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How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in California

The ease of your divorce case will depend largely on whether it is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce is the most desirable kind, as it allows a couple to get a divorce without going to trial. While an uncontested divorce is not possible for everyone, most couples try this route before resorting to a divorce trial. You can increase your odds of achieving an uncontested divorce in California with the right knowledge, resources and professional assistance.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is one in which both spouses agree to the terms of the split. Rather than contesting, or arguing, any of its elements, both spouses are satisfied with the terms the divorce petition proposes. The divorce can then move forward without a legal battle or divorce trial. A judge will review the agreement the spouses have drawn up and – in most cases – sign off to make the agreement legally binding, thus dissolving the marriage.

A contested divorce, on the other hand, may end up in trial if one or both spouses challenge or dispute its terms. If one spouse does not agree to the terms the other is suggesting, such as how to divide property or handle child custody, that spouse can contest the terms. The two spouses will then have to negotiate new terms to achieve an uncontested divorce, or else take the case to trial in California.

Differences Between Contested and Uncontested

The processes of a contested vs. uncontested divorce in California are much different. From the amount of time it will take to settle your divorce case to how much money it will cost, whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce can make a big difference. An uncontested divorce could lead to a default judgment – a quick decision on your divorce case that can happen if your spouse fails to respond to your divorce petition. If your spouse does respond but you manage to sort out the terms of your divorce together, you can still save time and money by avoiding a trial.

An uncontested divorce case can take as little as six months from start to finish, even with California’s mandatory waiting period. In contrast, a contested divorce that requires a trial may take one year or longer to complete. The costs of lawyers, filing fees and court processes can also increase with the measures you must take to resolve a contested divorce case. The other major difference is that you lose control over the outcome of your divorce if it is contested. Once a contested divorce goes to trial, your fate will be in the hands of a judge. During an uncontested divorce, however, you and your spouse will have the final say in the terms of the agreement.

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce in California?

You can improve your chances of getting an uncontested divorce in California by hiring a divorce lawyer. A lawyer will be able to guide you through different types of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, that can help you and your spouse reach an uncontested divorce agreement and avoid a trial. You may need to hire a lawyer to help you reach an uncontested divorce if you are on a different page than your spouse, do not feel comfortable negotiating with your spouse alone, are unsure of how to protect your rights or if your spouse has already hired an attorney.

If you and your spouse tried to reach an agreement without a lawyer but failed, it is not too late to hire an attorney to represent you in future negotiations. A divorce lawyer can take over your case, offering new insights and options to help you and your spouse compromise on the terms of the split without needing a lengthy trial. If you already know you will have a contested divorce in San Francisco, hire a lawyer to protect your rights during pre-trial and trial processes. A divorce lawyer will have the skill, resources and experience to handle a complex contested divorce case. Contact us today for a consultation regarding your divorce case.