California Divorce2021-04-02T17:15:16-07:00

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Includes response to petition pleading, written settlement agreement, document review by our professional team, coordination of court filings and notices, and premium case management services.

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Common questions about divorce services

I cannot locate my spouse to serve divorce papers2021-03-15T09:08:09-07:00

In order to complete the California divorce process, the other party must be provided legal notice of the divorce proceedings. This can be done by 1) voluntary acceptance of the documents, 2) personal service of the documents, or 3) legal publication.

Using Investigator in California Divorce To Locate Spouse

If you have filed a California divorce, cannot find your spouse and you want to go ahead with the process, you may be able to serve them through legal publication. In order for the court to allow one party to serve the other party through legal publication, attempts must be made to find the missing spouse. This is typically done by hiring an investigator (usually approximately $100-$150) to try to find a current address for the missing spouse. The investigator will give a formal report of their investigative results and in many cases, will find a valid address for personal service.

Serving by Publication in Divorce When You Cannot Find Spouse

In some instances the investigator may not be able to find a viable address for service and a spouse cannot be found. At that point, application can be made to the court showing what attempt has been made to find the other party and ask that the court allow the party to be served through publication. This means that the Summons will be published once and week for 4 weeks in a newspaper approved by the court to offer notice to the missing spouse. Service by publication is complete at the end of the 28th day after the first date the document is published in the newspaper. If at any point during the 28 days of publication you find your spouse or partner’s address, you must have someone 18 or older mail a copy of the documents to him or her and file a Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) and return to you to file with the court.

A People’s Choice is ready to help with your California divorce documents

A People’s Choice is a unique online service that provides custom, hands-on help for our clients, preparing their California divorce and family law forms as well as filing them with the court.

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What document is considered my divorce decree?2021-03-15T09:08:19-07:00

When a California divorce Judgment has been entered, there are two important documents.

  1. Judgment (FL-180)
  2. Notice of Entry of Judgment (FL-190)

The Judgment has the details of the division of assets, debts, child support, custody, visitation, etc. If the parties sign a Marital Settlement Agreement, that is typically attached to and is a part of the Judgment document.  This document would be considered the divorce decree of Judgment.

The Notice of Entry of Judgment is simply a Notice of court action. This document has the date of termination of the marriage and lets both parties know that the case is now considered concluded by the court.

If many of our cases, the Judgment is entered months before the termination date of the marriage. Be aware that the court will not send any subsequent documentation to the parties regarding the termination date. The termination date will simply pass and at that point the parties are free to remarry.

A People’s Choice is ready to help with your California divorce documents

A People’s Choice is a unique online service that provides custom, hands-on help for our clients, preparing their California divorce and family law forms as well as filing them with the court.

Start My Divorce

How long does it take to settle an uncontested divorce?2021-03-15T09:08:28-07:00

Most uncontested divorces can be resolved within 2 to 7 months. California family law requires a six-month period from the time the respondent is served with the court summons and divorce papers to allow a divorce to be finalized. This means a judgment for divorce can be entered six months from the day the respondent is properly served. In most of our cases, however, the parties have reach an agreement within as very short period of time after filing. As a result, many of our divorce cases are completed with the entry of a Final Judgment in 2-3 months. After the Judgment has been entered by the court, the six month “waiting period” simply continues to run. Once the time has expired, the parties are free to remarry. The date the parties are legally considered “single” is clearly stated on the Notice of Entry of Judgment.

How soon can a Judgment of divorce be entered in California?2021-03-15T09:08:35-07:00

Once you file the divorce petition and serve it on your spouse, the earliest effective date of termination of marital status will be six months and 1 day from the date your spouse was served the divorce papers. The actual Judgment can be entered prior to this termination date and can be submitted  to the court for processing any time starting 31 days after your spouse was served.

A People’s Choice is ready to help with your California divorce documents

A People’s Choice is a unique online service that provides custom, hands-on help for our clients, preparing their California divorce and family law forms as well as filing them with the court.

Start My Divorce

What is an uncontested divorce?2021-03-15T09:08:44-07:00

An uncontested divorce is when both parties agree to the settlement terms of the divorce. This means that the parties agree on the division of assets, debts, child custody and visitation, child support, retirement benefits, and alimony. An uncontested divorce means there no issues in disagreement between the parties that require the court to resolve.

What is the residency requirement for California divorce?2021-03-15T08:54:28-07:00

The residency requirement for California divorce provides that at least one of the spouses has to have been a resident of the state of California for at least six months before filing the divorce petition. You must also live in the county where you file the divorce petition for at least three months before filing. If neither spouse meets the six month residency requirement for California divorce, they can file a legal separation and then amend the Petiton at a later time once they have met the residency requirements.

