What is an uncontested divorce? Do you need a lawyer? What’s the process and how long does it take?
If you’re facing divorce in California, chances are you have a number of questions just like these. After all, the divorce process can be confusing.
I sat down with California family law attorney Erin Levine to clear up the confusion.
Let’s jump into that conversation.
What is an uncontested divorce in California?
An uncontested divorce is when both spouse’s agree on all issues related to their divorce including – property, debt, support, child custody and attorney/ mediator fees
Can you get an uncontested divorce without a lawyer?
Yes – Absolutely (although you may want to consult with lawyer or legal coach before you submit you final paperwork). If you have an uncontested divorce in California, we have several options through Hello Divorce. Our Divorce Navigator 2.0 (aka DIY Divorce) breaks down divorce into bite sized pieces. Users follow our interactive guide and form generating software to complete the divorce paperwork on their own. We also offer upgraded plans – our DIY Plus and Divorce with Benefits services include a Legal Asisstant who prepares, files and processes all of the paperwork necessary to obtain your divorce (without a court appearance!)
How do you file for an uncontested divorce in California?
You file/start like you would any other divorce – by preparing and filing (with the court) your Petition, Summons and UCCJEA (if you have children) forms.
What is the process for completing an uncontested divorce?
First, you must ensure that the Petition is properly served. You can have a third party adult personally deliver the documents to your spouse or you can have some mail the documents to your spouse with a “Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt.” Your spouse must sign that Notice and you will need to file it with the court. A “Proof of Service” must also be filed with the court.
The Petitioner must complete and exchange financial “disclosures.” If your spouse filed a Response to your initial Petition – then s/he must do these disclosure forms as well.
Finally, after you come to a complete agreement on all issues pertaining to your divorce, a Judgment must be filed. “Judgment” is a little misleading because it implies that there is just one form. Rather, there are several forms that must be filed with the Judgment to ensure that your Judge signs off on your divorce.
How long does an uncontested divorce typically take?
Your divorce is not “officially” final for 6 months from date of service or signing of Notice of Acknowledgment of Receipt – but many people complete their divorce forms long before the 6 month waiting period.
Do you have to go to court for an uncontested divorce?
No. However, if you take a very long time to complete it, your Judge may request that you come to court to update him/her on the status of your case.
How much does an uncontested divorce cost in California?
It depends on whether you do with a lawyer – all the way through – $4-6k. At Hello Divorce, we charge $99/month (cancel as soon as you complete your documents) or $2,500 (included both parties). If you want to add an hour of time for a lawyer to review, we charge $300.
What are a few benefits of an uncontested divorce?
Time, money, convenience, less drama and the likelihood that you and your spouse will have a much better co-parenting relationship.
An uncontested divorce means that you will likely never need to go in front of a judge. That means, you don’t have to take time off of work, you don’t have to battle it out in court and you get to make decisions that will affect your future (not a random third person – aka judge).
You can also handle all the paperwork yourself – or with the help of a program or service – instead of having to pay $1,000’s to a lawyer.
Finally, if your divorce has less conflict, you are much more likely to have a successful co-parenting relationship post-divorce.
What are the best tools and resources to get through an uncontested divorce?
If you and your spouse have are having a difficult time coming to an agreement on the issues pertaining to your divorce, you may want to consider the following:
- Read: Tips for a Successful Mediation; 6 Steps to Take Before you Begin Divorce Mediation; How to Keep Your Divorce Conversations Productive
- Mediate: You can mediate with a third (neutral) party like a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, trained/certified mediator, co-parenting counselor and/or a lawyer.
- Use: Divorce Navigator, powered by Hello Divorce, to prepare your forms.
- Be sure to use the promo code to get $50 off a premium membership: SURVIVEDIVORCE50
Looking for great tips to help you get through divorce? Check out a few of our favorite guides and resources: