Divorce is not fun. Married couples seeking a dissolution of their marriage often must undergo an agonizing and lengthy legal process. However, it does not have to be that way. Luckily, there comes a less painful and complicated alternative—the amicable divorce.
Many people wonder how an amicable divorce is even possible. For one, it is almost always contradictory to place “amicable” and “divorce” in one sentence. When we speak of divorce, it is usually a painful and adversarial process. Can divorce be cordial and drama-free?
The answer, plainly, is yes! In this article, we’ll cover all the details, including amicable divorce process details, methods, common pitfalls, and more.
What Is an Amicable Divorce?
Amicable divorce also referred to as uncontested divorce, collaborative divorce, or civil divorce, is a process of dissolving the marriage where both parties agree to certain terms and conditions such as the property division, child custody and support, and visitation.
One distinct factor of an amicable divorce is that there is no litigation. Instead, the two parties along with their attorneys go through the process of negotiation. Thus, it saves you the time and cost of going through an entire divorce trial and seeking complex legal advice.
Just because a divorce is amicable does not necessarily mean that divorced couples still have to be friends even when their marriage has ended, although this does sometimes happen. When we speak of an amicable divorce, we are emphasizing the dissolution of marriage “without serious disagreement” during the divorce proceedings.
The next question is, how do you get away from the serious disagreements that couples who undergo the typical divorce process so often experience? For some couples, it is possible to avoid this by working out their differences and settling at a point of compromise and divorce mediation. The fact that amicable divorce can save both parties time and money can be a powerful incentive. The mutual agreement to end a union is what makes divorce amicable.
How to Have an Amicable Divorce in California
There may be various issues that both parties have to agree upon during an amicable separation, but there are three primary things that both of you absolutely must agree on to qualify for an amicable divorce.
Division of Property
According to the California Family Code 2581, all the assets and liabilities that a couple acquires during their marriage are presumed to be community property. That means the property belongs equally to the couple and must be divided equally should a divorce happen. However, for some assets like real properties, both parties may decide things together with the help of a divorce lawyer. For example, you and your spouse may determine who gets the house and who gets the car through a friendly divorce.
Child Custody and Parenting Time
Divorce, whether amicable or not, can be extremely painful for children. That is why it is of utmost importance to prioritize the child’s best interests during negotiations of a collaborative divorce.
While the dissolution of marriage may mean that the couples will be separated, it does not necessarily mean that the burden of raising the child falls on one parent after the painless divorce. Most of the time, both parties agree on joint custody where they can settle on the parenting time, schedule, and visitation for the minor children without negatively impacting their physical health.
After the custody of the child has been settled, another issue that must be talked about is child support and financial disclosures for the child’s welfare. Simply speaking, it is the monthly payment that a non-custodial parent gives to the custodial parent (or the parent with primary custody) to cover up the costs of raising a child under both normal and difficult times. This is because the law assumes that the custodial parent, having the child under their care most or all of the time, directly spends for the child.
The duration of monthly payments may vary depending on the situation. But generally, the child is entitled to receive support from the non-custodial parent until he or she turns 18 following the peaceful divorce. Meanwhile, the amount is automatically determined using a mathematical formula per the child support guidelines.
Things to Remember When Having an Amicable Divorce
Just like the traditional divorce, the first step in an amicable separation is for you or your spouse to file the petition. The court then assigns a case number once they have received the petition for an uncontested divorce.
The key difference here from the contested divorce is that the non-filing spouse does not file a response to the petition. Through this, the court assumes that there is no contention about the terms outlined in the divorce petition. There is therefore no need for litigation, as the terms and conditions of the major issues have already been agreed upon before the filing of the divorce petition and legal representation.
After that, you and your spouse will sign the marital settlement agreement for an amicable separation. Finally, the court will make a judgment and will dissolve the marriage without it undergoing a challenging time.
Amicable Divorce Checklist
We understand that different couples have different marital situations and thus will resort to different options for their amicable resolution. If you find yourself in a state of dilemma as to whether an amicable divorce is a right option for you, check out the amicable divorce checklist.
