How To Get an Uncontested Divorce in California

Uncontested Divorce in California

Bear in mind that there have been no “official” divorce statistics available from the State of California for more than 20 years. Analysts seeking divorce data have had to piece together the sparse data available from the 58 California counties.

So, depending on who you listen to, somewhere between 70% and 80% of California divorces are now uncontested divorces (including default divorces).

It also stands to some reason that there is a higher percentage of uncontested divorces during C-19.

An uncontested divorce in California is simply a California divorce in which neither spouse will contest or legally dispute any issue in the divorce or the divorce itself. The spouses in an uncontested divorce don’t have to be smiling or happy, but neither spouse disputes anything requested by the other in the case.

A default divorce is by far the most common type of uncontested divorce in California.

A default divorce is a divorce in which one spouse/partner (the Petitioner) files the divorce Petition (and other necessary docs) at court, making certain requests based on what’s involved in the case, and also  requests the actual divorce. Then the Petitioner causes the filed first batch of divorce papers and the un-filed second batch of papers (the income/property/debt disclosure documents required under California law) to be served (presented) in a specific way on his or her non-military spouse/partner (the Respondent). Then 31 days must pass without the Respondent filing a Response to contest the case. That’s what makes default divorce uncontested. On or after the 31st day, the Petitioner may present a request for the Respondent’s default to be “entered” and for a default judgment that contains court orders that equate directly to the requests for orders made in the Petition.

If the Respondent legally disputes an issue by filing a Response before the judge approves the default judgment, the divorce becomes contested.

Once a case becomes contested, the paths forward to finalization are negotiation, mediation or litigation or some combination of them – all expensive and frustrating procedures.

If, at this point, you have made the difficult decision to divorce or terminate your domestic partnership in California, but have not yet begun the process itself, you know more about the two people involved in your divorce than anyone else does.

A lawyer will know far more about the law and procedures that will affect your divorce process, but does not know as much as you do about the likely path your divorce will take.

If you know with reasonable certainty that your California divorce will be an uncontested California divorce with none of the additional factors listed in the next section, don’t allow a traditional divorce lawyer to control your divorce.

Instead, you should make every possible effort to handle your uncontested divorce as an online divorce. Online divorce is extremely beneficial in a number of ways in an uncontested California divorce.

Online divorce provides convenience, cost-reduction and your own self-empowerment in your divorce. The secure online divorce interview that you will complete and the powerful cloud-based online divorce software absolutely crushes the massive amounts of data required even in the simplest California divorces and easily handles the complexities built into the California divorce process. 

Almost all uncontested divorces in California should be handled as online divorces.

Contested or Problematic Uncontested Divorce in California

If you know with reasonable certainty that your divorce will be contested, then don’t kid yourself about using an online divorce.

For a contested case, you need a traditional full-representation lawyer with a large retainer fee up front and the hourly billable treadmill later. The process will be expensive, time-consuming and frustrating.

However, you need full representation in a contested divorce. There is no other wise option. You may not want to hear that advice, but it is sound advice. Call 1-800-DIVORCE to find a full-representation traditional lawyer near you.

A contested divorce simply means that you and your spouse/partner will be disputing at least one issue in the divorce. It can be something simple or complex. It can be highly emotional, such as in a custody/visitation/parenting dispute. Or it can be stupid. If today is Monday and your spouse says it’s Thursday (or something similar within the particular facts of your case), that’s a contested divorce. Call 1-800-DIVORCE to find a full-representation traditional lawyer near you.

Even if your divorce is technically uncontested, if it contains complex legal or business or taxation issues or if your marital estate is very large or if your situation involves domestic violence or threats of domestic violence, you should treat your divorce like a contested case even if it is not. Call 1-800-DIVORCE to find a full-representation traditional lawyer near you.

California Online Divorce

So at this point you should be reasonably certain that your California divorce will be uncontested and does not have any of the problematic factors mentioned above. Online Divorce should be your target, one way or the other.

