THE CALIFORNIA
DIVORCE PROCESS
If You Are Considering Divorce, or Have Already Made
the Decision to Seek a Divorce in Cali...
The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com
2
No one who enters into a marriage or registered domestic partnersh...
The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com
3
NOTE: For practical purposes the terms “marriage” and “spouse” wil...
The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com
4
and the marriage as well as tells the court what the Petitioner (t...
The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com
5
what you asked for in the Petition. If the Respondent does file an...
The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com
6
REACHING AN OUT OF COURT SETTLEMENT
Reaching an out of court settl...
The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com
7
present witnesses and introduce evidence in support of their posit...
The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com
8
About Diamond Law Firm
Experts in Legal and Financial Consideratio...
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The California Divorce Process

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If you are considering divorce, or have already made the decision to seek a divorce in California, you likely have a number of questions and concerns about the actual legal steps necessary to end your marriage.

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The California Divorce Process

  1. 1. THE CALIFORNIA DIVORCE PROCESS If You Are Considering Divorce, or Have Already Made the Decision to Seek a Divorce in California You Likely Have a Number of Questions and Concerns about the Actual Legal Steps Necessary to End Your Marriage
  2. 2. The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com 2 No one who enters into a marriage or registered domestic partnership plans for the marriage/partnership to end in divorce; however, sometimes ending a marriage/partnership is the best option. If you are considering divorce, or have already made the decision to seek a divorce in California you likely have a number of question and concerns about the actual legal steps necessary to end your marriage. Just as no two marriages/partnerships are exactly the same; no two divorce processes follow the exact same steps or encounter the exact same issues along the way. Moreover, only an experienced California family law attorney can evaluate your unique situation and provide you with specific advice and guidance; however, there are some common steps in a California divorce as well as some common issues that parties to a divorce may face during the process. Therefore, a basic overview of the California divorce process may help get you started on your divorce.
  3. 3. The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com 3 NOTE: For practical purposes the terms “marriage” and “spouse” will be used throughout this paper; however, the information contained herein applies to registered domestic partnerships in California as well. RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT In order to file for divorce in California one of the parties to the divorce must have been a resident of the State of California for at least six months prior to the filing of the Petition for Divorce and a resident of the county where the Petition is filed for three months prior to filing. GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE California is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that you are not required to prove that your spouse did anything wrong to be granted a divorce. The Petition will simply claim that the parties have “irreconcilable differences” and, therefore, wish to end the marriage. FILING THE PETITION To begin the divorce process one spouse must file a Petition for Divorce along with a Summons. If there are minor children of the marriage a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), form must also be filed. The Petition sets forth some basic information about the parties
  4. 4. The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com 4 and the marriage as well as tells the court what the Petitioner (the person initiating the divorce) is asking the court to do. Along with granting the divorce you might also be asking the court to give you custody of the children or possession of the marital residence, for example. The Summons is a legal document that officially notifies your spouse that the divorce has been initiated. It also informs your spouse that he/she must file a formal Answer with the court or risk losing certain rights in the divorce. The UCCJEA is a form that is required to provide the court with information concerning the minor children in the divorce. Once the preliminary documents have been filed with the court they must be served on the Respondent (your spouse). Someone other than the Petitioner who is over the age of 18 must serve the Respondent and file proof of service with the court. ANSWERING THE PETITION After the respondent is served he/she has 30 days within which to file a formal written Answer with the court. If the Respondent fails to file an Answer with the court within the allotted time frame, and the two of you have not reached an out of court agreement regarding all the issues in your divorce, you can ask the court to grant you a default judgment. In essence, this allows you to get most of what you asked for in the Petition unless the court sees a reason to deny you
