What is an Uncontested Divorce?
In the state of California, there are generally two options for divorce. A contested or uncontested divorce.
An uncontested divorce means you and your spouse have agreed to dissolve the marriage. Uncontested also means that you have decided on several significant issues, such as separation of assets, child custody, child support, and more.
An uncontested divorce is typically quicker as both parties agree on most of the issues that would need to be decided in a courtroom.
An uncontested divorce is an excellent option for those couples that don’t have significant shared assets or children. It can help to save time and money in dissolving the marriage. If both parties are amicable, even marriages with substantial assets and children involved can benefit from an uncontested divorce.
What is a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce typically involves one spouse filing a petition with the court to dissolve the marriage. Contested typically means that one of the parties or both disagrees on the essential aspects surrounding divorce and either can’t or aren’t willing to reach an agreement.
Contested divorces typically take longer and can cost more, as additional time is needed to resolve issues the couple doesn’t agree on. Complex problems, such as the division of assets, child custody, child support, and more, can take ample time to determine and decide on.
Once a spouse has filed a petition for divorce, the other party has 30 days to respond. The rest of the process can take a few months or years if challenging issues arise without resolution. Complex issues may arise, such as hidden assets or misleading information provided by one or both parties to keep information from their soon-to-be ex-spouse.
How is Mediation Effective in the Divorce Process?
Mediation can be incredibly valuable at nearly any divorce stage, whether during the initial phase to determine whether an uncontested divorce is an option or after the divorce to aid in moving forward and the new dynamics involved.
One of the many appealing characteristics of mediation is that it is typically less costly and less time-consuming than approaching disagreements on complex issues in court. Sensitive topics such as spousal support, child support, and more can be evaluated and discussed through mediation, which keeps these sensitive matters out of the public eye and the courts.
Mediation is also appealing as it requires a neutral professional that the couple can rely on to help work through each issue and facilitate a productive resolution. Mediators are highly skilled in assisting the participants to have tough conversations and come to a resolution of their issues.
Each topic is thoroughly discussed and examined, and as each agreement is reached, it is documented, and all parties sign stating they agree. Whatever issues are left, if any, can be brought to the courts for decisions.
Mediation after the divorce is final is also invaluable, as life changes fast, and what may have made sense originally in the settlement agreement may no longer make sense. This is especially prevalent when children are involved. As children mature, their needs change, so child support may change, or logistics may make the current custody arrangement invalid.
What Important Topics Should I Consider Before Deciding on Which Divorce to Pursue?
Sometimes, an uncontested divorce can make the most sense for both parties. Suppose you have agreed to dissolve the marriage and can amicably discuss the necessary division of assets and debts. In that case, you may be able to bypass the longer and more expensive route, which is a contested divorce, and resolve all issues with the assistance of a skilled mediator.
If physical abuse is present, a contested divorce may be your best and safest approach. If you are concerned that assets may be hidden or other financial indiscretions may be made to leave you in financial distress, a contested divorce would be a better option since you can conduct necessary discovery.
It is important to note that Californian is a community property state. This means that assets incurred during the marriage or debts incurred will be divided equally between parties during a divorce. Assets can include real estate, retirement accounts, and personal property such as cars, jewelry, etc. Debts can include credit cards, loans, mortgages, and more.
Mediation may be the best option if most of the critical topics are agreed upon, but a couple of items need more attention. Mediation can provide further agreement on issues so you can choose to pursue an uncontested divorce together and save time and money on dissolving the marriage. For example, you agree to dissolve the marriage and agree on custody and support issues, but you are unsure how to divide assets fairly. You can choose to engage in the mediation process to iron out the assets fairly and then pursue an uncontested divorce.
Can I Switch To Uncontested During the Process?
Some couples find that though their initial process was a contested divorce, they can agree on essential items. This may happen through negotiations, mediation, or a change of heart. Both parties can change direction and finalize their divorce without a trial, even if they started their case with animosity.
Tireless Advocates During Trying Times
We have helped endless clients with their divorce questions. Divorce can be challenging, but with the right experience, a collaborative divorce attorney or a divorce mediator can help you navigate the process and move forward with your life.
Contact our office today at (213) 351-1000 to learn how we can best assist you in your new chapter in life. Our office located at 3701 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 508, Los Angeles, CA 90010.