The 5 Basic Steps for Uncontested Divorce in California

When both spouses mutually consent to the terms of their divorce or legal separation, they can file for an uncontested divorce. Compared to a contested divorce, an uncontested divorce takes less time and money in legal fees. However, before filing for divorce, you should know the steps beforehand to avoid future complications. Keep reading on to learn what they are. 


Why Does Uncontested Divorce Take So Long in California?

Divorce cases are often complex, and nobody is unaware of that. A multitude of attributes like child custody, asset division, spousal support, etc., are merged with the divorce procedure. And that is why divorce takes pretty long to accomplish in the state of California.     

Estimating the duration of divorce is quite challenging. To be precise, the time period between the initial divorce filing and the final court judgment differs from one case to another. Since an uncontested divorce is free from all the complications and disagreement, in the state of California there is a cooling-off period. Which is six months and one day, from the date the other party is served, for the judge to finalize the divorce 

To ensure the divorce court documents are prepared correctly and smoothly to completion, you can always seek paralegal services in Sacramento to draft the divorce documents. File the documents, and serve the other party.


Steps and Costs for an Uncontested Divorce

As mentioned earlier in the article, a couple files an uncontested divorce when they both agree on:

  • Child support 
  • Child visitation
  • Spousal support 
  • Child custody 
  • Property allocation 
  • Debt division  

When there is no contest in a divorce filing, the legal procedures involved get easier. Once you meet California\’s residency obligation, you can proceed with the following steps. 


Step 1: Petition filing 

When filing the uncontested divorce petition with the court, you need to mention some basic information regarding you, your spouse, the reason for divorce, duration of the marriage, financial disclosures, etc. The moment you file the petition, you and your partner should no longer accumulate community property. 

Note: As per the California divorce law, the individual who first files the divorce petition is called the petitioner, and the other partner becomes the respondent. 


Step 2: Serve the respondent 

After filing the petition, the California court asks you to serve your spouse the initially filed divorce documents, informing him/her that a divorce case has commenced. Also, you need to serve the respondent with all the divorce paperwork you have filed this far. 

If you and your partner are not on good terms, you can hire a process server to serve your spouse instead of handling the task on your own. 


Step 3: Wait for the respondent\’s answer 

When you serve your spouse, he/she gets a period of 30 days to respond. The respondent must complete a parallel set of legal documents and file them with the court clerk. If the respondent fails to respond within the expected timeframe, the court has full authority to present a default verdict. 

Usually, in an uncontested divorce with children and/or assets, the respondent signs and notarizes a marriage settlement agreement. Agreeing to all the divorce terms. In an uncontested divorce with no children or assets, if the respondent does not file a response, a default judgment can be entered, without a marriage settlement agreement.


Step 4: Preliminary declaration of disclosure 

 In this step, both the petitioner and the respondent need to interchange financial documents involving the post-divorce property allocation and debt. Additionally, the documents should include all the information regarding tax returns. 


Step 5: The final judgment 

When you complete all the prior steps successfully, the judge approves the divorce procedure and ceases the case. Signing the final judgment divorce document to finalize your divorce.


Do you need to hire an attorney to file an uncontested divorce? 

Since there is no complication in the case, you might not need any lawyer to represent you in court. Most likely there will not be a hearing if the other party doesn’t contest. However, you will need expert legal aid to draft the divorce forms, petition, marriage settlement agreement, final court papers, etc. 

When you seek paralegal support to file your divorce, they equip you with all the helpful resources, making sure that your divorce filing goes smoothly.  

As you can see, filing an uncontested divorce does not ask you to have to deal with any court complications. So, you can conveniently get the work done by hiring a paralegal expert, saving your money, as well as your precious time. Feel free to contact us if you need paralegal legal assistance.

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