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Online Divorce in California

Spouses filing for an uncontested divorce in California can reduce paperwork burdens by using DivorceOnline.com. This online divorce service helps its customers obtain all the necessary blank forms and complete them quickly and correctly.

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Uncontested Divorce in California

There are two main ways the marriage can be dissolved in California: contested and uncontested divorce.

  • A contested divorce occurs when the spouses are not willing to negotiate any or all of the terms of their split (property division, finances, child-related issues, grounds for divorce, etc.) and cannot resolve their disputes out of court. Contested divorces bound for litigation tend to be more complicated, costly, and take longer.
  • An uncontested divorce means that the spouses agree about how to resolve critical terms of their separation, like child custody, spousal support, retirement accounts, property division, and more.

To have an uncontested divorce, which is typically more affordable and quick, the parties must submit a Settlement Agreement to the court. Thus, the judge does not decide any matters but approves the couple's contract as long as it is fair and reasonable.

California Marital Settlement Agreement terms become legally binding after the judge issues a final judgment of divorce.

Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online

Divorce Online is a convenient tool to get rid of paperwork and prepare for a divorce process as fast as possible.

Although this online divorce service cannot provide legal advice for a contested case, couples attempting an uncontested divorce can save time and money by using it to complete their divorce documents.

Each divorce case requires proper paperwork, no matter how simple. If there is even a single mistake in the divorce forms, the court may reject them.

DivorceOnline.com helps its customers avoid such a risk.

Taking advantage of this online divorce paperwork preparation service, you can obtain your completed divorce forms for $139.

All you need to do is answer the online interview questions and provide us with the case details. This information will help select the relevant divorce papers and fill them out according to California laws and specific county requirements.

Your divorce paperwork will be ready in only two business days, and you will get step-by-step written instructions concerning the filing process.

The aim of DivorceOnline.com is not to sell blank forms but to give our customers a tool to complete them without a hassle.

Steps for Filing a Divorce in California

The California divorce process includes the following consecutive steps.

The couple must meet residency requirements to file for divorce.

According to California Family Law, at least one of the spouses must have resided in California for at least six months and lived in the county where the proceeding is filed for the last three months.

When filing for divorce, the spouse who initiates the case fills out a Petition. This initial divorce form must contain a legal ground for dissolution of the marriage, chosen among those provided by the Family Law.

California is a no-fault divorce state. Therefore, in a divorce petition, neither spouse has to specify the other party's marital misconduct like cruel treatment, adultery, drug addiction, desertion, etc. California courts do not consider these details in the divorce judgment.

Valid grounds for divorce provided for by California Family Code include:

  • Irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage. Any circumstances from disagreements about the property, finances, or child-related issues the spouses cannot resolve to adultery, abandonment, etc., fall within the definition of "irreconcilable differences."
  • Permanent legal incapacity to make decisions (including incurable insanity). This ground for divorce must be proven by competent medical or psychiatric testimony so that the court considers it valid.

A divorce starts with a plaintiff filing a divorce petition and other initial divorce forms with a local court in the county where either spouse resides.

In California, family law cases, including dissolution of marriage, are handled by the Family Division of Superior Court.

Divorce Papers in California

Basic legal forms to file for divorce in California include:

  • Petition (Family Law)
  • Summons
  • Proof of Service of Summons

However, depending on the county and various circumstances of a particular couple, additional California divorce forms may be required.

If you are unsure which divorce documents are necessary in your case and do not want to grapple with paperwork on your own, you can enjoy the DivorceOnline simple online questionnaire.

This straightforward and affordable online divorce tool does not provide blank forms.

Instead, you can select and complete your unique divorce forms according to Family Law and California court rules and receive court filing instructions.

Filing Fees

When the plaintiff files their divorce papers with the Court Clerk's Office, they must pay a filing fee. This court fee is mandatory unless the plaintiff is eligible for a fee waiver (for example, is on public benefits, has a low income, and cannot afford the filing fee).

In California, the court filing fee is $435. However, this amount may vary slightly by county.

The exact court fees are available at the California Courts government website.

Waiting Period

California Family Law provides for a mandatory six-month waiting period.

Therefore, even an amicable divorce process cannot take less than six months from the date of service of divorce papers or the date the respondent makes an appearance, whichever occurs first.

The filing spouse must make at least two copies of all completed divorce papers. The original is for the court; one copy will be for a plaintiff and another for the defendant.

Then, the plaintiff must serve divorce papers on their spouse. This is called the "service process," and the server (the person delivering the papers to the defendant by certified mail or in person) can be a:

  • Friend or relative (any adult person who is not involved in the case);
  • County sheriff;
  • Professional process server.

The process of serving California divorce papers must be confirmed by a Proof of Service of Summons, filed with the court by the server.

