Divorce is more than just a word. It is the destroyer of many families. Divorce doesn’t just separate a husband and wife. It also tears innocent children, who had no fault in the separation, away from their moms and dads. There can be lots of different reasons that a divorce may take place. Sometimes there is no other choice for the sake of the mental health of all people involved.
When divorce is inevitable, every case is unique, and there are many different options for each couple to get through the process of divorce. In some cases, divorce can be easy, allowing you to quickly focus on being happy again in your new life. In others, it can be a long and difficult nightmare that only prolongs the grief and sorrow.
California is one of the biggest states in the USA, and like all states, there are multiple options for married couples to take to dissolve their marriage. In this article, we are going to look at some of the most common types of divorce.
California was the first state to change its laws to allow estranged couples to opt out of their marriage without having any major or valid allegation against their partner. The Family Law Act of 1969 abolished California’s action for divorce and replaced it with a proceeding for dissolution of marriage on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, legally allowing couples to have a no-fault divorce.
Irreconcilable differences basically just means that the couple no longer gets along and is unable to fix their marriage. As long as both spouses agree that they want the marriage to end, by using a no-fault divorce, neither spouse will have to prove the fault of the other or present any evidence to the court.
Since California passed its no-fault divorce law, the rest of the 49 states have followed suit, also allowing a no-fault option for divorce. Unlike many other states, however, that also continue to recognize fault based grounds, such as desertion, adultery, and mental or even physical cruelty, California is now strictly a no-fault state.
An uncontested divorce is when both of the partners in the marriage reach a mutual agreement related to all the different aspects of their divorce. To reach an agreement on all the terms of the divorce, the couple needs to be able to calmly discuss all the issues and make a mutually beneficial decision on how to settle them. Issues can include the division of poverty, the division of assets and debts, child custody and visitation rights, as well as child support and spousal maintenance, if any.
The advantage of an uncontested divorce is that so long as the settlement agreement is fair and meets the children’s best interests, it will be approved by a judge without any need for a trial or multiple court hearings.
Since the legal side of the process is limited, the couple will even have the option to complete their divorce without the expense costs of legal representation. Getting a divorce in California without an attorney is perfectly legal, and very cost efficient. Attorneys usually charge by the hour and their fees can run from $1500 for a simple divorce up to $30,000 or more for each spouse in a contested case that involves a lengthy court trial.
The most difficult part of an uncontested divorce is often the paperwork. For couples wanting to do a DIY divorce to save the most money, forms can be downloaded from the California court website and completed with the assistance of the California self-help center.
For couples that don’t want the hassle of the paperwork, they can pay an attorney to assist them with their documents, or they can go with an online divorce company for a much lower cost. Online divorce sites will select and complete all of the necessary forms for your specific case at a very affordable price. Getting your paperwork done online can take as little as 2 days or less. You just have to download your divorce paperwork kit, sign the forms, and file them at the courthouse.
Simplified Divorce (also known as Summary Dissolution)
California Divorce Law allows for a simplified type of divorce known as Summary Dissolution. The advantage of a summary dissolution is that the divorce can be finalized in the quickest possible terms without the couple even having to attend a single court hearing.
To qualify for a summary dissolution, the couple must meet certain requirements:
- As in any case, the couple will have to meet the state residency requirements. California requires that one spouse be a resident of the state for at least 6 months and a resident of the county where the divorce will take place for at least 3 months.
- The grounds for divorce must be “irreconcilable differences”.
- The spouses must have been married for less than 5 years.
- The couple must not have any minor children, and the wife cannot be pregnant.
- Neither spouse can have real property.
- The couple must have a settlement agreement in place for the distribution of any assets and debts.
- The couple can have no unpaid debts that are greater than $6,000, besides car notes, and their combined assets cannot total more than $45,000.
- Neither spouse can be seeking alimony.
If the couple meets all of these requirements to file for a summary divorce, the couple will have to complete the paperwork together (alone, with the help of an attorney, or using an online divorce site) and file a joint petition along with their settlement agreement. The court will issue a judgment of dissolution and notice of entry of judgment that will list your date of divorce as six months after the date you filed for summary dissolution. You can not remarry until the judge issues the dissolution and notice of entry.
Collaborative divorce is similar to uncontested divorce, but it is designed for couples that want an amicable end to their marriage, but are not able to handle the emotions and stress associated with sitting down together with their former partner to decide on the terms of their divorce. To assist them with the process of arranging a settlement agreement, the couple relies on a team of professionals which can include lawyers trained in collaborative law, financial specialists, communication coaches, and child specialists.
The collaboration team will assist the couple in arranging a fair agreement that is acceptable to both sides. The terms are then drafted into a formal agreement by an attorney and signed by both parties. The couple can then move forward with an uncontested divorce.
Even though the experts used to assist in the process of collaborative divorce will cost money, this option is still less costly compared to a normal contested divorce. And since the couple has the ultimate say in the terms of the divorce, without relying on a judge or a heated court trial, it allows the couple to move on from the divorce with less hard feelings.
One of the most common divorce strategies for couples that have issues they are unable to resolve is divorce mediation. Mediation is when both sides work together with a neutral third party (known as a mediator) to hammer out an acceptable resolution for any unsettled issues. The mediator is a professional that is trained to not take sides and not make decisions for the couple, but rather guide the couple and help them see the benefits of a compromise. These issues can include child custody, property division, and maintenance.
Mediation is a non-binding, voluntary process in which both the partners need to agree upon the terms and conditions together. Upon reaching an agreement on any remaining uncontested issues, they will then be able to move forward with an uncontested divorce.
The cost of a mediator usually runs around $1000 per session. In many cases, one session is enough to settle any differences. But in some cases, it can take as many as two or three sessions. In any case, mediation is definitely a much cheaper option then moving forward with a contested divorce and having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an attorney for a lengthy divorce trial.
In California, a limited divorce is similar to legal separation. Like a regular divorce, a limited divorce is supervised by the court. This option allows the couple to arrange the division of their debts, assets, and property, and settle all issues related to child custody and child support without officially getting divorced.
During this period, the couple is required to live separately and is asked not to have sexual relations with any other people. It’s basically just a divorce from bed and board. There are lots of reasons that a couple may choose to separate but remain married, including religious reasons, financial reasons, tax benefits, and even the hope that someday they can reconcile their differences.
Understanding all of the different options will definitely help you to best handle your divorce and avoid unnecessary costs. If you are still unsure of the best option for you or just want the extra guidance to avoid any bumps in the road, it can be a huge advantage to discuss the situation with an experienced divorce attorney.