The Uncontested Divorce Process in California

Spouses can choose to agree to divorce terms and make life a whole lot easier. Here’s how to get an uncontested divorce in California.

To get an uncontested divorce in California, you and your spouse must first reach a divorce agreement. Then one of you must file and serve the initial divorce papers, and the other can file and serve the uncontested response. Then submit the divorce agreement to a judge for approval.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which the responding spouse agrees to the petitioning spouse’s terms of divorce. Typically in uncontested divorces, spouses agree to terms before filing for divorce. All divorce disputes, including property division, child custody, spousal support, and child support are resolved in a divorce agreement before filing. This can save both spouses time, money, and stress.

Reach A Divorce Agreement With Your Spouse

The most important part of an uncontested divorce is both spouses reaching mutually satisfactory divorce terms before filing. This way, the responding spouse agrees to the divorce terms requested in the petition for divorce. This can make the entire divorce process much easier, faster, and cheaper. There are a few ways in which spouses can reach a divorce agreement before filing or responding to divorce papers.

Mediation

Many spouses go to mediation to reach a divorce agreement and have an uncontested divorce. In divorce mediation, a neutral, third-party mediator helps spouses reach a mutually satisfactory divorce settlement. An experienced divorce mediator can help guide and facilitate productive discussion. If you’re looking for a divorce mediator that can help you and your spouse reach a divorce agreement, contact us.

Once you’ve discussed and settled divorce terms in mediation, have an attorney draft your final divorce agreement. As this agreement may eventually be signed by a judge and made legally enforceable, this divorce agreement should clearly and thoroughly state the terms of your divorce. Contact us if you’re looking for a skilled uncontested divorce attorney to draft your divorce agreement.

Collaborative Divorce

You and your spouse can also reach a divorce agreement through a collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses negotiate divorce terms with their respective divorce attorneys present. Spouses in a collaborative divorce want to reach a fair divorce agreement, but seek to also protect their legal rights. If you’re looking for a lawyer to represent you in collaborative divorce, get in touch with one of our skilled divorce attorneys for women.

Complete, File, and Serve the Divorce Papers

After reaching a divorce agreement, either you or your spouse will file for divorce. The spouse that seeks to end the marriage will likely file the petition. Otherwise, spouses can discuss and speak with their lawyers to determine who should file the petition for divorce. For more information on how to start a divorce in California, click here.

If additional space is needed to list assets and debts, complete and file this form as well:

If you and your spouse have children together, you should fill out this form as well:

  • Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105/GC-120)
  • Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Application Attachment (Form FL-311)

Get these forms reviewed by an attorney before filing. After copying two of each form, take the forms to your local court and file them with the court clerk. Then, serve one set of stamped copies to your former spouse, and include the following blank forms in your service for them to fill out:

  • Response — Marriage/Domestic Partnership (Form FL-120)
  • Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105/GC-120) [if you and your spouse have children together]

For more information on how to serve divorce papers in California, click here.

Responding to the Divorce Papers

After you’ve filed and served the initial divorce papers, you or your spouse have two options:

File An Uncontested Response

In an uncontested response, the responding spouse formally agrees to the divorce terms requested by the petitioning spouse and also maintains their right to negotiate divorce terms in court (if ever need be). If you file an uncontested response, you’re legally agreeing to the divorce terms you already settled with your spouse, but also protecting your legal rights in court proceedings.

Default With Agreement

If a spouse has reached a divorce agreement, he or she can choose not to respond to the divorce petition at all, thereby agreeing to the divorce terms. If a spouse does so, he or she loses their right to speak in court about their divorce. They’re essentially forfeiting their right to participate in the case, as they are decreeing they’re okay with any terms the petitioner puts forward. For more information on how to respond to divorce papers in California, click here.

File the Uncontested Divorce Forms

If you’ve decided to respond to the divorce papers, file a:

  • Response — Marriage\Domestic Partnership (Form FL-120)

In your response, you can agree to the divorce terms. The way you fill out this Response will greatly impact your divorce, so make sure to consult a divorce attorney before filing. Then, file the completed response forms with your local court clerk and serve a copied set of these forms to your spouse. Depending on your circumstances, there may be other papers you need to file as well. Contact one of our experienced uncontested divorce lawyers to properly handle your divorce.

Fill Out and File the Final Forms

After the response has been filed, either the petitioning or responding spouse must file these forms:

  • Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers (Form FL-130)
  • Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation (Form FL-170)
  • Judgment (Form FL-180)
  • Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form FL-190)
  • Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-141) OR Stipulation and Waiver of Final Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-144)

If you or your spouse is requesting a custody order, you may need to complete and attach these forms to the Judgment (Form FL-180):

If you or your spouse is requesting child support, you may need to complete and attach these forms to the Judgment (Form FL-180):

  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150) OR Financial Statement (Form FL-155)
  • Child Support Case Registry Form (Form FL-191);
  • Notice of Rights and Responsibilities — Health-Care Costs and Reimbursement Procedures and Information Sheet on Changing a Child Support Order (Form FL-192)
  • Child Support Information and Order Attachment (Form FL-342)

If you or your spouse is requesting spousal support, you may need to complete and attach these forms to the Judgment (Form FL-180):

If you or your spouse is requesting an order relating to community property or debt, you may need to complete these forms and attach them to the Judgment (Form FL-180) as well:

Get these forms reviewed by an attorney before filing.

Complete the Final Declaration of Disclosure

You and your spouse can agree to skip the final declaration of disclosure. Filing spouses do not have to complete the declaration of disclosure if they do not have a written, notarized divorce agreement, or if the other spouse never responded to the petition for divorce.

To complete the final declaration of disclosure, you’ll need to complete and these papers to your spouse:

  • Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-140)
  • Schedule of Assets and Debts (Form FL-142) OR Property Declaration (Form FL-160)
  • Stipulation and Waiver of Final Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-144)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
  • A written note listing and explaining assets, debts, and investments

Have an attorney review these forms to make sure they are properly completed,.

Get the Final Divorce Decree

After each spouse has filed and responded to their divorce papers, a judge may hold a court hearing to either approve or reject the couple’s divorce terms. Uncontested divorces are typically handled and completed without ever needing a court hearing. If a spouse filed an uncontested response, there is typically no reason for the judge to reject the divorce petition. A judge may decree a dissolution of marriage judgment, finalizing your divorce.

FAQs About Getting a No Contest/Uncontested Divorce in California

Do I have to go to court for an uncontested divorce?

If your divorce is uncontested you may not have to appear in court. You and your spouse can reach a divorce agreement outside of court, then submit it to a judge for approval.

How long does an uncontested divorce in California take?

No contest divorces take at least six months to process. All divorces in California, including uncontested divorces, have a mandatory six-month wait period to process.

How much does an uncontested divorce cost in California?

In total, an uncontested divorce costs a $435 filing fee. If you or your spouse hired a mediator or attorney, the cost of your uncontested divorce will add up.

Contact Us

If you want to get an uncontested divorce and need a lawyer, contact us. We’ll get you in touch with the most qualified attorney for your specific legal matter. Your first consultation is free. We’re here to help you 24/7.