California is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning the court can grant a dissolution of marriage if there are “irreconcilable differences” that have caused an irrevocable breakdown of the marriage. Simply put, the couple can no longer get along and keep the marriage going – without proving if either spouse committed any misconduct.
However, just because a divorce is not based on fault, doesn’t mean there are no disagreements between the spouses. In general, there are two types of divorce in California: contested divorce and uncontested divorce.
A contested divorce means both parties do not agree on one or more divorce-related matters. On the other hand, an uncontested divorce occurs when the spouses agree on all issues required to end their marriage.
Common divorce-related issues include:
The main difference between contested and uncontested divorce is that the latter is much faster and less expensive than the former. Since an uncontested divorce means that the spouses have reached an agreement about all significant divorce issues, there is no need for a trial or several court appearances.
Additionally, a couple may hire one attorney to handle their uncontested divorce. If each spouse wishes to protect their own rights and best interests, they may each have their own lawyer to ensure the divorce agreement benefits them. In the end, both parties reach a mutual agreement.
While a contested divorce may end up in the courtroom, couples have the option of trying to resolve their differences through mediation, in which a neutral third party (i.e., the mediator) helps the couple work through their disagreements in several sessions. Yet, if the spouses cannot reach an agreement through mediation, then the divorce will likely end up in court litigation.
As you can imagine, contested divorces are more emotionally overwhelming compared to uncontested divorces, especially when they involve children and a significant amount of assets. Ultimately, a judge will examine the evidence and call witnesses to decide all divorce-related matters, which means a trial can end with a winner and a loser – or even perhaps an outcome that both parties are not satisfied with.
If you are interested in filing for a divorce in the San Fernando Valley, CA, call Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law at (818) 839-2533 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule your consultation. Serving families in Sherman Oaks, Encino, Van Nuys, Studio City, and beyond!