forcing the family court to make the decisions for you. Litigation in a California family court usually is expensive, time-consuming, frustrating, stressful, and does not always turn out as planned.
On the flip side, if you and your spouse can remain civil and reach a mutual agreement on the most relevant issues before filing the petition, you could be eligible for an uncontested divorce.
This is typically much less expensive and stressful and usually benefits both spouses. However, even if you can pursue an uncontested divorce, it would be wise to retain an experienced divorce lawyer to advise you on how the process works and to have the best chance at a favorable outcome.
In this article by our California family law lawyers, we will examine this topic in greater detail below.
Do You Qualify for a Summary Dissolution in California?
In California, there is a simple divorce process called a “summary dissolution,” but you must first meet specific requirements to be eligible, such as:
- Have no minor children or are currently pregnant,
- Neither spouse is seeking alimony,
- You were married less than five years,
- Neither spouse can have debts exceeding $6,000, except for a car loan,
- Martial assets are less than $43,000, including retirement accounts,
- Separate assets can't exceed a value greater than $43,000,
- You have a signed written agreement over dividing assets and debts,
- Neither spouse is the owner of real estate property.
- At least one spouse meets the state's residency requirements.
- You have to state irreconcilable differences as the grounds for the divorce
Suppose you believe you qualify for summary dissolution?
In that case, it would still be wise to have a consultation with an experienced family law lawyer. Why?
The lawyer can closely examine your situation, advise whether you qualify for a summary dissolution, and help you file the proper paperwork with the family court to prevent any mistakes that will prolong the divorce process.
Further, the family law lawyer can review your marital settlement agreement to ensure it adequately covers all the relevant issues required by the court and complies with California family laws.
You also want to ensure the deal is in your best interest and that of your kids.
Do You Qualify for an Uncontested Divorce?
Suppose you do not qualify for summary dissolution? In that case, you can still pursue an uncontested divorce, which means you and your spouse can reach a mutual agreement on all the issues related to the divorce, such as:
- Child custody and visitation arrangement,
- Child support and spousal support issues,
- Distribution of the community property,
- Which spouse is responsible for the marital debts,
- Issues related to who keeps the separate property,
In a California uncontested divorce, you can submit your marital settlement agreement to the family court that will typically approve it as long as it follows the law.
Many spouses make the mistake of assuming that since they can agree with their spouse on ending the marriage, they don't need to get a divorce lawyer involved. Let's review why you should still retain a lawyer for an uncontested divorce in California.
What Are the Reasons Why You Still Need a Lawyer an Uncontested Divorce?
For many reasons, it's a mistake not to retain a lawyer in an uncontested divorce. Perhaps you will make an error during the uncontested divorce process that will cause delays and unexpected fees. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Is your marital settlement agreement complete?
- Have you considered all your legal options?
- Have you considered the consequences of making errors?
- Have you prepared an agreement with the necessary legal language to make it enforceable?
Suppose you don't correctly disclose your judgment? In that case, you are subjected to a later challenge. Judgments can frequently be rejected for technical reasons.
If you decide to file for an uncontested divorce without any legal assistance from a lawyer, then you are potentially creating problems that are difficult or impossible to fix. Thus, here are some reasons to consider:
- Each divorce is unique, and there are no standard divorce forms for every type of agreement. A divorce lawyer can help you with the necessary documents.
- When you retain a lawyer for your uncontested divorce, you ensure the necessary relevant tasks will be completed correctly and on time.
- Divorce lawyers do this for a living and know how to handle crucial matters related to child custody, support, and property division.
- Divorce attorneys know how to deal with the necessary legal documents and the routine court process, along with knowing any new laws.
- A lawyer can ensure that your marital settlement agreement has been correctly filled out and complies with the law.
- An attorney can help you draft your divorce documents to clearly outline the agreement, including a resolution for future issues.
- Hiring a divorce lawyer means you know they have considered the contents of the marital agreement and thought of potential future issues.
A common myth is that a divorce attorney is only needed when spouses can't reach an agreement on their own.
Many divorcing couples believe they can just go online and get the free forms and let a paralegal or non-lawyer friend review them.
If you have decided to get a divorce and you and your spouse can reach a mutual agreement, we can help you through the process.
Most people are unfamiliar with their rights under California divorce laws. This often means they make an unfair property division resolution agreement that actually deprives them of the assets they are entitled to in a divorce. We can help you protect your rights and financial future.
We have many years of helping people with uncontested divorce in California. We offer a wide range of services for a flat fee (link) to help clients get reasonable divorce fees.
The California divorce and family law lawyers at Furman and Zavatsky are in Los Angeles County. We offer a free case consultation at (818) 528-3471 or use the contact form.