Couples decide to divorce when they simply cannot make things work anymore. However, while divorce is usually brought on by conflict, sometimes a couple can agree in full with the terms of the divorce and all its components. This is called an uncontested divorce. When you serve your spouse with a summons and petition for dissolution of marriage, along with any other forms relevant to your case, they have a window of time, 30 days, when they can submit a response to the petition.

Responses are filed when they disagree with one or more issues regarding the divorce, such as property division or the timesharing schedule. If they choose to simply raise no objection to the terms of the divorce and give up their right to respond or attempt to negotiate a different agreement, then it is a default divorce. If they agree in part and you are both able to reach an agreement in writing on any changes, and no response is ever filed, it is an uncontested divorce or a default divorce with an agreement. If you or your spouse cannot agree on the terms of the divorce and one of you has filed a response, the divorce is a contested divorce. However, in California, the divorce itself cannot be contested.

Anyone who desires a divorce can petition for one. Their spouse, also called the respondent or opposing party, does not have to agree to the divorce for it to be finalized. It is really the issues at hand that are contested, like timesharing schedules or property division issues. The majority of divorces will be contested on at least some issues. Working out an agreement on everything from debt division to which weekends you get your child is quite a feat. If you do agree on all issues and your divorce is uncontested, make sure your agreements adhere to legal guidelines on things like property division and custody. Even if you both agree on something, it may or may not be what is best for your child and this will be the court’s main concern. Because your final judgment must be signed off on and entered by a judge, it must look out for the best interests of your child and meet other requirements set forth by California family law.

Are you in the Los Angeles area and have questions about the divorce process? Certified Family Law Specialist Mark H. Karney has experience handling contested and uncontested divorces alike in Los Angeles County. The family law attorneys at Fernandez & Karney can evaluate your case and work tenaciously to reach an agreement with the opposing party. Call our Los Angeles office at 310-564-5710; email us at or contact us through our online form to schedule your free consultation with one of Los Angeles’s premier family law attorneys.