San Diego Uncontested Divorce Attorney
What is an “Uncontested Divorce”?
An example of an uncontested divorce might look something like the following scenario:
Getting Started:: Mary retains Attorney Delisi to represent her in the dissolution of her marriage to David. Because Mary indicates that she and David have already agreed to the terms of their settlement, Attorney Delisi is charging Mary a flat fee plus costs. This flat fee was quoted to Mary at her free consultation (Consultation fee of $50.00 applied to retainer and doubled if retainer agreement signed same day as consultation) and installment payments were arranged for Mary’s convenience. Costs include the court’s filing fees, service of process fees, photocopy, postage, supplies, and related expenses.
Upon retaining Attorney Delisi, Mary receives a dissolution questionnaire and a blank Income & Expenses Declaration for her to complete. David can indicate his agreement to the terms of settlement by initialing the questionnaire next to Mary’s initials. This gives Mary reasonable assurance that David is ‘with her’ regarding their settlement. When Mary completes these documents, she meets with Attorney Delisi to go over everything, especially to ensure that Mary is properly counseled and receiving the greatest protection under the law. Any and all concerns are to be resolved at this stage.
Moving Forward: If everything is in order, Attorney Delisi prepares her case, including the Summons, Petition, and related documents. When these documents are ready, Mary is notified and scheduled an appointment. Upon her review and execution of these documents, as well as payment of the next installment (for costs), Mary’s case is filed with the court. When returned by the court, Mary’s documents, as well as her Preliminary Declaration Of Disclosure, are prepared to be served upon David. In this case, because David has agreed to accept Mary’s documents, they will be mailed to him. This saves Mary the fees for service of process.
Once served, David has 30 days to respond to Mary’s Summons and Petition. Though David has elected not to retain his own attorney, he has elected to make an appearance in this case by filing his Response with the court. By doing so, David is obligated to prepare and serve his Preliminary Declaration Of Disclosure. Even if David elected not to make an appearance by filing a Response, but instead allowed his default to be taken, he still would be required to prepare and serve his Preliminary Declaration Of Disclosure due to the intention of the parties to file a settlement agreement (described below).
Marital Settlement Agreement: Once both parties have served their respective Preliminary Declarations Of Disclosure, and the information contained in both is consistent with Mary’s questionnaire (containing the initials of both parties), Attorney Delisi can prepare the Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA, which is to be attached to the Judgment, replaces the need for a trial and includes all of the issues raised in the dissolution of the marriage between Mary and David, such as child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, division of community property assets and debts, insurance, taxes, and attorney’s fees and costs. The court requires the Preliminary Declaration Of Disclosure from each party if a MSA is to be filed with the court. The parties can waive the Final Declaration Of Disclosure, which Mary and David have done.
Judgment of Dissolution: Because Mary and David had everything agreed-to and cooperated with each other from the very beginning, the Judgment of Dissolution, with attached MSA, can be submitted within 2-3 months of the filing of the Petition. Mary and David’s marital status is terminated six months from the date he accepted Mary’s Summons and Petition.
Some post-judgment work may be required, such as a wage assignment for child support or a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) for a retirement/pension plan.
At the conclusion of her case, Mary will have paid all of the installments for attorney’s fees and costs. Attorney Delisi will mail Mary a letter advising her of the conclusion of her case, explaining various legal issues which are relevant to her. Mary will also receive a conformed copy of her Judgment with attached MSA, a statement of fees and costs and, most likely, a check for a refund of unused funds held in trust for costs. Mary will also receive a thank you from Attorney Delisi.
Attorney Delisi focuses on your best interests and understands how vulnerable both parties may feel when dividing their lives. We will help you get through this process and focus on Uncontested Divorce cases with skill and responsibility. You will be able to move forward with your life and your interests will be covered with a binding uncontested divorce agreement.