California Uncontested Divorce Service
Filing for divorce is not an easy decision. From deciding child custody to dividing the marital home, you will experience many emotions when going through a divorce. San Diego Esquire is here to guide you through the process. We provide flat fee uncontested divorce services to pro se litigants. We provide affordable default and uncontested divorce solutions to California residents.
Our flat fee uncontested divorce service starts at $1500 (payment plans are available). You are responsible for paying court filling fees (the $1500 fee includes process server fees). Sign up today to get started. Read on to learn more about how we can help you.
Steps to Complete California Uncontested Divorce
Frequently Asked Questions
Many states allow spouses to sue for divorce on the grounds of adultery, domestic abuse, or abandonment. California is a no-fault state, meaning that fault in the part of one of the spouses is not required for a court to grant a divorce.
The two no-fault grounds for divorce in California are:
- Irreconcilable Differences. Basically, this means that one or both parties have decided that they want to end the marriage.
- Incurable insanity. If one of the spouses has been determined by a medical professional to be mentally incompetent, and if the condition is deemed to be permanent, the other spouse may be granted a divorce.
To file for divorce in California, at least one of the spouses must be a resident of the state continuously for at least six months prior to the date of the filing. If it becomes an issue, residency may be proven with a California driver’s license, income tax returns showing California as the state of residence, job records, and bills addressed to the petitioner at a California address. At least one party must also have resided for at least three months in the county in which the divorce is filed. If neither party meets the residency requirements, they may file a petition for legal separation and divide their property while remaining legally married. A petition for divorce can then be filed once one of the parties has met the residency requirement.
Before filing for divorce or legal separation, see if you are eligible for a summary dissolution. A summary dissolution is simpler than a regular divorce and will also legally terminate the marriage. In order to be eligible for a summary dissolution, there a several criteria that must be met:
- The parties must have been married for less than five years.
- The parties must have no children together, either born or adopted, and must not be expecting a child.
- The parties must not own any real estate together, nor lease any property together (except a short-term lease on a joint residence).
- The parties must not owe more than $6,000 in joint debts, not counting car loans.
- The parties must not own more than $41,000 in marital property, and $41,000 in separate property.
- The parties must agree to permanently waive spousal support.
- The parties must have a written separation and property division agreement.
If all these requirements are met, the parties may file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution, along with a Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment and other required financial forms, with the Superior Court in the county in which one or both reside. The parties do not have to appear in court and will receive a final divorce after six months. If the parties do not qualify for summary dissolution, the divorce process begins by filing a petition for divorce with the Superior Court in which one or both spouses reside. The petition must include a summons to be served on the non-petitioning spouse, and a filing fee which will include a fee for service of process.
All petitioners must serve the other spouse with a Preliminary Disclosure listing their assets, liabilities, income and expenses. These forms do not need to be filed with the court, but a Declaration of Disclosure and a Declaration of Service of the disclosure must be filed with the petition. If the parties have children under the age of 18, a Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and a Child Custody and Visitation Application must also be attached to the petition.
Once the petition has been filed and served, the other spouse will have a period of thirty days from the date of service to file a response.
Once a spouse or domestic partner has been served with a petition for divorce, a response must be filed with the Superior Court within thirty days of the date of service. If no response is filed, the court may grant the divorce according to the terms in the petition. The parties may have already agreed to the divorce and all the issues involved, in which case no response is necessary.
Since California is a no-fault state, the responding party may not object to the divorce itself. The court has authority to grant a divorce if one of the parties wants to end the marriage, but property division, support, and custody issues may be contested. If there is any disagreement at all regarding division of property, spousal support, child custody or visitation, the responding party must file a response within the 30-day time period. The responding party must also complete a Preliminary Disclosure, and, if there are children under the age of 18, the UCCJEA declaration and Child Custody and Visitation Application must also be filed.
After a divorce petition and response have been filed, the process of discovery begins. For the court to determine how community property should be divided, whether spousal support is owed to either party, and how child custody and support should be handled, both parties must present evidence to support their positions.
The financial assets and liabilities of each party must be fully disclosed in order for a judge to distribute marital property fairly. Unfortunately, many spouses try to hide assets in order to obtain a better settlement. The discovery process is a way in which the parties may be compelled to produce the information needed to make a fair decision.