So what are the online divorce options from this point?

Lawyer or Non-Lawyer

This is the next logical step in your decision-making process aimed at using online divorce for your uncontested California divorce.

Do you just want to keep it cheap? If you are certain your case will be simple and uncontested and your primary goal is simply to keep the cost down, then your decision should be in favor of a non-lawyer online divorce provider like NetDivorce.

NetDivorce and its pre-internet predecessor, California Legal Assistance Centers (offices in Riverside and Sacramento), has been handling ONLY California uncontested divorces since June, 1981. 

However, NetDivorce still handles ONLY California uncontested divorce.

If you will not be filing your uncontested divorce in California, 3 Step Divorce is a well-established nationwide online divorce provider that does a good job. Most importantly, 3 Step Divorce is an honest company that does good work and does not defraud you on hidden fees. Like NetDivorce, there are no hidden monthly fees, teaser fees or up-selling with 3 Step Divorce.

If You Just Want to Keep It Cheap

NetDivorce’s low flat-fee of $129 for a COMPLETE uncontested divorce in California, with no ups or extras EVER, is by far the best deal in the non-lawyer California online divorce industry.

However, for a modest increase in your cost, you may prefer to have the additional security of a lawyer on your team but still use online divorce.

Obviously, things can change in your case before, during or after the time your case is filed. Perhaps a dispute will arise between you and your spouse/partner either after the present time or after the case is filed. Perhaps a dispute actually exists right now and one or both of you just doesn’t yet realize it.

While it is not wise, immediately and automatically, to pay a $7500 retainer fee to a full-representation divorce lawyer to provide legal services that are not necessary, and are even provocative to your spouse and counter-productive to your interests, in an uncontested divorce, it is wise to pay $500-$1000 to an unbundled (limited representation) divorce lawyer to provide specific and necessary legal services such as a case strategy session, a complete online divorce service and a document review service. Most California online divorce lawyers who offer such services will also offer filing and process service. You won’t even need to leave your home.

If you use an Online Divorce Lawyer, if your divorce case blow up into a fully-fledged war, or should it just need a quick piece or two of legal advice to prevent it from blowing up, you’ve already got a lawyer on your side – a lawyer who already knows your case.

There would be higher cost should additional legal services be required, but those additional fees are only necessary if the case does expand unexpectedly. You have used a lawyer wisely on an a-la-carte basis only where the lawyer was needed.  

The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds – the convenience, low cost and self-empowerment of online divorce PLUS the security of a California licensed divorce lawyer on your team – has only been available to California divorce consumers since 2019. And we now have full coverage – online divorce lawyers now cover the entire state of California. 

While all Online Divorce Lawyers are independently owned and operated, in most parts of California, you can enjoy Online Divorce Lawyer service for $695 (without minor children or property/debt) or $995 (with minor children and/or property/debt).  Those are flat fees in uncontested California divorce.

What To Avoid

If you opt to use either NetDivorce or Online Divorce Lawyer, you don’t have to worry about what to avoid because there’s nothing to avoid. But if you use a non-lawyer online divorce provider that is not NetDivorce, there are significant price fraud traps waiting for you. 

Here are the two main non-lawyer uncontested divorce price frauds to avoid:

Monthly Subscription Fees

No other online divorce provider can match NetDivorce’s complete $129 flat fee.  BTW, we actually tell you how our online divorce fee can be so low and still allow us to provide you a complete high quality service.

Our competitors could listen to that advice also if they wanted to provide an economical online divorce service. But they choose not to do so. They don’t want to provide a low-cost online divorce service.

Instead, they want to trick you into hiring them by representing that their stated fees are complete fees.  They are not. Then they want to charge you much more than you thought you’d agreed to pay.

All of these conmen providers have claimed fees between $139 and $169. These claimed fees make you think that their fees compare to NetDivorce’s flat $129 fee. They do not.

NetDivorce’s fee is a complete $129.  You cannot pay us more. It’s a simple concept.