After the serving process, the spouses have to file the rest of the divorce papers. A contested divorce typically involves several hearings to resolve many issues, including ordering spousal support, dividing community property, etc. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses must write up a settlement agreement (stipulated judgment).

Either spouse must file the signed and notarized stipulated judgment to the court along with other final divorce forms, including but not limited to:

  • Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation
  • Judgment
  • Notice of Entry of Judgment
  • Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (or the Waiver of Final Declaration of Disclosure).

When all the divorce documents required in a particular case are reviewed and filed with the Court Clerk, the judge can consider the spouses' agreement.

If it is fair and all the papers are completed correctly, the judge will issue a divorce decree. California laws do not require the parties to appear in court for an uncontested divorce.

Getting a Divorce With Children

In California, divorcing spouses are required to create a parenting plan for their minor children, considering both legal and physical custody matters:

  • Legal custody refers to authority in making important decisions for the child (like health care, education, and upbringing).
  • Physical custody determines with whom the child lives.

Parents can share both legal and physical custody, or child custody can be sole (awarded to just one parent). Often, a court grants a combination of joint and sole custody, for example, with one parent having sole physical custody of a child but both parents having joint legal custody.

In an uncontested divorce, the spouses should agree on child custody and child support orders they want out of court.

They can attach their settlement agreement to the judgment form and/or use some of the following documents to work out the terms of their judgment:

  • Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Order Attachment
  • Supervised Visitation Order
  • Child Abduction Prevention Order Attachment
  • Children’s Holiday Schedule Attachment
  • Joint Legal Custody Attachment
  • Child Support Information and Order Attachment
  • Child Support Case Registry Form

If the divorcing spouses cannot agree on parenting arrangements, the court will decide at its discretion, but based on what is in the "best interest of the child." To determine what is best for a child in each particular divorce case, the court considers the following factors:

  • The child's health, safety, and welfare
  • Both parents' physical health, their emotional and mental stability
  • The emotional ties between the parents and the child
  • The ability of the parents to care for the child
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse
  • The child's adjustment to the school, home, community, etc.

The amount of child support shall be estimated based on California Child Support Guidelines and considering multiple factors, including each parent's earning capacity and income, the number of children, current custody arrangement, health insurance expenses, and others. To calculate the exact amount which would be fair for a particular divorce case, the spouses can use California Guideline Child Support Calculator. The resulting amount is presumed to be correct in the majority of cases.

Filing for Divorce in California Without a Lawyer

An uncontested divorce not only takes less time but also allows lower costs.

  • California divorce procedure does not require the parties to be represented by a full-scope attorney. Instead, the spouses may resort to alternative dispute resolution, for example, divorce mediation. A qualified mediator is a neutral third party who facilitates the spouses' negotiations, helping them achieve a fair settlement.
  • In addition, if they need specific advice on some issue of their case, they may consider limited scope legal representation.
  • And with the help of DivorceOnline.com, the spouses can prepare all the necessary completed divorce paperwork without a hassle.

Do-It-Yourself Divorce in California

A DIY divorce is a divorce process where a person chooses to represent themselves before the court rather than hiring an attorney as their representative. Such an approach is allowed in California, and it can be a beneficial solution for an amicable divorce.

However, in a DIY divorce, the parties take full responsibility for divorce paperwork and completing the filing process, which can be tricky for people without proper experience.

To avoid delays in the case, you should be well aware of your particular legal rights, family laws, court rules, and deadlines, or just use a high-quality online divorce service.

DivorceOnline.com provides a seamless and affordable way to complete all the required divorce forms authorized by the California Judicial Council without leaving home.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

The minimum length for a California divorce is determined by a mandatory waiting period. So no divorce can be finalized until six months after the service of process.

The average length of divorce from filing to finalization typically takes about 15 months. Still, the uncontested divorce process can be relatively fast and straightforward.

The cost of any dissolution of marriage in California starts with filing fees charged when filing for divorce. However, the other expenses are hard to predict.

They vary significantly depending on the type of divorce proceeding and the services chosen. The average cost of divorce in California is about $17,000, and legal fees typically amount to the bulk of that amount.

On average, uncontested divorces are cheaper than contested ones, and the spouses may reduce the costs by handling paperwork with the help of online divorce instead of hiring an attorney.

The couple may attempt a DIY divorce and avoid legal fees to reduce the cost of the procedure. Besides, if a person cannot afford to pay a filing fee and can prove it by providing information about their private financial resources, they can ask for a fee waiver.

For that, a plaintiff must fill out the Request to Waive Court Fees form, sign the request under penalty of perjury, and submit their fee waiver to the clerk.

To get a divorce in California, the spouses must file a Petition (Family Law), Summons, Proof of Service of Summons, and some final divorce forms depending on their case details.

California online divorce assistance service DivorceOnline.com can help you save money and time if you do not want to grapple with paperwork by yourself.