Thinking about getting a divorce? Maybe you’re wondering if it’s really necessary to hire a divorce attorney. After all, the two of you are in agreement on everything and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for conflict or disagreement.
Simple answer, no.
When you and your spouse agree on all the issues that need resolving in your divorce, you don’t need to hire a divorce attorney.
An uncontested divorce is a much faster and less expensive route to go than a traditional one!
What are the Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in California?
California is known for its “uncontested divorces.” It has a simplified divorce procedure known as a summary dissolution.
Since there’s no need for a trial or multiple court appearances ending the marriage is quick and easy avoiding the hassle of going through the Court system.
But in order to qualify using a summary dissolution to end your marriage, you must first meet certain conditions:
- One spouse must have resided in the county where the divorce case is filed for at least three months and be a California resident for at least six months when it’s finalized (Cal. Fam. Code § 2320 (2021))
- Both spouses must be available to sign all necessary paperwork and must agree on all the settlement issues, including spousal support, property division, child support and custody.
If you meet these requirements then you can move on to the next step, creating your marital settlement agreement.
The settlement agreement must include:
- Division of all your property and debts;
- Alimony if applicable
- Child custody and support for any minor children. Please note that any agreement on child support must be in line with California’s child support guidelines.
Remember a settlement agreement is a legally binding contract between you and your spouse. You need to make sure the contents are clear and understood by the both of you, so there are no surprises down the road when it comes time for notarization.
Once the agreement is completed, initial paperwork needs to be filed with the Court to start the divorce process and be served upon the other spouse.
Keep in mind that in California, State law has a time requirement of six month for a divorce. It doesn’t just happen overnight. The six months begin when your spouse has been officially served.
Once the six months have passed and the terms have been negotiated, a California family law judge will review the case. If everything is in order and acceptable, the judge will sign an Order of Dissolution, which terminates the marriage.
Just make sure to finalize the terms between each other on every issue. A judge will not sign off on the divorce without the spouses providing proof that they have worked out all the relevant details of the dissolution.
Bottom line is this, if you and your spouse or significant other are in agreement of the terms, then a divorce lawyer is not necessary. However, if you think that there may be a potential for some disagreements down the line then it’s best to consult with an experienced family law attorney before deciding on anything final.