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2024 How to Have an Amicable Divorce in California

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Jul 06, 2023

Divorce can sometimes be an ugly, messy process. It can involve a lot of emotion and tension. How the process unfolds and the decisions that are made will affect the rest of the divorcing couples’ lives. If the divorce has to involve matters being resolved by the court, it can be all the more ugly. Typically, an uglier divorce can mean a more expensive one as well. There are plenty of reasons to desire an amicable divorce. It is possible, too, if both sides are committed to making it happen.

Amicable Divorce Process

One of the keys to an amicable divorce is to keep the process out of the hands of the courts. This is usually done by agreeing on the major points of the divorce before having to argue them in court. The earliest that a divorce can be finalized is six months after the papers are served. This means that the couple has the chance to work out an agreement on their own during the intervening time.

The process of a collaborative divorce or mediation can help couples, usually with the help of their lawyers, find agreement on the major pieces of the divorce. It’s important, though, that everyone commits to trying to keep the process amicable. With such important decisions being made, tensions may make the process challenging. However, if there is a commitment to the process, an amicable divorce is possible.

Things to Agree on in an Amicable Divorce

To keep the divorce amicable, you need to be prepared for the areas where compromise and agreement will need to be made. These include:

  • Property Division – This can be difficult because there is some property that will be considered personal and other property that will be deemed community property. Personal property tends to be that which was owned before the marriage, though there are exceptions. Generally, community property is that which was acquired during the marriage, and it should be split equitably.
  • Child Custody – Although a judge will have to finalize the agreement and ensure that whatever custody arrangement you come to is in the interest of the child, you can put together a custody plan that you both can agree on. A major part of this is having a parenting plan, as a judge will look at that to help determine if it will be the most beneficial scenario for the child.
  • Child Support and Alimony – Almost every divorce will involve one party, at least for a period of time, paying money to the other as support for the care of any children involved and/or for them personally. It’s important to come to some agreement about these issues before a judge rules on a divorce decree.


Q: How Do I Start an Amicable Divorce in California?

A: The legal portion of the divorce process in California begins with the filing and serving of papers. If you feel that you need to divorce your spouse and want it to be an amicable process, there are a few steps you should take prior to filing. One thing that can be helpful is to research the divorce process in California. Understanding the laws involved can help you prepare for the stress of the situation, which could lead an otherwise amicable process to dissolve into something more contentious. Another part of your preparation should be to make sure that you are financially prepared for the divorce, as financial stress can also hinder your well-being. Lastly, it would be a good idea to speak with a lawyer first regarding the process. They often have experience and can advise you on how to keep things amicable.

Q: How Long Does an Amicable Divorce Take in California?

A: The minimum time between the filing of the divorce and its being finalized is six months. However, the actual length of time will depend on how smoothly the process goes. If there is a lot of contention, an unwillingness to cooperate, and disputes regarding key parts of the divorce agreement, then it is going to drag on and could eventually have to be settled in court. If, though, the process is indeed amicable, issues should be able to be resolved a little more quickly, including possibly having everything prepared when that six-month mark comes up.

Q: Can You Get a Divorce Without Going to Court in California?

A: You can’t exactly avoid court entirely when getting a divorce in California. A court will have to finalize the dissolution of the marriage, and it will probably take a look at the agreement just to ensure that it seems complete and fair. If the matter of child custody is involved, then the court has a responsibility to ensure that what is agreed to is in the interests of the child. While it’s impossible to avoid the court entirely when getting divorced amicably, reaching a divorce agreement prior to interacting with the court can drastically minimize your involvement. Putting together an agreement that is more likely to be accepted by the court is one of the reasons why a lawyer can be so helpful in the process.

Q: How Is Custody Handled in an Amicable Divorce in California?

A: If you and your spouse can agree on a child custody agreement, then there is a good chance that the court will accept it. However, it’s important to recognize that the court has the final say and is bound by law to ensure that whatever they approve has the interests of the children in mind. Therefore, even if both divorcing parties agree on a custody plan, the court could still change it. Part of increasing the likelihood of getting approval for your plan is to have a thorough parenting plan as part of the agreement. An experienced lawyer can help you put something together that is likely to be acceptable to the judge.

An Amicable Divorce Is More Likely With Help

If you’re looking for an amicable divorce, then a skilled, experienced lawyer can help. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, we understand the potential difficulties of the divorce process and can help mitigate the chances that they trip up yours. Our hope is to help you find an agreement that’s fair, while not letting the process become too much of a burden. If you need help with your divorce, contact us today.

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