What are the grounds for California divorce?2021-03-15T08:54:40-07:00

California was the first state to adopt the “no-fault divorce” concept. This means that the grounds for California divorce  are simply “irreconcilable differences.” In effect, this simply means that a married person who wants to end the marriage can do so, even if the other spouse wants to stay together. In the past, most states only granted divorces on fault grounds, but today all states have adopted a form of no fault divorce. In a no fault divorce,  neither party is held responsible for the failure of the marriage. This means that the grounds for California divorce are not based on adultery, cruelty, abandonment, mental illness, or criminal conviction, and such allegations will not prove or impose any extra advantage in the outcome of the divorce proceedings to the aggrieved spouse.

What are ways to serve divorce papers?2021-03-15T09:09:33-07:00

There are several ways divorce, legal separation or annulment papers can be served on the other party.

Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt: In most of our cases, the other party simply voluntarily signs a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt. By signing this form, they voluntary accept service of the papers. Signing this form does not mean they agree with what the Petition asks for, but simply avoids having to be formally served by a process server. Since the divorce “clock” starts on the day of service, if your spouse has been provided with the paperwork and a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt but is delaying returning it, you may want to have them formally served.

Formal Service: If a person is not willing to sign a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt, you should arrange to serve them by a process server. The fee for this service will vary but usually costs between $75-$150. If attempt has been made for serve a party through a process server and they are unsuccessful, you may need to ask the court permission to serve them by publication.

Service by Publication: Sometimes a spouse goes missing and their whereabouts are unknown. The court will allow a party to serve their spouse by publication after showing that they have made every effort to find them. Efforts include 1) investigative report by private investigator 2) request for forwarding address with post office 3) internet and social media search and 3) contacting relatives and friends. Most courts will accept a professional investigative report but other courts require every effort to be made before approving an application to serve by Publication.

What are the steps for an uncontested divorce?2021-03-15T09:09:25-07:00

In order for our office to provide the lowest cost of services to our clients, we have made every effort to streamline the legal process into several easy, defined steps to help you complete your  proceedings in the most efficient way. Here is what you should expect when using A People’s Choice for your divorce, legal separation or annulment.

Online Interview Process: Once you have retained our office (signed required contract and processed your payment for our fees) we will need to gather statistical facts about your case. To do this in the most time and cost efficient way we have created an online interactive interview process which captures all the information we will need to prepare your paperwork. The link to the interview will be emailed to you. The online interview normally takes between 10-25 minutes depending on the complexity of your particular case.

Petitioner’s Dissolution Documents: Our office prepares all the standard documents required to be filed with the court in your proceeding. To streamline the signing of the standard documentation, our office prepares most on the front end. Once you have completed the interview process, our office will send you (the Petitioner) all the documents you will need to sign to start your divorce case. In addition, we will include some other documents that we will need later down the road. You will see that some documents will be dated and others will not. We will send you a detailed email with the documents with instructions on what you need to do next.

Filing of your Case: Once you have signed your documents and returned the originals to us with the court filing fee check, we will then send them to the court for processing. The time it takes for the court will vary based on your choice on how you wish us to process your paperwork. We will send you the filing options when we send you your divorce paperwork to sign. Some options are faster than others, some are cheaper than others, so please review the filing options and decide what best fits your needs and budget.

Petitioner and Respondent Packages: Once you reach step this step, you will have an active divorce case. Upon receiving your filed paperwork from the court which will give you  CASE NUMBER, we will generate two separate packages for you with detailed instructions on the next steps to proceed. We typically send these package by email in pdf format. You will need to print them off on your end. In these packets, you will find your FILED Petition which will need to be given to the Respondent.

Marital Settlement Agreement: If you paid for our office to prepare a Marital Settlement agreement, you will find a draft copy of your marital settlement agreement in your package attached to Step 3. This document addresses all the issues required by the court. Our office includes one FREE revision of the Marital Settlement Agreement. Supplemental revisions after the first revision will incur added charges.

Return of Signed Documents: Once you and your spouse have completed all aspects of the steps included in each of your packages, you can now return all the signed documents to our office. Once this has been done, we will be able to send your final judgment to the court for filing. We cannot send the Final Judgment documents to the court for processing until at least 31 days after the date your spouse has been served or signed the voluntary acknowledgment.

