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Uncontested Divorce Lawyers in Fresno
If you and your spouse can agree on the issues, uncontested divorce can save you money, time, and stress, and you can complete your divorce without ever being forced to go to court. You must, however, still follow specific legal procedures, and it is important to have a knowledgeable Fresno uncontested divorce lawyer review your agreement to avoid any potential problems in the future. At Arnold Law Group, APC, we have helped many clients achieve favorable resolutions in divorce and family law matters.
Is uncontested divorce an option for you? Schedule a case evaluation to discuss your options with our firm!
Why Work with Arnold Law Group, APC?
Our Fresno divorce lawyers have more than 30 years of combined legal experience safeguarding the rights of our clients. We are a group of smart, dedicated, and talented family law attorneys who work together as a team on the cases we accept, producing the best possible results for our clients. During our initial meeting, we can gather information to develop a personalized strategy for each particular case, including an uncontested divorce.
We have thousands of clients with a high rate of satisfaction, many of whom chose this less costly option for marriage dissolution. Our firm does not make empty claims. We act on our word and can provide you with the high-quality representation you need in an uncontested divorce.
When you work with our firm, you will find us to be caring and assertive attorneys and highly professional in getting an uncontested divorce case resolved. This will allow you to move forward with your new life more quickly and efficiently.
Coming to an Agreement on All Terms of Your Divorce
A divorce is uncontested when you and your spouse agree on all terms. It is possible to start with a contested divorce and then switch to an uncontested divorce when you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement through mediation or negotiation. If court dates have already been scheduled, you should be able to cancel them when the negotiations are complete, and the divorce can be concluded with the more simple process of an uncontested divorce.
The various issues that may need to be agreed upon between the spouses in an uncontested divorce include:
- Property: Division of property, assets, and debts
- Money: Child support and spousal support
- Parenting: Child custody and visitation
Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, you still have to follow the same legal process under state law. This is required because marriage is a legally binding agreement that must be dissolved through legal channels. Although you and your spouse may have agreed to the dissolution of your marriage and the terms of the dissolution in writing, you are still married, financially responsible for each other, and unable to remarry until the marriage is officially ended.
How Do I File for an Uncontested Divorce in California?
In a divorce, the party that files to dissolve their marriage with the court is called the "petitioner," while the other party is the "respondent."
To file for an uncontested divorce, the petitioner must file various forms with their local family law court:
- Form FL-100. This form states the petitioner's intention to dissolve their marriage and includes basic information, such as where the parties were married, when, and the reason for the divorce.
- Form FL-110. This form summons the respondent to answer the petitioner's divorce petition. It also restricts actions the respondent can take, such as preventing them from moving out of state with any children they share with the petitioner.
- Form FL-160. This form states how the petitioner wishes to distribute their property with the respondent. California is a community property state, meaning that both parties own marital assets - property acquired during their marriage - equally.
Additionally, if the petitioner and respondent share children under the age of 18 or who are dependents, they must fill out:
- Form FL-105/GC-120. These forms indicate the petitioner's acknowledgment of and adherence to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
- Form FL-311. This form allows the petitioner to propose a parenting plan to the court dictating a child custody and timeshare arrangement the parents will engage in post-divorce.
The petitioner must make at least two copies of each form, after which they can file one set of copies with the court clerk.
After filing for divorce, the petitioner is responsible for serving the respondent with the divorce petition. A third-party individual over 18, such as a friend, relative, sheriff, or process server, must serve the respondent.
After the respondent receives the petition, they have 30 days to fill out and file a response with the court. In a default or uncontested divorce, the respondent can waive their right to respond or abstain from responding. This enables the court to move forward with the petition and finalize the divorce without conflict under the assumption the respondent agrees to the terms of the divorce established by the petitioner.
If the respondent disagrees with the terms proposed by the petitioner and chooses to file a divorce proposing alternative terms, the divorce will be contested, but it can still transition into an uncontested divorce if the parties reach an agreement later.
As we wrote earlier, to file for an uncontested divorce, the parties must agree on terms for the divorce. Typically, when a couple wants to file for an uncontested divorce, they draft an agreement containing the terms of their divorce before the petitioner files for divorce with the court. To finalize the agreement, both parties must sign it.
This way, the petitioner's original petition can include terms that both parties have agreed are fair and appropriate for their divorce, and the court can quickly finalize the divorce when the respondent chooses not to file a response or to waive their right to respond since they already have an agreement established with the petitioner.
If your spouse acts as the petitioner in your divorce case and files for divorce with the court, go over the petition they serve you with to ensure it follows the terms of the agreement you signed. Having a lawyer at your side as you draft an agreement with your spouse and choose whether to respond to the divorce petition is advised.
Should I Consider Mediating My Divorce?
Filing for an uncontested divorce has many benefits:
- It saves money. Divorces are notoriously expensive. Filing for a contested divorce streamlines the process by shortening how much time your case spends in court and how difficult it is to finalize your divorce.
- It saves time. A contested divorce can easily take more than a year to finalize, particularly if the parties disagree on details such as how to share custody or distribute property. Uncontested divorces often take significantly less time to resolve.
- It reduces stress. Disagreements with spouses are often a major source of stress for divorcees. Reaching an agreement with your spouse and filing for an uncontested divorce can help you achieve a result you're happy with and focus more on life post-divorce.
However, not everyone can agree on terms for an uncontested divorce easily. Using a method of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can help you negotiate fair terms for the dissolution of your marriage and ultimately file for an uncontested divorce. People commonly use two kinds of ADR to resolve their differences: Mediation and collaborative law. These processes happen outside the courtroom, and help parties draft an agreement for their uncontested divorce.
In mediation, the parties meet with a mediator who acts as a neutral third party. The parties may meet just once, but some mediation takes several meetings to resolve. The mediator acts as a liaison between the parties but cannot give them legal advice - you need to hire a mediation attorney to receive counsel during mediation.
Should I Consider Using Collaborative Law for My Divorce?
In collaborative law, each party chooses an attorney. There is no mediator. The parties and their attorneys then hold a series of meetings to discuss elements of the divorce, such as property division, child custody, alimony, etc.
Whether you use collaborative law or mediation to resolve your divorce, the end goal is the same: To negotiate terms with the other party that lead to the drafting and signing of a divorce agreement.
If you know from the outset that you want an uncontested divorce, you may choose to mediate or utilize collaborative law before filing for divorce. However, many courts and attorneys will suggest ADR to couples that initially file for a contested divorce.
If you can't fully resolve your differences using ADR, you must still file for a contested divorce.
Getting the Help You Need from Arnold Law Group, APC
The divorce process can be complicated and involves numerous forms and filings, as well as other documentation, based on your situation. Our seasoned Fresno uncontested divorce attorneys can guide you through the process, protect your interests, and help you pursue a favorable resolution to all issues in an uncontested divorce.
Contact our firm online or call us at (559) 900-1263 for high-quality professional assistance in an uncontested divorce.
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