Uncontested Divorce with Children

Divorce is frequently associated with emotional worries and lengthy litigations. However, it is possible to avoid complications of the process by applying for an uncontested divorce. This type of marriage dissolution is also advantageous in terms of duration and expenses. The psychological aspect of marriage dissolution becomes even more significant when divorcing spouses have kids. That’s why an uncontested divorce with a child is a more suitable option for spouses who want to minimize the emotional toll of a breakup on their little ones.

The regulations of how to get divorced with kids may vary slightly among the states. In general, the rules for applying for an uncontested divorce in California with a child can differ from the laws in Texas or Virginia. However, there is a key principle shared by all jurisdictions – the decisions made during a divorce concerning kids must meet their best interests.

If you and your partner have reached the point when divorce is the only acceptable option, and you want to learn the ins and outs of a marriage dissolution process with a kid, this article may come in handy. We have described what happens when you divorce with a child, what the approximate expenses are, which papers you need to fill out and file, and more. Keep in mind that this information is more like a comprehensive answer to “Can you file an uncontested divorce with a child”? There are no details of a contested divorce, so if that’s your case, you’d better get legal advice on the topic.

Is It Possible to Have an Uncontested Divorce with Children?

Uncontested divorce with children is a viable solution if partners can agree on all crucial points related to the breakup. It is extremely important for spouses to have similar goals and priorities related to their divorce and children in particular. When a wife and husband strive to reduce an emotional impact on their kids, it may be easier for them to negotiate child custody and support issues.

One of the most important steps to divorce with kids is open and respectful communication. In fact, the concept of an uncontested divorce stems from spouses’ ability to surpass personal negative feelings and establish a calm environment for discussing pressing matters. It is necessary to talk about child custody arrangements, visitation schedules, division of parental responsibilities, and financial support.

Keep in mind that establishing and maintaining a constructive dialog may be complicated at first, even when both spouses are interested in an uncontested divorce. Some aspects may spur debates, like how to divorce with kids and ensure that every parent spends equal time with them, where children should live, etc. In such a situation, mediation sessions may help. A skilled mediator will direct the communication, encourage active listening, help partners see each other’s perspectives, and assist in reaching a satisfying solution.

If there are initial disputes about financial topics, e.g., who will pay child support and how much, it is recommended to consult a certified lawyer or a financial advisor. It doesn’t mean your divorce is becoming contested if you need 1-2 sessions to settle your disputes. In fact, it signals that you are looking for all possible ways to reach a compromise on all conflictual points to end up with an amicable marriage termination.

Besides, addressing a lawyer may be helpful if you need relevant information on ending a marriage in your residency. For instance, an expert will inform you on present-day laws on mutual divorce in California, child support regulations, possible child custody options, etc., so that you can thoroughly plan your future steps.  

So, can you have an uncontested divorce with a child? Yes, you can if all divorce-related disputes are settled down before you file for a marriage dissolution with the court.

The Cost of Uncontested Divorce with Kids

On average, spouses starting an uncontested divorce spend from $700-$1,000 on the case if they do not involve a lawyer. They opt for this kind of marriage dissolution not only because of the peaceful and quicker process but also because it is the cheapest way to get a divorce with a child in the state. Some spouses manage paperwork on their own to reduce expenses; others reach online services for help.

In general, all uncontested divorce-associated costs fall into several categories:

  • Legal fees

When people file for an uncontested divorce, they may still want some legal assistance. For example, they may need a consultation with a lawyer to discuss specific points of the case, professional help with filling out forms, guidelines for negotiating custody aspects, etc. The cost of legal services depends on the scope of the attorney’s involvement, the problems to resolve, the lawyer’s reputation and experience, their location, as well as billing structure.

In general, seasoned lawyers who run their practice in central regions charge more. In California, an hourly rate of an experienced divorce lawyer is between $300-$400. But most attorneys have fixed fees for particular services – drafting documents, consulting on child custody, and so on. Therefore, if you want a cheap divorce with a child but still can’t do without legal help, make sure to formulate your request clearly. Thus, you will be able to find an expert capable of meeting your needs within an allocated budget. 