Here’s a brief version with three things you should do before you make up your mind:
Explore other options that will best solve your and your partner’s problem
Is divorce the right answer to your marital problems? Is the relationship irreparable that no amount of mediation and communication will work? Are you and your children ready for this?
If your answer to the questions is “yes,” then it is probably best to separate with your partner. However, it will also be helpful for you to know that there are alternatives to terminating your marriage: legal separation, annulment, and even summary dissolution if your situation qualifies.
Educate yourself about the amicable divorce process and guidelines in California
While it is indeed overwhelming to read tons of articles about a very sensitive topic, it is still best to gain knowledge about the process that you may want to undergo (you’re doing that already by reading this article!). This will help you think of realistic expectations about the outcome of the divorce, notwithstanding the fact that this process, once finalized, is irreversible.
Seek legal help
If you are certain that an amicable divorce is your only hope, then do not think twice about seeking legal assistance. However, don’t assume this means you need to hire a lawyer. You can enlist aid with the processing of documents, filing of petitions, and throughout the process of amicable divorce with a cost-effective option like a document preparation service instead.
Amicable Divorce Cost
Let’s be honest: regular divorce is expensive. Filing for a divorce automatically costs $435 in California. On top of that, you might also have to hire an attorney, go through the divorce trial, and absorb the legal costs of going to court. The average cost of divorce in California amounts to $17,000 to $17,500.
Luckily, an amicable divorce is much cheaper! This also offers flexibility, as you can reach an agreement through an online platform and without hiring an attorney. You may also qualify for a summary dissolution if you have been married for less than five years, have no kids, do not own a real estate property, and have few debts and properties.
If you are looking for cheap divorce options, you may want to check our article on getting a cheap divorce out as well.
When to Hire a Divorce Attorney
An amicable divorce can usually proceed even without the need of hiring an attorney. However, if you hit a snafu in your amicable divorce and it seems like conflict is unavoidable, or if you find the whole divorce process confusing, you may be tempted to hire a California divorce attorney.
This sentiment is understandable. For one, divorce attorneys are knowledgeable about this field and can even help you speed up the process of acquiring a divorce. Their expertise in family law can help you and your spouse navigate the divorce process and better reach a point of compromise without alienating any point of contention from both parties.
Aside from that, an attorney may also serve as the mediator or counselor for both parties in the case that you find it hard to settle an agreement with your spouse. Lastly, they can ensure that the paperwork is 100% correct and will save you from the possibility of correcting a part of your agreement in the future.
However, consider the downsides to hiring an attorney as well. The main one is that an attorney is extremely expensive. Hiring one will automatically negate any hope of a cost-effective divorce. That’s why, instead of hiring an attorney, we encourage you to use A People’s Choice. Our efficient, inexpensive service can help you locate the right documents and fill them out correctly and completely, thus eliminating the need for revisions down the line.
There are three key areas a legal document preparation service can help within an amicable divorce:
Things get complicated when you have children. If you go through an amicable divorce and have agreed on the custody, A People’s Choice can ensure that your agreed-upon arrangement is laid out correctly in your paperwork.
While other properties like money in bank accounts can be divided equally, dividing other properties like real estate property and shared business can be an arduous task. If you do agree with your partner about selling real estate or managing a business after divorce, then copying your agreements out accurately can be surprisingly challenging. A People’s Choice can assist you with making sure your wishes are correctly reflected in your paperwork the first time it is filed.
Alimony and Child Support
If you happen to be taking care of your children while your partner provides income for the family, then it is likely to have an agreement about alimony and child support. Just because you are divorced does not mean that the non-custodial parent stops giving support to you and your children. A People’s Choice can assist you in getting this crucial information filed correctly and fully with the court.
Getting an Amicable Divorce with A People’s Choice
Divorce is by itself hard. If you wish to get away from the hassle of litigation, know that there is a less painful and complicated alternative that is relatively faster and cheaper: the amicable divorce! Not only will this help you, but it will also help if you have young children who might get severely affected by your separation from your marital partner.
If you are interested in going through an amicable divorce but are bombarded with so much legal information, do not hesitate to contact “A People’s Choice” at 800-747-2780 for professional help with filing your paperwork! Rest assured that you will not be alone in this process. We are with you every step of the way!
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