While there are a few different ways to describe and categorize the various methods of getting a divorce in California, in the broadest terms, a divorce can either be “contested” or “uncontested.” In a contested divorce, the spouses go to court and present arguments to a judge who then renders a binding decision. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses work through the divorce process amicably, and then they submit a marital settlement agreement to the court for the judge’s approval.
But, even here, some further clarification is required. First, in order to pursue an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse do not need to be in complete agreement from the outset. In fact, the substantial majority of uncontested divorces involve settlement negotiations.
Second, initiating a contested or uncontested divorce does not lock you into one particular path. Many divorces that start out contested end up being resolved via settlement; and, in some cases, spouses who initially pursue an uncontested divorce find that they have no choice but to resort to divorce litigation.
What Do California Spouses Need to Know about Uncontested Divorce?
If you are preparing to go through a divorce and think that an uncontested divorce might be your best option, what else do you need to know about the uncontested divorce process? Here is an overview of some pros and cons:
What are the Pros of an Uncontested Divorce?
Pro #1: It Saves Time.
Uncontested divorces will almost invariably be quicker than contested divorces. Why? Because, even if it takes you and your spouse a while to negotiate your property division, financial support, and parenting plan arrangements, the amount of time it takes will still pale in comparison to the amount of time it would take you to litigate these issues in court. As long as you and your spouse stay motivated and stay on track, an uncontested divorce will be the most efficient way to end your marriage.
Pro #2: It Saves Money.
Getting an uncontested divorce also saves money. Litigating a divorce can be expensive; and, while there are steps your divorce lawyer can take to help keep the costs down, many of the costs associated with divorce litigation are simply unavoidable. In contrast, with an uncontested divorce, the efficiencies involved mean that the costs remain in control as well, and you have more flexibility to address issues such as tax planning which can provide financial savings for you and your spouse.
Pro #3: It Avoids Hostility.
Litigating a contentious divorce can breed hostility that lasts long after the judge issues an order dissolving your marriage. This can create additional challenges post-divorce, especially if you and your spouse have minor children.
Pro #4: It Gives You Options.
During an uncontested divorce, spouses can work together to consider flexible and creative alternatives that meet both of their respective needs. The more willing you and your spouse are to work together (even if you have competing goals), the more likely you are to find a solution that works for both of you.
Pro #5: It Gives You Control.
Finally, pursuing an uncontested divorce gives you control over the final outcome. Instead of a judge deciding the terms of your divorce for you, you and your spouse will be able to finalize a settlement once you are both satisfied with the terms you have negotiated.
What are the Cons of an Uncontested Divorce?
If those are the pros of an uncontested divorce, then what are the cons? The truth is, if you approach your uncontested divorce the right way and rely on the advice and guidance of an experienced attorney, there really aren’t any. However, if you try to work through an uncontested divorce on your own without the benefit of legal advice, then some potential drawbacks include:
Con #1 Overlooking issues
If you pursue an uncontested divorce without an attorney, you might overlook issues that need to be addressed.
Con #2: Post-Divorce Complications
If you overlook issues and your marital settlement agreement is incomplete, this can lead to challenging complications post-divorce.
Con #3: Unenforceable Settlement Terms
In California, there are rules regarding the enforceability of marital settlement agreements and the terms to which spouses can agree regarding things like child support and parenting time. If you negotiate an unenforceable agreement, this will draw out the process and force you and your spouse to renegotiate the terms of your divorce.
Request an Appointment with North County, CA Divorce Attorney Richard M. Renkin
If you would like more information about the benefits of an uncontested divorce in California, we encourage you to get in touch. To request an appointment with North County, CA divorce attorney Richard M. Renkin, please call 888-837-3564 or inquire online today.