Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

What do I need to know about uncontested divorce?

Not every couple wants to fight things out in court when ending their marriage. Some are actually able to agree on most things by talking them out and addressing any major issues with legal counsel. If you and your spouse find yourselves ready to move on and want to quickly end your marriage, there is one specific divorce option that may be good for you.  

Numerous people in California have been able to end their marriages without dragging things out in court or taking years to come to agreeable terms. If you and your spouse have an idea of how you want to divide your assets, deal with any financial obligations, and handle child custody and support -- if applicable -- you can write up a simple agreement, get it reviewed and, if everything looks good, submit it for court approval. This is a process called an uncontested divorce.


An uncontested divorce is a good option if both parties are willing to talk about things and negotiate. It is not a way for one spouse to get everything he or she wants by walking all over the other party. Couples who cannot come to agreeable terms with little help would not be able to pursue this type of divorce filing.

Another circumstance in which an uncontested divorce may be a good option is when one spouse refuses to take part in the divorce process. If you file and your spouse refuses to respond or appear when requested, an uncontested divorce may receive court approval. 

Benefits and disadvantages

There are quite a few benefits to pursuing an uncontested divorce. A few of them are:

  • Saves time
  • Saves money
  • No or low conflict
  • Ensures privacy

Of course, there are always disadvantages to any divorce process. With an uncontested divorce, the main disadvantage has to do with the resolution of complex issues. Those who pursue this type of divorce without legal guidance may end up walking away from their marriage with settlement terms that offer them less than what they deserve.

Don't have to go it alone

If you decide that an uncontested divorce is what will work best for you and your family, this does not mean you waive the right to legal counsel on the matter. Before finalizing anything, it is okay to discuss the proposed settlement terms with a family law attorney in order to make sure your spouse is not taking advantage of you. 

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