When Dave and Tiffani decided to divorce, time was an issue. They both wanted to move on as quickly as possible. New to the whole process, they consulted with their attorneys about how to achieve the speediest resolution. The term “uncontested divorce” kept cropping up.
Contested vs. Uncontested
A contested divorce is when the divorcing couple cannot hammer out a marital settlement agreement. This type of divorce tends to be more expensive, more stressful, and more time-consuming. If you are involved in a contested divorce, you probably will attend several court hearings, which also means frequent meetings with your attorney.
On the other hand, an uncontested divorce is fairly uncomplicated. Generally, this type of divorce resolves in one of two ways:
- The divorcing couple reach a private agreement about all the issues that came up in their divorce.
- The responding spouse simply does not respond to the divorce papers. After a time, the court gives the person who initiated the divorce a default judgment.
Sometimes, a divorce starts out uncontested but changes to contested as the parties begin to spar over issues like property division, spousal support, and child custody arrangements.
Timeline of an Uncontested Divorce
Generally, it is safe to assume an uncontested divorce might proceed as follows:
- The Petitioner starts the divorce by filing a Petition for Dissolution (Form FL-100) and a Summons (Form FL-110).
- Additional paperwork may be filed if children are involved.
- The divorce papers must be officially served on the Respondent for the case to proceed or the Respondent can sign for the papers to save time.
- Within 60 days, the Petitioner completes and serves Preliminary Disclosure documents on the Respondent.
- The Respondent has 30 days to file a response.
- Respondent will file his or her own Preliminary Disclosures.
- The court usually holds one or more status hearings.
- The Petitioner and Respondent formalize their agreement in a Marital Settlement Agreement and file it with the court, along with:
- Appearance, Stipulations and Waivers
- Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation
- Notice of Entry of Judgment
- Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure.
- Final judgment is entered.
As always, additional documents will be filed if the couple have children.
It’s easy to recognize that uncontested divorce cases generally resolve more quickly than most contested divorces. Since the time spent negotiating is a variable, it’s impossible to give an exact time for finalizing an uncontested divorce. However, a California divorce cannot be finalized until six months have passed since the date the respondent was served with a copy of the petition and summons.
Are You Headed for an Uncontested Divorce?
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.