Not every divorce in California requires a dramatic courtroom confrontation where emotions run high, fingers are pointed and contentious statements are made. Some couples simply believe that they should no longer be married and want to take care of the matter in a way that is fair, equitable and, above all, saves time and heartache. These couples may be interested in pursuing an uncontested divorce.
What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a way for spouses in California to simplify and expedite the divorce process. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses to certain divorce issues. A trial is not held in an uncontested divorce. Instead, a settlement is reached between the spouses allowing them to dissolve their marriage. Some spouses choose mediation as a way to reach such a settlement.
Do I qualify for an uncontested divorce?
Not every couple qualifies for an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is only possible if:
- You or your spouse resided in California for at least six months and in the county where you are seeking a divorce for the past three months
- You and your spouse have reached an agreement on divorce legal issues, including spousal support, custody of any children of the marriage and the division of assets and debts
- You and your spouse executed a written settlement agreement and have signed all the necessary forms to complete your divorce
In addition, there are two forms a couple in California has to complete in an uncontested divorce.
Summary dissolution and standard dissolution
One way to complete an uncontested divorce is through summary dissolution. You may qualify for summary dissolution if:
- You and your spouse have no minor children together
- You were married five years or fewer
- Your marital assets do not include a home or any other type of real estate
- You agree not to pay spousal support
A summary dissolution is a final decision and cannot be appealed.
A second way you could complete an uncontested divorce if you do not qualify for summary dissolution is through standard dissolution. In a standard dissolution, you and your spouse will execute a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage,” and submit it for court approval. If you are going through a standard dissolution, you must wait six months before your divorce can be finalized.
Getting a divorce can be emotionally challenging, but there is no reason why spouses who want to keep the divorce process simple and equitable cannot put their differences aside long enough to complete an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is a good option for some who want to end their marriage with as little strife as possible.