How Does the Divorce Process Work in California?
As you and your spouse start to grow apart and consider divorce, you may start to wonder where you would even start and what the process entails. It’s completely normal to feel confused, as the divorce process can be very complicated and there are a number of factors you must consider.
Our Rancho Cucamonga divorce attorneys understand how the divorce process in California works. We are well equipped to help you through every stage of the process and answer your questions so you are never feeling lost about what happens next.
Grounds for Divorce and Requirements
In a number of states, the spouse filing for divorce must provide a grounds for divorce in which the other spouse is considered at fault. This could be something such as abandonment or adultery. In California, the dissolution of marriage can be granted even if nobody was at fault. The couple can claim irreconcilable differences and this would be enough for the court to grant the dissolution. This is usually after a couple has tried to save the marriage but determined that it is broken down beyond remedy.
In order to file for divorce, one of the spouses must have been a California resident at a minimum of six months. Any less than that and the divorce petition may not be filed. In addition, it is required that you must live within the county in which you file for a minimum of three months prior to filing the petition. This is the beginning of the process for divorces in California and making sure you are eligible to file is the best place to start.
Dissolution vs. Divorce
In certain situations, a couple may qualify for summary dissolution, or a simple divorce. Dissolution is applicable for couples who have been married fewer than five years, don’t own real estate, have no children, and have limited debts and / or property. In a simple divorce, both spouses create their own agreement regarding property and debt division for filing. There are no extra procedures that you have to take and court is not necessary.
The Divorce Process in California
In situations where a simple divorce is not applicable, there are various steps you must follow to file for divorce.
- The person who files for divorce must serve the other person with the paperwork informing them of the action. A party unrelated to the case must serve the papers; it cannot be the person who files for divorce. The individual who serves the papers would need to document that the paperwork was actually given to the other spouse.
- The respondent must file a response to the petition within 30 days. In some cases, the responding spouse may either refuse to respond to the petition or the server may not be able to locate the spouse. In these cases, other action may be taken and the court may make a decision without the response.
- One of the parties may file for an Order to Show Cause hearing in which they would be able to request temporary court orders. The judge will be able to make temporary orders regarding child support, custody, alimony, visitation rights, and more.
- The discovery process begins and the spouses will exchange information regarding finances, property, assets, and more. During discovery, the preparation of the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure is required. This form is provided by the court so spouses can list the property that is considered separate or community. The spouses must also exchange income and expense declarations.
- After discovery, all parties — spouses and attorneys — discuss the possible settlement of the case. If the two spouses can reach an agreement during the settlement phase, one of the attorneys can prepare the Marital Settlement Agreement. The spouses and their attorneys will sign the contract to help make it official.
- If the two spouses can’t reach an agreement regarding all of the issues involved, the next step would be for them to go to trial. It is advisable for the couples to reach an agreement on the factors of the divorce as going to trial would put the judge in charge of your divorce.
- After the settlement or trial, one of the attorneys will get the Judgement of Dissolution of Marriage ready. This contains all of the court’s orders and the agreements regarding support, custody, and more. After the judgment is filed, a Notice of Entry of Judgment is mailed to each attorney by the court.
It is important to know how complex the divorce process is and why it is beneficial to have legal assistance during these matters.