Uncontested Versus Contested Divorce in California
Whether the respondent files a response (or how they respond) often depends on whether the parties have a contested or uncontested divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, the parties agree on terms for divorce-related processes, such as the division of community property, child custody and support, and spousal support and alimony.
If the parties disagree on such terms in any way, they must file for a contested divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, the parties typically draft an agreement detailing the terms they have settled on for their divorce. This can happen either before the petitioner files the Petition for Dissolution, or after the respondent files a Response through negotiation. A judge will examine the divorce agreement to assess whether it is equitable. If they approve of the agreement, they can sign a divorce decree that finalizes the divorce with the terms the parties agreed to.
In a contested divorce, the parties may need to litigate the outcome of their divorce in the courtroom. Typically, this means that each party attends hearings for temporary orders, which determine how processes such as custody or spousal support are handled while the divorce is ongoing. Eventually, the parties attend a trial where they present their evidence to the court. The court uses that information to make a judgment and draft a divorce decree that finalizes the divorce.
Generally, uncontested divorces are less expensive, time-consuming, and combative than contested divorces. For that reason, many attorneys attempt to facilitate uncontested divorces using methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) such as mediation or collaborative divorce.
However, sometimes a contested divorce is the best way for each party to protect their rights and interests.
Divorce is an incredibly complex process, and no two divorces look the same. At Divorced by Design, our veteran Bakersfield divorce lawyers understand the California divorce process inside and out. We'll work with you to ensure you pursue an outcome that enables you to thrive in the short and long term, seeking the best results for your future.