What is the divorce process in San Diego County? Is it the same for the state of California?
Getting a divorce in California varies in complexity depending on the specific issues involved with the divorcing couple. In California, a person can file for divorce for any reason, and the person’s spouse does not have to agree to the divorce. This is an example of a no-fault divorce. Often, the reason given for the divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” In general, California courts do not get involved with issues such as infidelity as it applies to hurt feelings or the breaking of marriage vows. Exceptions come when there are stipulations specifically named in a prenuptial agreement, when children may be adversely affected, or when the couple’s joint assets are being used to finance an affair.
In most cases, divorce lawyers get involved with helping a person file for divorce. Even relatively uneventful divorces benefit from the skills of am experienced San Diego divorce lawyer.
Most of the time, a divorce attorney is also a family law attorney who will be able to offer advice on the best way to navigate through the steps of filing a divorce, including; gathering necessary paperwork, seeing that all forms are filled out completely and correctly, attending required classes, finding mediators to help with working out a parenting plan, and fighting for a fair division of assets and any needed child support or spousal support. Family law attorneys can continue to help if further custody issues arise even after a divorce as well as to help couples work out a prenuptial agreement if they decide to remarry.
Steps in the Divorce Process
The process of divorce begins when one person decides that he or she wants a divorce. In some cases, this can be made easier if the couple qualifies for a summary dissolution. A married couple may qualify if they:
- Have been married for less than five years.
- Have no children together — born, expected or adopted.
- Do not own land or buildings.
- Do not rent land or buildings aside from their residence.
- Have acquired no more than $6,000 in debt, with some exceptions.
- Have less than $41,000 in property owned together.
- Do not have separate property worth more than $41,000.
- Agree not to ask for spousal support.
- Sign an agreement outlining the division of assets.
Regardless of whether a summary dissolution or a standard divorce is filed, the petitioner needs to file in the county where he or she resides. In order to file in San Diego County, at least one spouse should be a resident of for at least three months and of California for six months. Those who do not meet the residency requirement may file for legal separation and proceed with a divorce once they do qualify.
The petitioner will then need to get all the required forms, including state and local forms. These can be downloaded or obtained from the courthouse, law library or with the assistance of a San Diego divorce lawyer. The petitioner must then file the forms with the county clerk and pay any applicable fees or apply for a waiver.
When the divorce is filed, the other spouse is notified and will have an opportunity to respond to the case within 30 days. Both parties exchange financial documents, which are normally reviewed by the spouse and the lawyer. The two agree on the terms of the divorce through mediation, litigation or other methods. Regardless of when the agreement is met, at least six months must pass before the divorce is final.
In addition to filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Superior Court, the state of California also requires a Declaration Under Uniform Child Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act if children are involved.
Mediation is often a good option but is usually not advisable in instances where there has been domestic violence. Mediation sessions can be held with or without an attorney present.
In any case, having some involvement with a divorce lawyer in San Diego is usually advisable, even if it is only to verify that forms have been filled out correctly. If you’re considering divorce in San Diego County, contact Renkin & Associates to set up a case evaluation.