However, hidden in the Terms of Use of all of the $119 and $139 conmen are surprises like this: “I understand that my purchase provides access to the platform and support services for thirty days. After thirty days, access automatically renews monthly and my card will automatically be charged the current rate, as indicated at my time of purchase (rate subject to change). “

They know you will not likely look at their Terms of Use. They also know that when you hire them, you agree to their Terms of Use. That’s how they get away with this scam.  Their $139 fee, which you reasonably thought was a complete fee, is actually a monthly subscription. They will hit your credit card every single month until you cancel.

And you’ll notice that the conmen claim they will tell you what their extra monthly fees are when you hire them. Why? Why don’t they just tell you what those fees are when you look at their websites?

Why don’t they say, “Our fee is $139 plus $50 per month after the first 30 days?” What are they hiding?  They’re hiding the fact that their monthly fees are “subject to change.” That’s not what NetDivorce is saying. That’s what their Terms of Use are saying. They can make those monthly fees whatever they want. You have two choices: pay what they demand or walk away from your case and all of your case data, which the conmen are holding hostage.

We know that recently to this writing (February 2022), the monthly fees of the main $139 scam provider are $50. But they can make those fees anything they want and you’ve agreed to that in advance. You have no way to know what your exact fee will be. You’ve signed a blank check.

In a California uncontested divorce, you will need much more time than 30 days to get your divorce finalized. This delay differs from county to county. In Los Angeles County, if you move as quickly as you can, you will get your signed default divorce judgment from the court in an average of 3.5 months after the other party is served with divorce papers. In San Diego and Santa Clara Counties, that period is 5 months. Bear in mind that the divorce will still not be final for 6 months from the date the Respondent was served.

But the fees you end up paying will not be as low as $139 + (4 months X $50) = $339. First, you don’t know how long 

But a larger problem is revealed in many of the Better Business Bureau complaints against the monthly fee scammers. There you will notice many complaints stating that one critical legal document is left out of each batch of documents. That means a court will sit on your submitted docs for weeks and then reject them because of the one missing critical document. Then you have to contact the scammer, get the missing doc, update all other docs just returned to you by the court and re-submit your paperwork again. In the meantime, the scammers get another 2 or 3 months’ payments while you sit and spin without a divorce judgment.

Teaser Fees

There is one California-based non-lawyer online divorce provider that uses a $99 teaser fee. This provider is fronted by a hot-shot Hollywood-type lawyer, but it is not a law firm.

This provider offers uncontested online divorce packages that range from $99 to $4500. There’s nothing wrong with that.

What’s wrong is that the $99 package does not include any client support. It’s not a viable or realistic complete service for almost all divorce consumers. You get to use their online software and you get written instructions on how to process your case. But you cannot ask questions of a caseworker. And you WILL have questions. California divorce is complex.

At NetDivorce, you get unlimited client support by phone, email and live chat Monday-Friday 7 AM to 7 PM. We cannot remember a single client who has not had at least one question or issue to ask us about.

If you have a question at the $99 teaser fee outfit, your choices are that you do your own research online and try to figure it out yourself or you call and get up-sold to the next package, which is $1100, where you can ask questions.

$1100 is more expensive than the most expensive package at most Online Divorce Lawyer’s.

The $99 teaser outfit basically bets against you. They want you to fail. The proof of that is the huge gap between $99 and $1100. Guess which one they want you to pay. What are you gonna do? Walk away from the $99 and all of the personal data you’ve got entered on their system? Nope. You’re most likely gonna ante up and pay the $1100.  You’ve been screwed.  Be careful of the $99 teaser fee.

Conclusion on How To Get an Uncontested Divorce in California

If you are reasonably certain that your divorce is an uncontested divorce in California, hire either non-lawyer provider NetDivorce, which has been in business (in both bricks-and-mortar and Internet versions) since June 1981, at a flat fee of $129 for a complete online divorce service with no ups or extras ever, or get the Best of Both Worlds – an online divorce by a California divorce lawyer