  • Court fees

Court fees are usually an indispensable part of divorce expenses. They vary depending on the state and county where a divorce case is filed. These fees typically cover administrative costs related to processing divorce paperwork, scheduling court hearings, and issuing a divorce decree.

The first part of court fees is the sum a petitioner pays when filing documents. The amount is different across the country. Today, California is among the states with the highest divorce filing fee, which is around $435-$450. But keep in mind that costs change from time to time, so double-check the latest regulations in your jurisdiction.

When a filing party lacks money to cover a filing fee, they can complete and submit a fee waiver. It is an official request for the court to waive the payment. The court will study the petitioner’s financial situation, and if the person experiences hardships with money, the fee will be waived. In some cases, a defendant may be obliged to pay a filing fee. When partners file documents together as co-petitioners, they split the payment.

Other types of court fees are those related to copying documents and serving copies to a defendant. However, when parties are on amicable terms, a respondent may sign an Acceptance of Service form, acknowledging the formal delivery of papers isn’t required. Or, a petitioner may ask a third party unrelated to a divorce to serve the papers. If certified process servers are involved, the payment varies from $50 to $100.

  • Additional expenses

Couples with minor children may have to deal with additional expenses. Namely, they may be obliged to participate in parenting classes, which are typically paid. Generally, attending such courses is mandatory as the judge wants to ensure parents understand how to care for kids after a divorce.

Besides, parents may want to address professional accountants, financial advisors, or child support enforcement agencies if they need an expert tip on how to calculate child support. This type of assistance will add to an overall divorce cost.

Papers for Uncontested Cases with Children You Should Fill out

If spouses are divorcing with kids, the number of documents to prepare is typically bigger than in cases without children. Since there are important matters related to the kid’s well-being and their post-divorce future, the court requires parents to complete the corresponding papers. The general list of forms for a divorce with kids is the following:

  • Petition. It is a basic form to file to begin a divorce procedure. It usually includes the details about the marriage, personal information about spouses and their children, the grounds for divorce, and the sought relief. In cases with children, you also need to specify the details about child custody, visitation, and support in the corresponding section of the Petition. 
  • Summons. This document is a legal notification about the initiated divorce action that must be delivered to a defendant. The Summons typically contains instructions on how the defendant should respond to the Petition and what happens if they fail to do so. The defendant usually has a predetermined period for filing the Answer. In California, it is 30 days after being served.
  • Parenting Plan. Partners have to elaborate in a parenting plan on how they will share responsibilities for the care and upbringing of their children after the divorce. It is necessary to define where a kid will reside, how much time they will spend with each parent, how often a non-custodial parent will see a child, how communication between parents will be organized, etc. In fact, it is worth making a Divorce Parenting Plan as detailed as possible.
  • Child Support Worksheets. In an uncontested divorce, parents usually manage to agree on the sum one of them will pay for child support. To formalize their agreement, it is necessary to fill out child support worksheets. Usually, when determining the amount of child support, parties must follow state guidelines. Though they differ a bit, the most important factors to consider are each parent’s income, the number of children involved, any special needs of kids, and other relevant expenses. The calculation guidelines are necessary to ensure fairness and consistency of payments.
  • A Certificate Confirming the Completion of Parenting Classes. In most jurisdictions, including California, divorcing parents must attend parenting classes. Accredited counselors will explain to parties how to organize co-parenting, what possible challenges await them and how to manage the difficulties, how to help kids live through a divorce, etc. After completing a parenting class for divorce, spouses will get a certificate. It must be added to a kit of divorce documents.
  • Final Decree. It is an official court order where the terms of a divorce, responsibilities, and rights of all parties involved are clearly defined. When the Final Decree of divorce, known as Divorce Judgment in California, is signed by the judge, it means a divorce is officially finalized, and ex-spouses are single people free to remarry. In uncontested cases, finalized divorce papers are usually based on the settlement agreement prepared jointly by spouses and approved by the court.

Currently, many court websites have a self-help section, where people can find the needed forms for divorce. These are usually PDF templates that you can download, print, and fill out. Sometimes, there are even detailed instructions on how to complete forms if spouses must comply with unique regulations. The possibility to find the needed papers online is advantageous for couples seeking DIY uncontested divorce with kids.

