The Difference Between Default, Uncontested, & Contested Divorce
This article will help familiarize you with the difference between a default, uncontested, and contested divorce. Read each divorce type to determine if your divorce will be completed as a default or uncontested matter.
Default Divorce Overview
A true default divorce occurs when the respondent chooses not to respond to the divorce petition (Form FL 120). In a “true” default case, the respondent gives up his/her rights to contest any request the petitioner makes. The respondent should review the court documents carefully before agreeing to not file a response in the case.
As the respondent in a divorce (example – the party who did not file the initial petition for dissolution to marriage and is required to provide a response), if you do not choose to respond to the divorce, you can still work out an agreement with your spouse. The marital settlement agreement should reflect that you both want to terminate your marital status, how you will divide debts and assets, whether a spouse will receive spousal support and for how long, and what child support and custody orders either parent may need. Both parties should discuss the agreement with independent legal counsel before signing.
If the petitioner is unable to obtain a response out of the respondent, then the petitioner will need to complete additional documents to obtain a default divorce judgment.
California Uncontested Divorce Overview
In an uncontested divorce, the respondent will respond to the petition by filling FL 120 and any accompanying forms. The respondent can file FL 120 and work out an agreement with his/her spouse. The respondent only has 30 days to respond to the divorce. The response must be filed with the court and served on the petitioner within 30 days after being served with the Petition for Dissolution (FL 100) and Summons (FL 110).
Contested Divorce Overview
A contested divorce occurs when both parties cannot agree to one of the following in a divorce: spousal support, child custody and visitation, or how to divide debts and assets. Parties should consider meditation to resolve legal issues before litigating the matter in court. Litigating issues are expensive and can result in a resolution neither party likes.
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