Divorce is something you can’t avoid especially when in a toxic marriage relationship. You can seek divorce if your marriage or domestic partnership has hit a dead end. It’s believed that 50% of marriages end up in divorce in the world. Recent reports suggest a lower percentage, however. What are the steps for how to divorce in California?
Regardless of the data, you’re most likely reading this article because you’re going through the minefield of a hectic divorce judgment process. Most types of divorce share the same characteristics. Only a few circumstances make filing for marital dissolution more difficult. Read on to learn about how to divorce in California.
The California Long Arm Statute
The long-arm statute pertains to the court’s ability to issue orders over:
- Property issues
- Custody issues
- Financial issues, and
- Other legal benefits.
This takes a specific waiting period after the submission of a complaint about divorce. If a party merely wants to terminate the marriage, the court only needs personal jurisdiction. This means that the party seeking the divorce needs to have resided in California for 6 months and in the county for 3 months.
On the other hand, orders on child custody and parenting issues require subject matter jurisdiction. Orders demanding payment of money need personal jurisdiction. However, orders on property division of the marital estate may need subject matter and personal jurisdiction.
How Does the Location of the Parent Affect Child Custody?
If one of the parents lived in California with minor children for at least six months before filing for divorce, the court in California can make custody orders and other decisions on parenting time. The court has subject matter jurisdiction over minor children if marital misconduct takes place.
However, things become different if the other parent with the obligation to pay child support lives in Ireland. You’ll, therefore, commence a support proceeding in Ireland. The California court cannot establish personal jurisdiction over that parent through the long-arm statute.
What Happens When You File for Divorce in Your Local Area?
If you file for divorce in your local area, the California family law court must have personal jurisdiction over the respondent during the divorce action . This enables you to legally proceed over:
- The divorce
- The child custody arrangement, and
- Other legal services.
Your spouse must agree to the complaint about divorce.
Also, there exists a long-arm statute or international treaty that permits the court to oversee the case as a neutral party. You will need to research if the family law court in your area has jurisdiction over the out-of-country spouse. This enables it to oversee marital dissolution and other legal requirements.
Filing the Marital Dissolution Petition
Next, once you can confirm that the probate and family court does have jurisdiction over your case, you will need to prepare and file the marital dissolution petition. The petition for divorce as an alternative dispute resolution may include:
- A proposed preliminary divorce settlement
- An income and expense declaration (if you seek spousal support or child support)
- A detailed list of marital property, debts, and separate property
- Any related child custody information and residency requirements
Upon filling the marital dissolution petition through a streamlined process, you will have to complete a court summons that will need service to your spouse and your divorce attorneys. They’ll then get notified of the pending action and legal issues in your divorce records.
If any fee waiver is available during the divorce proceedings, they’ll also get informed. For the case of a divorce without children, the judgment of divorce will state the actions to take. A contested divorce mostly happens when there’re major issues with custody of children or division of property.
How Do You Translate Divorce Documents for Service?
Contact the U.S. Embassy in the country your spouse resides in to determine if the original petition for divorce and summons needs a translation before the default judgment. You should hire a certified language translator to prepare a translation of the divorce petition and summons when filing your separation agreement.
You’ll therefore need to serve the English and foreign language petition and summons on the respondent whether it’s a -fault divorce or no-fault divorce.
Service by Voluntary Acknowledgment
To conveniently serve a spouse out of the country, they must cooperate with the legal process. They should also voluntarily accept the service of the divorce paperwork. As a step guide, you can simply mail your spouse the divorce summons, petitions, and other pertinent documentation.
Also, attach a notice of acknowledgment and receipt. Your spouse can voluntarily accept the service of the documents by signing the acknowledgment that you’ll later file with the court.
The Process of Formally Serving an Out-Of-Country Spouse
Since the respondent resides out of the country, the service of process will likely follow the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters.
This convention outlines specific step instructions to properly serve a respondent abroad with a divorce petition and summons. The convention takes effect upon the satisfaction of the following requirements:
Hague Convention Service
Article 2 of the convention designates one main channel for the transmission of legal documents. Each contracting state to the convention should designate a central authority for processing and executing valid requests.
To serve divorce papers under this convention, you will need to complete the form USM 94 from the U.S. Marshal’s Office. Send the form along with two copies of the divorce papers and summons (including English and translated copies as mentioned above).
You should address this to the central authority in the country your spouse resides. If everything goes per plan, the service takes effect. You will receive proper proof of service.
Before the enactment of the Hague Convention, service of the process got effectuated through the issuance of letters rogatory. The letter’s rogatory procedure allows a local court to make a formal request to a suitable court in the foreign jurisdiction for the issuance of process. This request allows the issuance of foreign summons on the respondent by a foreign court.
The foreign ministry then forwards the divorce petition and summons for acknowledgment of service to the local court where the respondent resides. The local court takes all the necessary steps to arrange for the service of the process on the respondent.
What about a Certificate of Service as Proof?
Most foreign countries issue a certificate of service as proof of completion and then provide it to the U.S.-based court. If all goes well in serving the respondent the paperwork that grants access to marriage records, they’ll have permission to come to the United States to appear in court through a legal notice.
If not so, they’ll have the option of scheduling a teleconference with the judge. From there, the proceedings will emulate a normal divorce process. The parties also have the option of agreeing to all of the issues and signing a marital settlement agreement, which will eliminate the need for any court hearings.
Do You Need Help with How to Divorce in California?
Learning how to divorce someone in another country may seem a stressful and energy-draining process of active duty. We hope this article has given you the tools necessary to make this process easier. For more information about filing for divorce and help with your divorce paperwork, please contact A People’s Choice at 800-747-2780.