What Is the Simplest Path to Divorce in CA?

Completing a summary dissolution or uncontested divorce in mediation is the simplest way to end a marriage in California. This way, spouses agree on each element of their agreement instead of letting a court make the important decisions for them.

Here are the basic steps to an uncontested divorce process:

  1. Make sure you meet the residency requirement in California before filing for divorce. At least one spouse needs to have lived in California for at least six months and in the filing county for at least three months.
  2. Talk with your spouse about the important details, like child support agreements. You both can meet with a professional mediator to finalize these agreements. If tension increases, save the challenging conversations for mediation — there’s no pressure to do everything on your own.
  3. Fill out divorce papers. If you choose to litigate, one spouse must file papers with the court and then give a copy to the non-filing spouse. If you choose to mediate, your mediator will help you file your documents jointly and notify the court of your intention to mediate and stay out of court.
  4. Finalize and complete the divorce. In litigation, this can mean court hearings on the court’s schedule and a judge making the final decisions. In mediation, you never go to court, you can schedule meetings with your mediator at your convenience, and make all final decisions yourselves.
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Tips for simplifying the divorce process in CA

Here are some smart ways to make divorce in California as peaceful as possible for everyone involved.

1. Know the basics

It’s helpful to know a little about how divorce works in California.

Firstly, California is a no-fault divorce state, so one spouse doesn’t need to be legally at fault for it to proceed.

2. Opt for mediation

Mediation involves talking things out guided by a mediator who doesn’t take sides. It saves time and money, prevents unnecessary emotional strain, and helps parents establish an effective parenting schedule. Parenting plans made in mediation create a foundation for healthy co-parenting.

An Aurit Center Certified Mediator will help you and your spouse agree on how you’ll each spend time with your children and all other matters as well.

3. Get your personal documents and financial documents ready

Disagreements about money can make divorce tricky. So, gathering information from all your legal and financial documents beforehand is helpful. Determine how much money you have in the bank, what you own, and what you owe. This makes things as clear as possible and helps you and your spouse reach decisions about property division, including marital property and separate assets.

4. Talk clearly and kindly

Talking about things clearly and kindly, even when it’s hard, can really help. This can make agreeing on divorce matters much easier. A professional divorce mediator can help you and your spouse to have respectful and productive conversations.

5. Use helpful websites

The California court system website has a lot of helpful information, including what divorce forms will likely be filed during your process. The Aurit Center has many useful divorce resources and co-parenting guides also.

Doing a little research can make the divorce much easier, as you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.

6. Make it a collaborative process

Filing your divorce petition together makes things simpler and quicker.

How to manage disagreements

Sometimes, spouses don’t agree on everything at first. That’s okay and expected. Your mediator will guide you through your discussions to keep your divorce proceedings peaceful and keep conflict low.

In mediation, you and your spouse can go through your divorce peacefully and with minimal conflict.

Using an uncontested divorce or a summary dissolution to keep things simple

A summary dissolution or uncontested divorce is much simpler than a contested divorce in California. In this section, we’ll explore how these options work and explain how mediation can make your divorce as simple as possible.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties agree on all the big questions related to their divorce, and they don’t need a judge to make decisions for them.

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Who can file this way?

You can file for an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse agree on all the necessary details. You need to decide on money, community property, separate property, and arrangements related to your children. You must also follow the minimum waiting period requirement.

Steps for pursuing an uncontested divorce

Here are the seven steps to an uncontested divorce:

1. Make sure you are eligible for an uncontested divorce

The first step is to confirm that you and your spouse are eligible for this type of divorce. The same rules apply for same-sex spouses.

2. Submit your papers

Fill out the necessary court papers for a collaborative divorce and submit them to the court. These papers will contain details about your marriage and what you’ve agreed on regarding your separation. In mediation, your mediator will file these on your behalf to simplify the process for you even more.

3. Make sure you both have access to these filings

After you’ve filed your papers at the court, you need to officially give them to your spouse — unless you are mediating your divorce, in which your mediator will help you both file a joint petition. There are rules and requirements throughout your process, so do your research to make sure each step is done correctly.

