Looking at California Divorce Process: Uncontested Guide

surviving infidelityFor newlyweds, the last thing on both their minds is getting divorced. At that time, the ‘till death do us part’ is for real, and neither expects they’ll ever get divorced. But in many cases, it still happens, and that’s okay. A divorce is often a time filled with uncertainty, immense financial strain, and full of emotions. But it doesn’t have to go in that direction. A California divorce process uncontested case can be straightforward, given it is less stressful, time-efficient, and cost-effective.

Basically, an uncontested divorce is whereby both parties have agreed to cooperate and have come with a resolution about the divorce proceedings and other underlying issues. In California, the divorce process consists of three steps. Before a divorce can be finalized, there’s a compulsory ‘cooling’ period of six months that is implemented. The six month period starts from the time the initial petition to divorce is filed.

Here’s a California uncontested divorce process guide:

Initial Filing

The first stage of the divorce will see you preparing and filing a divorce petition. You’ll be required by the county court to begin by filing a petition for marriage dissolution, summons, and other related judicial council and local forms. In California law courts, the Form FL-100, Petition is the one that jumps starts the uncontested divorce process. Before filing Form FL-100, one or both of the parties must have been a legal California resident for the past six months or more. And when filing Form FL-100, you must present Summons FL-110.

Related: Complete list of CA divorce forms, with links

You’ll also be required to disclose your personal information and that of your partner, which includes things like:

  • Duration of marriage
  • When you got married
  • Where you live
  • Property
  • Identifying the children

It’s integral that these concerns be addressed properly and with some level of finesse. You can only demand what you request in the initial filing and pleading. The separation will be considered uncontested if both spouses want a divorce and have come to an agreement on terms like child custody and or support and property allocation.

Serve Your Spouse

Once you’ve filed and submitted the appropriate forms to the county office, the next stage is serving your spouse the divorce papers. Note that you can’t do this personally. Somebody over 18 years old has to deliver the petition and FL-115 Proof of Service of Summons, which lets the court know the spouse has been notified. Once you get served, the respondent has a 30-day gap between filing a response or risking the case being considered ‘default.’

Discovery Stage

As per California laws, both parties are required to exchange all their financial information, including community and separate property. This step involves both parties filling out a declaration of disclosure where they will disclose all their assets, expenses, income, and debts. Everything will be disclosed. That includes presenting supporting information such as credit card and bank statements, loan documents, tax returns, and title documents.

Related: Property and Debt Division Cheat Sheet

The Marital Settlement Agreement Stage

This is the last stage. It’s a contractual agreement between the spouses detailing how their debt and property will be sub-divided, child visitation and custody rights and whether child support or alimony will be paid. (Download our Marital Settlement Agreement template.) It’s submitted in the court of law as a final judgment. Upon approval by the court, it will be filed. Wait for the six-month waiting duration to pass.

Marriage is a legally binding action and should be treated similarly when it comes to ending it. If your differences are truly irreconcilable, then you shouldn’t feel obligated to stay in an unhappy marriage. There’s always an option for you. You can get your California divorce process uncontested case underway and move on with your life.

Not sure where to start? Schedule your FREE 15-minute divorce strategy conversation with our legal team now.

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