Divorce sounds daunting and ominous. Though it can be a relief to dissolve a marriage, divorce is, well, still scary. An uncertain future, complicated forms full of legal speak, arguing back and forth with your spouse, and appearing in court, it’s all intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. Come with us as we break down the steps to divorce in California.
STEP 1: FILING THE PAPERWORK
The divorce process begins when one spouse files a petition for divorce with their local court. The petition provides the court with important and relevant information. This includes the full names of each spouse and any children they share, the date of the marriage, and the reason for the divorce.
STEP 2: SERVE YOUR SPOUSE
Once you fill out and submit the proper forms, the next step to divorce is to serve your spouse. In this divorce step, you present the papers to your spouse and make your intentions known.
STEP 3: RESPONSE
Once service is complete the non-filing spouse will have 30 days to respond to the divorce papers. How this part of the divorce unfolds will generally depend on whether spouses have a contested or uncontested divorce.
Contested Divorce: Spouses disagree about some or all of the terms of their divorce. This may include disputes about how property should be divided or who gets custody of the kids.
Uncontested Divorce: Spouses agree on all of the terms of their divorce. When this happens, the respondent can either ignore the divorce summons or file a response in which they agree to the terms.
If the respondent ignores the divorce papers or chooses not to respond, the divorce will be considered a default. In a default, the request for the divorce and the terms proposed by the petitioner will be granted. The respondent will have lost his or her right to contest any elements of the divorce.
STEP 4: NEGOTIATING THE TERMS OF THE DIVORCE
While it is possible for spouses to agree on all aspects of the divorce from the very beginning, it is not particularly common. Most divorces are contested. When spouses have a contested divorce they must do everything in their power to negotiate the terms of the split privately.
Issues that may have to be resolved in a divorce include:
- Property division
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support, and
STEP 5: TEMPORARY ORDERS
Over the course of a marriage, lives become intimately entangled. Divorce aims to untangle them, but the process takes time. In this situation, the question of what to do in the meantime often arises.
- Who gets the kids while the parents work through the divorce?
- If one spouse supports the other financially, what can you do?
- Who lives where?
- Who pays for what?
These are the steps to divorce where you can request temporary child custody, child support, or spousal support orders.
STEP 6: SETTLEMENT/NEGOTIATION
If you and your spouse are on the same page, divorce can go relatively smoothly. Especially in shorter marriages, ones without children, and those without a lot of shared assets to divide. In amicable divorces, hammering out the details may be a relatively straightforward and simple step to divorce. That said, reaching a settlement is where things often get messy.
If your spouse contests the divorce, things can become contentious. You may have to go to trial, or at least mediation, in order to hash out the division of property, custody arrangements, parenting plans, and all the other details of the divorce agreement.
The court may order a mandatory settlement conference, where both sides meet to settle the case. If both parties can come to terms, it’s possible to create a settlement agreement.
Speak to a California Divorce Attorney for Your Divorce Needs
We take that seriously and dedicate our skills, resources and experiences to ensure you get the best results for your future.
Contact our law firm today at 562-439-9001 if you or someone you know needs the help of an experienced family law attorney. We will be here for you when you call. Schedule a free consultation!
We are very central to all of Long Beach, Seal Beach, Lakewood, Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Newport Beach; and regularly serve all of Los Angeles.
This is intended as general advice and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Each situation is unique and requires specific analysis of relevant contracts, facts and legal obligations.