An uncontested divorce in Fresno, California, can be an economical alternative to a traditional or contested divorce. Imagine a process that can save you stress, money, and time. With an uncontested divorce, you avoid much of the frustration that can result from a complicated contested divorce procedure. As a bonus, you may never have to appear in court.
No divorce should be entered into lightly though. Even an uncontested divorce requires that you follow a strict and detailed procedure before the court will grant the divorce. Attorney Rick D. Banks has the experience you need to help you navigate the critical and exacting procedures necessary to protect your rights while you dissolve your marriage.
What is an Uncontested Divorce in California?
When you and your spouse are able to agree on all major terms necessary to dissolve your marriage, you have an uncontested divorce. If your case is contested when you file it, it does not have to stay that way. You may find that through negotiation and mediation, you and your spouse are able to come to agreement on all terms. When you reach agreement, it’s an easy process to switch to the less complicated procedure for uncontested divorce.
What is the Process of an Uncontested Divorce in California?
Regardless of how quickly the parties can come to terms in an uncontested divorce, the case must be on file for at least six months before the court can enter a final judgment. Other steps and requirements include:
- At least one of the spouses has lived in California for at least six months.
- The spouse who files the petition must have been a resident of the county where the petition is filed for at least 90 days.
Serving and Answering the Petition
- The summons and petition for divorce can be service only by a law enforcement officer or a private process server. You cannot serve your spouse directly.
- If you file the petition for divorce, your spouse has 30 days to file an answer.
- If your spouse does not file an answer, you can ask the court to enter a default.
Other Filing Requirements
- If children are involved, you will file a declaration under the Uniform Child Support Jurisdiction Enforcement Act.
- At least one of the spouses will file a declaration of finances. This provides the court a general idea of your assets and liabilities.
Negotiating the Agreement
The key to treating a divorce as uncontested is reaching agreement with your spouse on all major issues with nothing left for the judge but to ensure that the agreement is fair to both parties. The issues you and your spouse must consider include:
- Division of assets and debts
- On-going spousal and child support
- Child custody and visitation
Judgment of Dissolution
Once you and your spouse reach agreement on all issues, you will present your agreement to the court. Even though the parties represent to the court that they have reached agreement on all issues, the judge will not just accept the agreement at face value. The court will consider the agreement to make sure that it is fair and that any child support is within the California guidelines.
Although the court will grant wide latitude to you and your spouse, the terms must be fair and reasonable for both parties. In approving the agreement the court will consider that California is a community property state and may not look favorably on agreements that are obviously one-sided.
Why Should I Hire a Divorce Lawyer for My Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is designed to move more smoothly and more quickly than a contested divorce. All divorces are emotionally difficult. It may seem attractive to do all you can to bring the matter to a close quickly. It’s important to keep in mind that the desire to be free of a bad situation can lead to rash and unwise decisions for the sake of smoothing the way. Spouses often leave valuable assets on the table because they don’t understand their rights. It’s not unusual to dread the work and negotiation it takes to come to a fair division, but many spouses give up assets and other rights because they were too anxious to bring the divorce to a close. Unfortunately, they often find that managing their finances after the divorce is a lot more difficult than they imagined.
Once the court approves the agreement and enters a judgment of dissolution, changing the terms is difficult unless one of the spouses can prove that the other committed fraud. Therefore, it is important that you partner with an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney will help you carefully consider your rights and your options so that you leave nothing to chance.
Attorney Rick D. Banks has zealously represented hundreds of clients through uncontested and contested divorces. He and his staff are dedicated to helping you achieve a fair and reasonable result that will serve you well into the future. Contact our firm today for a consultation.