How an Uncontested Divorce Works in California

A divorce can put an immense financial strain on both divorcing parties, especially when it's contested. An uncontested divorce is cost-effective, time-efficient, and less stressful. Here are some of the many advantages to an uncontested divorce.

By James Jones
Updated: January 24, 2017
uncontested divorce

An uncontested divorce is simply a divorce in which the parties agree to cooperate with regard to the divorce process as well as any issues they may have.

There are many advantages to an uncontested divorce – including the fact that it's usually much less costly than a contested divorce. In fact, the average cost for a contested divorce is approximately $20,000+; in Los Angeles, this fee is often higher! In contrast, the price for an uncontested divorce with no issues can be as low as $625 (filing fee is additional and may be waived by the court). With an uncontested divorce being less than one-thirtieth the cost of a contested divorce, it is evident that strictly from a monetary standpoint an uncontested divorce is more desirable.

Likewise, an uncontested divorce is less stressful and less time-consuming. A contested divorce may require court hearings and a trial as well as multiple meetings with an attorney. It may also involve discovery, which includes depositions, notices to produce, request for admissions, interrogatories, etc. These procedures are very stressful. An uncontested divorce avoids multiple court appearances and lawyer time.

The first step in any divorce is to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer to determine if there are any issues that need to be resolved and to understand the court process in California. There are two kinds of uncontested divorces, namely:

  1. Uncontested divorces without issues
  2. Uncontested divorces with issues

Uncontested Divorce Without Issues

One of the main factors in a California divorce is the length of the marriage from the date of marriage to the date of separation. In California, separation does not need to be a formal legal separation. The date of separation is simply the date in which the parties no longer live together as spouses.

When the parties are married under 10 years (from the date of marriage to the date of separation) and there are no issues such as children, property, assets, or debts to divide and neither party wants spousal support, or anything else, then an uncontested divorce is the best way to go. An experienced divorce attorney would verify that there are no issues. An attorney who offers a flat fee for the divorce would be ideal. This divorce takes a minimum of six months and one day from the date of service and usually does not require a court appearance.

However, when the marriage is longer than 10 years, it is considered a long marriage and, even if there are no other issues, spousal support is an issue. If the parties do not wish to hold jurisdiction, meaning that either party could, at some future time, request spousal support, then an agreement would be required in order to waive spousal support by both parties. When either party wants the court to hold jurisdiction, then it would be indicated in the petition and the judgment.

Uncontested Divorce with Issues

When there are issues in a divorce of any length, then there would be a need for an agreement specifically addressing each issue. When the parties have children or property, there may be issues such as division of assets and debts, spousal support, child support and/or custody and visitation, or other issues. An agreement will detail how each issue will be handled. This will allow the divorce to be finalized without making a court appearance in most cases.

A consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer is essential. The lawyer will advise the client as to legal options and explain what is reasonable. Once the parties discuss the options, then an agreement can be prepared. If everything is completed timely, then this type of divorce can be finalized within the six-months-and-one-day time period from the date of service.

A flat-fee attorney would be ideal for any uncontested divorce; this is a good way to save money, time, and stress.


James Jones is a writer specializing in blog posts, press releases, and web content for online businesses. He is currently working with Legal Action Workshop Law.

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May 04, 2016

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