Steps In a California Divorce
Getting a divorce is never easy, and it is hard to know where to begin and who to trust. You may worry about the divorce cost, how to file for divorce, and a wide variety of issues specific to your family. Maybe you aren’t even sure if you want to split up, but even if the thought is crossing your mind on a regular basis, you may want to talk to a California family law attorney in order to get a sense of how to proceed if divorce is in the future.
What Are the Steps?
In order to get divorced, you will need to prepare to file your case, follow the court’s requirements for filing the case, and complete any state or local forms that are necessary in order to have your divorce finalized.
Decide How to End the Relationship
In a few cases, a couple may qualify for an annulment, especially if there are questions regarding the legitimacy of the marriage. Those who have been married less than five years, have no children together, and have minimal joint property may qualify for a summary dissolution, which is a faster process than a traditional dissolution of marriage. If you don’t want to completely sever ties with your spouse, have personal objections to divorce, or don’t meet the residency requirements for divorce, a legal separation may be the best place for you to begin.
Initial Forms for a Traditional Divorce
There are several forms that are required in any divorce, and some of them may vary depending on your situation. The first form is the Petition – Marriage/Domestic Partnership, which includes basic information about your marriage and what you want in the divorce. A Summons (Family Law) must be filed, as well. This will lay out restrictions on what you and your spouse will be able to do with your assets and accounts. It also will prevent your spouse from moving out of state with your children. The petition should list your property and debts by using the Property Declaration (Family Law) form. Those with shared children under the age of 18 also need to fill out the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody, Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. If you need the court to make orders regarding custody and visitation, the Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment should be included, as well.
Before these forms are filed, they should be reviewed by a divorce attorney, who can double-check that you have filled everything out correctly and are effectively communicating your needs
When you feel confident about the forms, they should be filed with the court. Be sure to keep at least two copies of everything. Various fees will apply, but if you cannot afford the fees, you may be able to get a waiver.
Serve the Papers to Your Spouse
Your spouse has the right to know that the legal process for divorce has begun, and that notification comes when he or she is served with the divorce papers. This needs to be done by a third party over the age of 18. The papers may be delivered by hand or by mail with a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt. If child support is needed, papers also need to be served to the local child-support agency.
Wait for a Response
Your spouse has 30 days to respond to the papers and note any areas with which he or she does not agree. Since there is an official open case, you should apply for temporary orders for child custody and visitation, child support and spousal support, if needed.
Share Financial Information
Within 60 days of filing your petition, you and your spouse will need to provide full financial information to one another for review. This includes the last two years of tax returns.
Resolve Issues Related to Finances and Custody
Your spouse might agree to everything you want on the first try but most likely will not. Divorce lawyers are skilled in helping you restate your position and negotiate through a variety of methods, including arbitration and mediation. If necessary, they will help you prepare to present your case to a judge. Eventually, the issues will be resolved by you or the court. Both spouses need to fill out a Final Declaration of Disclosure. This explains your thought process and the logic involved in how you saw fit to divide assets and debts. When the divorce is final, you will receive the Judgment and Notice of Entry of Judgment in the mail.
Are There Different Courthouses?
San Diego County has several courthouses, but most divorce and related cases are heard at the family law courthouse 1409 4th Ave. or at the central courthouse at 1555 Sixth Ave., San Diego, CA 92101.
Even relatively “easy” divorces can have portions that are very complex. It is best for both parties to hire divorce lawyers they trust to help them through the process. The Law Office of Renkin and Associates is ready to help with divorce and a variety of family law issues. Contact us to schedule a consultation.
Additional California Divorce Resource