Submission of Final Judgment: At the proper time, if you have provided everything requested, we will send the Final Judgment to the court for processing. The amount of time the court takes to process the Final Judgment varies but on average it is about 3-8 weeks. Once the Judgment has been signed, your case is considered concluded. Our office will give you a copy of your filed judgment if the court returns it to our office. Sometimes depending on the county in which you filed, the court will mail the judgment directly to you. In divorce proceedings, pay particular attention to the Date of Termination of Marriage as often our cases are concluded BEFORE THAT DATE HAS PASSED. Once that date passes, you are considered single and free to remarry. You will NOT get any more paperwork from the court.

How long does it take to get a divorce in California?2021-03-15T09:13:43-07:00

How long does it take to get a divorce in California? Well, there are two separate dates to keep in mind – 1) when the case has been completed and a Judgment entered, and 2)  when a divorce is terminated.

Divorce – The clock starts ticking as soon as the other party is served with the Petition. From this date, the earliest termination date that can be entered (when the parties are considered single) is 6 months plus 1 day from the date of service. For example, if a Petition for dissolution was filed January 1st, but not served on the other party until March 1st, the earliest termination date of the parties marriage would be September 2nd.  It is important to understand that the termination date of the marriage is different than the date the Judgment is entered. Keep in mind, however, that the court proceedings can be completed long before this termination date. In most of our cases, when the parties agree and timely complete their steps in the process, the court proceedings can be concluded and a Judgment entered within 2-3 months. In our earlier example, a final Judgment could be submitted on April 2nd and entered by the court shortly afterwards. As you can see, a Final Judgment can be entered by the court months before the real “marriage termination” date. The parties would not be able to remarry until after the termination date noted on the Notice of Entry of Judgment.

On the other hand, if the parties do not agree, the other side files a Response and the matter proceeds to trial, this will substantially delay the process. Often the setting of a trial may not take place for a year or two after the Petition is filed.

Legal Separation – There is no termination date in a legal separation. The time-line process is exactly the same as a divorce, except for the termination date. Once a Judgment of Legal Separation is entered, the case is completed.

Annulment – An annulment always requires a court hearing. A hearing can be requested 30 days after the date of service. At the hearing, a Judgment can be entered if the annulment is approved and the case is completed at that time. There is no future “termination date”  and parties would be able to remarry immediately.

How can I settle my divorce without going to court?2021-03-15T08:55:36-07:00

If you and your spouse cannot agree, you may be able to use mediation to resolve your divorce disputes. Mediation allows each party to discuss concerns and specific issues that need to be resolved. If divorce issues can be settled through mediation, then the divorce case can proceed as an uncontested matter and most likely neither party will need to appear in court. Sometimes, if there has been a substantial delay since the case was filed, you may have to attend a status hearing to provide a judge with an update what is going on in the case. Contact us if you have questions about how to settle your case without going to court.

Can the parties agree to waive the required Financial Disclosures?2021-03-15T08:54:10-07:00

California law requires financial disclosure in divorce. This means that both parties are mandated by law to exchange financial information which includes a statement of assets and debts and community and separate property. There are two disclosures that are required under California law, the preliminary disclosure and the final disclosure. When the parties sign a marital settlement agreement, the preliminary disclosures between the parties cannot be waived under any circumstances.  If there is no marital settlement agreement and the matter is proceeding as a default case, the Petitioner will have to complete the mandatory preliminary disclosure but can waive Respondent’s preliminary disclosure. Failure to properly complete the preliminary disclosure process could result in a final Judgment being later set aside. The final disclosure can be mutually waived by both parties.

Do I need to hire an attorney to file for a divorce?2021-03-15T08:58:19-07:00

If you and your spouse agree to all the issues, you do not need to hire an attorney to file an uncontested divorce. Most people can navigate through the family law system on their own accord with the help of A People’s Choice for the paperwork. On the other hand, if the matter becomes contested, you may want to give thoughtful consideration to determining your exact needs before rushing out and hiring a lawyer.  For example, some contested matters such as custody and visitation, can be easily handled without the need of an attorney. Often these matters proceed through mediation from which process the attorneys are excluded. In the end, the mediator offers their recommendation. In most cases, the Judge hearing the matter simply places his/her stamp of approval on the mediator’s recommendation.

Nowadays, people can hire an attorney under a limited scope of representation agreement. This means that you get more bang for your dollar by being able to use a non-attorney such as A People’s Choice for necessary document preparation and an attorney for any complex court hearings. Contact our office to discuss your needs. We can explain how other clients have handled similar situations using our services so you can make the best choice for yourself.

My spouse cheated. Do I have to still pay support?2021-03-15T08:58:36-07:00

The faithfulness of a spouse generally has no bearing on child or spousal support. California family law requires both parents to pay child support. However, one parent may be required to pay more support than the other if he/she earns more money and spends less time with the child.

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