Divorce is rarely easy, even when spouses part on good terms. Breaking up a marriage and home is a distressing prospect for any couple, but when divorcing spouses can agree on all terms in a California divorce, the process becomes much less stressful. But what’s involved in an uncontested divorce and how long does it take to finalize an uncontested divorce in California?
If you and your spouse agree on all terms, it not only lessens hostility and bitterness going forward but also minimizes the amount of time the process takes from start to finish. But first, it’s important to understand what terms you and your spouse will have to agree on together before submitting a divorce agreement to a judge.
What Terms Does California Require For a Divorce Agreement?
Divorce is always emotionally difficult, but does it have to also be legally complex? Because California has no-fault divorce laws, it’s possible for spouses to divorce without a contentious disagreement and a lengthy court process. But first, divorcing spouses should retain lawyers to represent their rights and interests during the settlement agreement process. California requires spouses to agree to terms on the following issues:
- Child custody/parenting time schedule
- Child support (California uses a specific formula to calculate child support)
- Equal distribution of marital assets and debts
- Spousal support if appropriate
Divorcing spouses must make full financial disclosures in order to have an accurate division of assets and debts. A divorce agreement must address all of these issues according to California’s divorce laws. This can be a fast and simple process for spouses with no children and few assets, but it becomes more challenging for spouses with children and substantial assets. In some cases, spouses must also agree on which spouse retains the family residence, whether they own or rent their home. If the home is a marital asset, spouses must agree for one spouse to buy out their share of the home or trade it for assets of equal value, or they can agree to sell the home and split the profit.
Many couples also seek guidance on the separation of their assets, child custody, and other issues through a professional Los Angeles mediator. Mediators often have solutions to offer for commonly contended matters that the spouses might otherwise not have considered.
California’s Six-Month Waiting Period For Divorce
Even an uncontested divorce takes at least 6 months in California. The state has a mandatory 6-month waiting period for divorce beginning on the day of filing. This waiting period serves to ensure that spouses meet the residency requirement for divorcing in California and is also a “cooling off period” intended to allow time for reconciliation. A small but significant percentage of spouses reconcile during this waiting period. Spouses do not have to live separately during the six-month waiting period.
Spouses may file and finalize an uncontested divorce in less than six months if they agree on all terms, but the court will not issue the final dissolution of marriage decree until the 6-month waiting period ends.
Will A Judge Always Sign an Uncontested Divorce Settlement Agreement?
In most cases, a judge simply signs off on an uncontested divorce agreement without the need for a hearing unless they have questions that require a court appearance, or the agreement doesn’t adhere to state divorce laws. A judge might also require a hearing if they find the agreement unfair to one spouse or suspect that one spouse signed the agreement under duress.
In the best-case scenario of an uncontested divorce in California, the entire process could take as little as 6 months. Speak with an experienced Los Angeles divorce lawyer to get started with the divorce process.