Although California law requires all marital property to be equally divided between the parties regardless of fault, evidence of adultery or domestic violence can be used to make determinations regarding child custody and visitation. Hiding assets or lying about one’s finances during the divorce process can also result in a monetary award to the innocent spouse. Discovery can be accomplished through several different avenues including the following:
- Interrogatories. Interrogatories are a series of formal questions which must be answered under oath, in writing. These may include questions about the party’s income, bank accounts, real estate and other property, and debts. If it is later determined that the party lied in an answer to an interrogatory, that party may be charged with perjury.
- Requests for Production of Documents. Common requests are for bank statements, income tax returns, deeds to properties owned by either party, credit card statements, leases, and insurance policies.
- Requests for Admission. Like interrogatories, requests for admission ask a party to admit or deny certain facts. Failure to answer a request for admission within the required amount of time can result in the court assuming the fact to be true. Lying on an answer can result in penalties for perjury, or monetary penalties, such as being required to pay attorney’s fees to the other spouse.
- Depositions. A deposition is an in-person session in which a party or that party’s attorney asks questions of the other party, or an unrelated party. The session is recorded by a court reporter, and the person being deposed is under oath. Questions must be relevant to the proceedings, and objections can be made if the person being deposed believes a question to be inappropriate.
Only after both parties have completed discovery can a date for a contested divorce hearing be set. Most divorce cases involve limited or no discovery, but when the parties have substantial assets, or there are allegations of abuse, adultery, or non-disclosure of assets, discovery may be extensive and lengthy.
Both parties in a divorce in California must exchange preliminary financial disclosures, unless the responding party fails to file and answer to the divorce petition, in which case the Respondent’s preliminary financial disclosures may be waived. In a petition for Summary Dissolution, only the petitioner needs to file a Preliminary Disclosure. Preliminary financial disclosures include a Schedule of Assets and Debts, an Income and Expense Declaration, and a Declaration of Disclosure. These documents are served on the other party in person, by mail, or by a private process server. A separate Declaration Regarding Service must be filed with the court.
When preparing a Preliminary Disclosure, keep in mind:
- Failure to disclose all known assets, debts, property and income will lead to penalties.
- Financial documents such as income tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, deeds to property, loan documents, stock portfolio statements, retirement account statements, life insurance policies, and other evidence of assets or debts must be attached to the Preliminary Disclosure. Income tax returns for the two years prior to the divorce are required.
Retirements benefits earned by either party during the marriage are considered marital property and are divided equally between the spouses. Retirement benefits accumulated prior to the marriage and after the parties separated are considered separate property. The ratio of time worked during the marriage versus the total time worked determines the percentage of retirement benefits that must be shared with the worker’s spouse. Once a value is established, spouse may receive a one-time payment, or may receive a percentage of the retired spouse’s benefits each month.
Whenever retirements benefits are divided as part of a divorce settlement or verdict a series of forms, including a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be completed and filed. The contents and form of the QDRO may vary according to the requirements of the particular benefit provider, so it is important to check with the benefit provider before presenting the QDRO to the court. Valuing retirement benefits and preparing a QDRO can be extremely complex and difficult and should be done by a professional.
Most uncontested divorces take less than one year to resolve. There is a mandatory six month waiting period from the date the respondent is served in which marital status can be terminated. Financial disclosures can take up to two months to complete depending on each party’s net worth. It is rare for uncontested divorces to take longer than one year to finalize.
No. Pro se litigants can complete the uncontested divorce process without an attorney. However, if you would like to ensure your documents are properly completed and issues are resolved in a timely manner, hire a California uncontested divorce lawyer.
A primary benefit of an uncontested divorce is saving thousands of dollars in attorney fees. Uncontested divorces often include lowered court costs, expert witness expenses, and attorney fees. Uncontested divorces are resolved quickly and allow each spouse to maintain control over the divorce instead of a judge. We provide a flat fee uncontested divorce solution for California residents. For $1500, we will prepare all of the forms you need to file for and obtain a divorce judgment. The fee also includes the drafting of a marital settlement agreement and child support or spousal support calculations and orders.
Uncontested Divorce w/Children
- $500 To Get Started
- Legal Document Preparation
- Marital Settlement Agreement
- Child Support & Spousal Support Calculation