Steps of the Divorce Process
The divorce process is different depending on whether it is uncontested or contested. To get an uncontested divorce in California, the parties agree on everything. The parties sign a Marital Settlement Agreement which explains how they want to settle all the issues. Afterward, the judge just has to approve their agreement.
In a contested divorce, one spouse makes requests in their divorce petition, and the other spouse files a response including their own requests. After a formal trial, a judge will decide on the terms of the divorce. Sometimes the court will order the couple to a mediator to help them reach an agreement.
In either of the above proceedings, every divorce involves the following preliminary steps:
- Filing a divorce petition (FL-100)
- Formally notifying your spouse that you have filed for divorce (Summons (FL-110)
- File the financial documents related to your divorce (Declaration of Disclosure FL-140, Schedule of Assets and Debts FL-142, and Income and Expense Declaration FL-150)
After that, the process to get a divorce in California varies according to the level of conflict. If the parties can agree about property division, support and custody matters, they sign a marital settlement agreement. Then the judge issues a final decree of divorce, making the terms of the marital settlement agreement legally binding. If they do not agree, they go to mediation, and sometimes even to trial.
How to Get a Default Divorce in California
If your spouse does not respond to your divorce petition, you can still get divorced. Some spouses simply disappear. Others may choose not to file a response because they don’t object to the requests in the petition. In addition, they may not want to pay the filing fee for the response. If your spouse does not file a response within 31 days of receiving the divorce petition, you can file a Request to Enter Default and submit the required Judgment documents. The requirements for these final documents will vary based on the issues surrounding your marriage. The court will set a termination date for the marriage, but it cannot be sooner than six months after your spouse was served the Summons and Petition.
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