  5. 5. The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com 5 what you asked for in the Petition. If the Respondent does file an Answer with the court the divorce will move on to the discovery stage. DISCOVERY STAGE Once both parties have filed their initial pleadings with the court the case will move to what is referred to as the “discovery stage”. During the discovery stage both sides will seek information relevant to the divorce from the opposing party. Requests for Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, and Depositions might be filed or scheduled. In essence, this is a fact finding mission where your attorney will try and find out as much information about your spouse as possible. For example, your attorney might request financial records, retirement account statements, and tax returns from your spouse and vice versa. Depositions might be taken as well. A deposition is an opportunity to ask the opposing party questions pertaining to issues in the divorce, under oath, but outside of the court room. If custody of minor children is a contested issue in the divorce the court may also appoint a guardian ad litem to determine what is in the best interest of the children. Homes studies might also be ordered along with psychological evaluations and/or drug testing. The court must decide what is in the best interest of the children and will use any means available to accomplish that goal.
  6. 6. The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com 6 REACHING AN OUT OF COURT SETTLEMENT Reaching an out of court settlement is the best possible outcome for everyone involved. Not only does it save time and money but it also avoids the emotional trauma that a contentious court battle inevitably causes. If the parties do not appear to be able to reach a settlement by themselves the court will likely order mediation. Mediation usually takes place at the mediator’s office, not the courthouse. The mediator is often an attorney who has taken additional classes to become certified as a mediator. The mediator is a neutral party who works with both sides to try and reach a resolution. If you are able to reach an out of court settlement your attorney will reduce the agreement to writing in the form of a “stipulated judgment” and file the agreement with the court along with all other necessary paperwork needed to finalize the divorce. Note that California has a six month waiting period, or “cooling off” period. This means that even if you and your spouse agree to all the terms of the divorce from the beginning the divorce cannot be finalized for at least six months after the Petition is filed. Of course, it can take much longer than six months but in no case can it be finalized in less than six months. LETTING THE COURT DECIDE – GOING TO TRIAL If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement that resolves all of the issues in the divorce you will need to set the matter for trial. At trial, both sides will
  7. 7. The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com 7 present witnesses and introduce evidence in support of their position. Ultimately, the judge or jury will decide the issues. Taking your divorce to trial can take months, even years and does come with a certain amount of risk because there is no way to know with any degree of certainty what a judge or jury will decide. Once the judge or jury has decided the contested issues the court will reduce the decisions to writing in the form of a final judgment and the divorce will be final. As you can see, the single biggest factor in determining how long and hoe complicated a divorce will be is the degree to which the parties are able to agree or not agree on the issues. The more adversarial and contentious the divorce the longer it will take to complete. If you are planning to divorce, consult with an experienced California family law attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process. California Courts, Overview of the Court Process California Courts, Divorce or Separation California Court, Legal Steps for a Divorce or Legal Separation
  8. 8. The California Divorce Process www.diamondlawfirm.com 8 About Diamond Law Firm Experts in Legal and Financial Considerations Related to Divorce and Family Law Joseph Diamond has worked in Family Law since 1995 and he is also an Experienced Certified Public Accountant. This is a special expertise that will protect you and your assets. John Diamond is an attorney that has focused his practice in family law since 1995. He has served as a Pro Tem Judge in family law cases in both Los Angeles and Ventura County. Therese Diamond was awarded a Certificate as a paralegal from the University Of LaVerne School Of Law in 1994 and has worked with the Diamond Law Firm as a Certified Paralegal in their Family Law Practice since 1995. Are you ready to file for divorce in Los Angeles County? Is there going to be a dispute with your spouse about child custody, child support payments, division of assets, spousal support (alimony), or valuation of property? Should you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement? Do you want to challenge or defend a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement? At Diamond Law Firm our Northridge, Granada Hills Encino and West Hills divorce and family lawyers are dedicated to protecting and work hard to protect our clients’ rights. When facing a contentious family court matter, demand an experienced and successful law firm, Diamond Law Firm. We are an experienced law firm and when we are on your side you can count on having a firm that will always put your interests first. Diamond Law Firm will provide the knowledgeable representation you need and deserve! Diamond Law Firm 9457 Gerald Avenue Northridge, CA 91343 Phone: 818-891-8840 Email: diamond4law@gmail.com Website: www.diamondlawfirm.com

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