Divorce or marriage dissolution can occur for many reasons in a domestic partnership. If you research the categories of divorce issues and dissolution of marriage cases, you will notice that spouses who file for divorce do it on the ground of issues like infidelity and domestic violence with an abusive spouse. The California divorce process does not have to be financially ruinous, though.

Sometimes, the hardest part of the divorce process in California is getting started with the legal separation. Generally, you know how divorce works. One spouse files divorce papers, maybe the spouses go to court if they disagree about finances or child custody. Sometimes one spouse has to pay alimony after the divorce proceedings and judgment.

It sounds simple enough, but when you go to the self-service website of your county’s court system or read a self-help divorce book, it starts to sound a lot more confusing. Who knew that there was more than one type of divorce? Have you ever had the divorce process explained to you? Probably not. After all, there are so many different forms to fill out, and not every divorce case requires all of them, but which ones do you need for your case?

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…or continue reading the article below to learn more about the California divorce process.

Contested and Uncontested Divorce

The difference between contested and uncontested divorce is whether your spouse files a response to the divorce petition after you file for divorce. If your spouse does not file a response, the divorce is uncontested.

The court understands that your spouse agrees to all the terms you listed in your petition. There is no reason to hire a lawyer in an uncontested divorce. If your spouse files a response, the divorce case becomes contested.

The California Divorce Process: Contested Divorce

The most complex divorce cases are contested divorce cases, which means that the respondent submits a response to the petition for dissolution of marriage. This issue is a procedural requirement. If this happens, it means that the respondent does not agree with all the terms of the divorce that the petitioner included in the divorce petition for a legal separation. Some of the contested issues could include

  • Separate property assets
  • Division of property
  • Real property issues
  • Child custody issues, or
  • Custody agreements and residency requirements for minor children

This, therefore, calls for a formal divorce proceeding and basic steps for divorce summons in which all matters are heard in a family law courthouse and the appropriate decisions made by the judge. Such instances may also call for a divorce attorney. An experienced divorce attorney who specializes in family law matters helps in ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

The California Divorce Process: Uncontested Divorce

By contrast, in an uncontested divorce, the respondent does not file a response. Their lack of response means that they accept the terms listed in the petition and the California divorce process can proceed without a court-imposed order. Divorce lawyers to represent both parties will therefore not be applicable in this case therefore, there will be no need for excessive divorce cost in terms of attorney fees. The judge from a family law courthouse has to just sign off on the divorce petition and divorce forms and declare the marriage over. In an uncontested divorce, filing for divorce happens in six steps, listed below:

  • File a divorce petition at the family law clerk’s office stating the grounds for divorce. Your divorce paperwork should also contain your requests for the terms of the divorce, including possession of the marital home and, if applicable, parenting time and both community property, and personal property division.
  • Formally serve your spouse with the divorce papers and any additional document per the divorce laws
  • With declarations of disclosure, exchange information with your spouse in financial disclosures about each party’s assets, income, and debts.
  • Create and sign a marital settlement agreement. This may entail care for minor children and divorce settlement.
  • Submit a request to enter a default judgment. The soonest you can do this is 31 days after you serve your spouse with the divorce papers.
  • The court issues a divorce judgment. The judgment specifies the date that your marriage officially ends. The divorce decree (final judgment) will outline the terms of your agreement. That date must be within a six-month period after you served your spouse with divorce papers.

Therefore, you and your spouse will have to reach an agreement about alimony, child custody, division of assets other points of disagreement. If you cannot come to an agreement on your own, you will need to go to mediation or hire lawyers.

If Uncontested Divorce Does Not Work

california divorce process

The California divorce process can take many different paths apart from the regular divorce trials. Uncontested divorce (collaborative divorce) is easier than a contested divorce. It does not always work, though. If you and your spouse cannot agree on a marital settlement agreement the entire process will need additional steps and may require additional forms. You might also need a mediator an experienced family law attorney to help you work things out through a step-by-step guide. Divorce mediation normally seeks to bring both parties towards a formidable decision regarding their marriage.

The mediation services can get carried out either through private mediation or with the help of an experienced family law attorney. However, this may not demand any additional paperwork, filing fee, or attorney fees. Also, a judge in the family court can play some role in the mediation process. If you live in a county where the court-connected mediator may report to the court after unsuccessful mediation of child custody issues or child support, you might prefer the full confidentiality of private mediation.

Filing a Divorce Petition and Serving Your Spouse With Divorce Papers

No matter how long since physical separation from your spouse, and no matter how much you have discussed getting divorced, the dissolution of marriage procedure does not begin until one spouse files a divorce petition with the court. After you file for divorce, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the petition. this will mark the start of the entire divorce process

This requires you to have another adult deliver the petition to your spouse. The petition can be delivered using a service by mail or in person if possible. The six-month period countdown to when your divorce can become official begins on the day you serve your spouse with the divorce papers.

Division of Property in a California Divorce

california divorce process

In California, when one spouse files for divorce, each spouse gets to keep half of the marital assets and becomes responsible for half of the marital debts. Marital property is anything you acquired or any income you earned during the marriage such as real estate, automobiles, or other properties. If the parties’ incomes were very unequal during the marriage, the higher-earning spouse might have to pay alimony.

Summary Dissolution of Marriage in California

California offers a simplified divorce process called summary dissolution of marriage which is more common in counties like San Diego and San Jose. It is simpler, cheaper, and faster than conventional divorce. It only applies to couples who were married a short time, do not have children together, and own very little marital property.

A Legal Document Assistant Can Help You Get a Divorce

Choosing a legal document assistant to help you get through the California divorce process is a significant cost-savings solution for divorce especially when it is uncontested. Contact A People’s Choice at 800-747-2780 to get all the documents and self-help divorce books you need for your divorce professionally prepared.

Get started with your California divorce today!

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