4. File a response

Your spouse has 30 days to respond. If they don’t answer, the divorce continues regardless. In mediation, you will not serve your spouse with papers, so you will not need to wait for a response.

5. Agree with your spouse on key issues

Talk with your spouse and come to a separation agreement if you’d like a quick divorce. Cover all the important details related to your separation. These include:

  • how to divide your assets, real estate, and sentimental items;
  • dealing with any money you owe;
  • managing personal documents;
  • approaching your next set of tax returns and your existing insurance policies; and
  • if you have minor children, how you’ll support and take care of them.

These are the most important divorce terms. If you choose mediation, your mediator can help you work through all aspects of your divorce together with your spouse.

6. Complete your divorce

Your divorce mediator will give the court your final papers showing your agreement. The court will then review them to make sure all the arrangements are written correctly.

7. Finalization

The court will approve your agreements finalizing your divorce decree. In California, if you choose a summary divorce, you’ll be required to wait six months after your spouse gets the divorce papers before it can become official.

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What is a summary dissolution?

A summary dissolution is an alternative method of divorce. It’s quicker and easier than litigation because there’s less divorce paperwork— and your mediator can help you with these filings. There’s also no court hearing as long as you and your spouse follow the proper steps, described below, and agree on all your divorce-related matters.

Who can file this way?

To qualify for a summary dissolution, you and your spouse need to:

  • be in agreement about ending your marriage;
  • have been married for less than five years;
  • own little personal property and have minimal debt;
  • have no minor children together; and
  • want to end the marriage without alimony.

Steps for filing a summary dissolution

Here’s a step-by-step guide to filing a summary dissolution:

  1. Confirm that you qualify: Make sure you meet all the qualifications, listed above, for a summary dissolution. Your mediator can help you understand whether you qualify.
  2. Reach agreement with your spouse: You and your spouse will need to agree on all divorce-related arrangements. Your mediator will help you finalize your agreements and any details needed for your documentation.
  3. Fill out the forms: Complete the summary dissolution forms and any additional forms required by California Courts. In mediation, you and your spouse file these forms together with the support of your mediator.
  4. File your forms: Submit your forms to the court and pay the filing fee, if there is one.
  5. Wait: After you file, there’s a mandatory six-month waiting period. If you and your spouse remain in agreement, follow the guidelines, and all documents are properly prepared, your divorce can be finalized by the court.

How mediation simplifies the path to divorce in CA

Mediation can make getting a divorce in California much simpler and less stressful. It allows spouses to talk about and resolve their disagreements in a supportive, collaborative environment.

Benefits of mediation

Mediation simplifies divorce in the following ways:

  • Reduces stress: Going to court can be stressful. Mediation meetings can happen online in a calmer, relaxed setting of your choice, making it easier to talk openly.
  • Saves time: Mediation can solve problems faster than the courts can. At The Aurit Center, most spouses complete their mediation process within two to four 2-hour meetings.
  • Saves money: Divorcing through litigation can be expensive. Mediation typically costs significantly less because it takes less time and doesn’t involve attorney fees. The Aurit Center charges a one-time, personalized flat fee that’s up to 90% less than the average divorce cost in litigation. Many Aurit Center Certified Mediators also offer payment plan options.
  • Keeps you in control: In mediation, you and your spouse have control. In court, a judge makes decisions for you. Your mediator will help both make all of the necessary decisions together.
  • Protects your privacy: Mediation is private. Court cases, on the other hand, are public, so anyone can find out about your divorce details.
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How to mediate

An Aurit Center Certified Mediator can help you work through everything you need to make decisions on, including your assets, division of property and household items, and legal custody of your kids.

The Aurit Center can simplify your CA divorce

While the divorce is never easy, mediation can offer a much easier route through a difficult time. The Aurit Center provides a highly personalized service. We help spouses separate as amicably and productively as possible.

Take the next step with us by scheduling a free initial consultation.

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