Alternatively, you can order case-specific forms from online document providers. You’ll have to share the details about your case, wait till your forms are completed, download and sign them, and file the papers with the local court. Every agency has fixed fees for such services.

There are also non-profit legal aid organizations that offer free or low-cost assistance to individuals beginning marriage dissolution. Reach out to them if you need forms, guidance filling out those documents, and resources for navigating a divorce process. In California, you can contact:

One more method to get divorce forms is to contact a family lawyer. You may not worry about completing the documents yourself, as a professional will study your case and take care of the paperwork. In fact, some lawyers are ready to file the forms with the court for an additional fee.

Keep in mind that preparing divorce papers may take time and effort, especially if you are doing everything on your own. It is paramount to be attentive and accurate when providing the information. Any mistakes or discrepancies may lead to prolonging a divorce procedure.

Can You Get a Divorce without Child Support?   

In divorce cases where minor kids are involved, it is typically impossible to avoid paying child support. A parent who doesn’t have physical custody but sees a child on an agreed-upon basis is often the one to cover the payment. In an uncontested marriage dissolution, partners usually decide on the sufficient amount, the frequency of transactions, and other aspects of child support themselves. However, it is always recommended to stick to state child support guidelines, which are developed to cater to the child’s best interests.

Some people question, “Is it cheaper to put myself on child support”? Yes, it may be cheaper to establish a particular sum that you, as a supporting parent, will pay on agreed-upon time intervals.

Though divorce without child support isn’t an option in most jurisdictions, it happens that a non-custodial parent asks the court to establish a “zero” payment. It isn’t a common practice, but may be possible if:

  • Both parents have physical custody, spend almost equal time with a kid, and their incomes are practically the same;
  • A supporting parent has serious financial hardships or can’t pay child support due to unemployment or disability. The court may temporarily waive the payment in any of such situations;
  • Parents mutually agree to waive child support or reduce the amount based on their individual circumstances and the needs of the children.

Anyway, the process of “zeroing” child support may prolong and complicate divorce. It is hardly a situation that people applying for an uncontested marriage dissolution want. Remember that child maintenance isn’t a way to punish either parent or somehow shame them. It is a well-reasoned court regulation aimed at providing children with proper living standards after their parents are divorced.

How to Shield Children from Divorce Proceedings?

Nobody wants to put the words “divorce and children” in one sentence, but, unfortunately, it happens. Marriage dissolution may be a traumatizing experience for adults, let alone kids. It is hard to predict the effects of divorce on children, but it is still possible to help them feel safe, loved, and important even in such a difficult life period. If you are all about helping children cope with divorce, make use of the following tips:

  • Talk openly, but use age-appropriate words. People are frequently at a loss when trying to figure out how to tell kids about divorce. The main thing is to be honest about upcoming events. Children are likely to have all sorts of questions about your splitting, and you must answer them frankly. Still, when explaining something to your kids, choose age-appropriate language. Make sure your child understands everything you are talking about.
  • Do your best to maintain routines. When getting divorced with kids, it is paramount to preserve as many customary activities and schedules as possible. Psychologists claim that such an approach is beneficial as it will be easier for a child’s brain to perceive, accept, and adapt to a changing reality. Besides, it creates a sense of stability for everybody involved. For instance, if kids attend any hobby-centered clubs, it is worth the effort to save this tradition.   
  • Develop coparenting strategies for your particular situation. Like any other life-altering incident, divorce with child requires meticulous planning. It is great when parents can cooperate, discuss various scenarios, and eventually reach solutions that are beneficial for their kids. Nobody says negotiating disputes will be easy. But when a child’s physical and emotional needs are the top priorities of both parents, they are more willing to compromise. There are lots of possible co-parenting strategies. You can search them on the web, ask mediators for help, or get in touch with support groups. However, there is no one-size-fits-all technique, so customization will still be required.
  • Go for professional support if needed. The burden of divorce may be unbearable for adults and can become unmanageable for them if children witness the parting. If ex-spouses feel this way, the best thing to do is to seek professional help. An experienced and empathic therapist will not only suggest working methods of how to divorce without hurting your child but also help you recover step by step. In general, if parents feel calm and confident no matter the life situation, they have higher chances to create an environment for kids where they will also feel safe, peaceful, and happy.