Divorces in California are either contested or uncontested. Uncontested is the most desirable type, as it can help you avoid a lengthy and expensive legal battle. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree to the terms of the split. This can make finalizing the divorce faster and simpler than going before a judge. If you and your spouse want to pursue an uncontested divorce, strengthen your chances of success by working together on a few key matters.
Tackle Child Custody and Support First
It is normal to feel passionate about child welfare. You may misplace this passion, however, as anger toward your spouse. Put your personal feelings aside and focus instead on what will be best for the children. Working together with your spouse is often in the children’s best interests. The California family courts offer plenty of resources on parenting plans and custody agreements. A parenting plan is a comprehensive overview of how you and your spouse plan on handling child custody, parental rights and financial responsibilities after divorce.
Drawing up a satisfactory parenting plan for both of you may take help from a mediator or custody attorney. A lawyer can help you and your spouse avoid fights over custody by hosting mediation in a productive and supportive decision-making environment. If you and your spouse can agree on child custody and support arrangements, you can most likely agree on the rest of the terms of your divorce as well.
Divide Property Fairly
California is one of only a few states that follow community property laws. The courts will divide property and debts equally (50/50) during a divorce case. One of the benefits of uncontested divorce in California is the ability to decide on property division without court intervention. You and your spouse will have the chance to split up your assets and debts alone before a judge intervenes. If you can divide property yourselves, you may not need to take your case to court.
Work out a property division agreement you and your spouse both feel is fair. This may take help from a Los Angeles lawyer if you have a high net worth divorce. Divide things equally, so you both end up with about the same amount of property and debt. If you have two bank accounts with roughly the same value, for example, agree to each keep one account. If the accounts have unequal amounts, the person who takes the smaller account should also end up with lesser debts to keep things fair. Do your best to assign marital properties evenly for an uncontested divorce.
Discuss the Need for Alimony
Alimony, or spousal support, is another common reason couples cannot achieve uncontested divorces. Start the conversation concerning alimony from a place of necessity, not spite. It is a misconception that the purpose of alimony is to punish one spouse. The courts in California will not award alimony punitively. Instead, they will make this arrangement if they believe one spouse is at a financial disadvantage.
Discuss the possibility of alimony with your spouse starting with an honest evaluation of your prospects post-divorce. Explain to your spouse why you believe you will need spousal support temporarily or permanently. If you forfeited having a career to raise the kids, for example, you could now be at a financial disadvantage. List all the sacrifices you made over the years to raise children or to make your marriage work.
Explain that you are seeking alimony to bridge the gap between the life you have come to know and what your life will be like after the divorce. Make sure your spouse knows you are seeking spousal support out of financial necessity, not for revenge. Your spouse may be more willing to agree if the arrangement is temporary while you go to school or receive job training. If your spouse fights you on any important matters relating to your divorce, you may need an Orange County divorce lawyer to help you with negotiations.