Keeping track of the timeline for divorce doesn’t just mean counting down the days until the final judgment. Believe it or not, making a note of some of the most important dates is imperative for a successful divorce. In fact, there are certain dates you need to know to understand when your divorce is actually complete. Therefore, losing track of this information could cause serious problems in your case.
Dates to Mark Down in Your Timeline for Divorce
Keep close tabs on the progression of your divorce to ensure a timely finalization and complete legal protection. To do so, mark down the following dates as they occur in your calendar or somewhere safe:
1. Date of Separation
The date of separation varies for every divorcing couple. Even so, it is an incredibly important date in the timeline for divorce. In some states, including California, the date of separation is the official date the parties decided to terminate their marriage. For example, one spouse moving out of the house may indicate the date of separation. Identifying and remembering this date is important as the court will use it to calculate spousal support and the division of property. For instance, if one spouse purchased a new home after the date of separation (but while the couple was still legally married), it may actually be considered separate property.
2. Date of Filing Petition for Dissolution
After the date you file your initial petition for dissolution of your marriage with the court, you have 60 days to serve your spouse. If you are not able to serve your spouse with the preliminary disclosure documents within this timeline, you must file a written request to the court for extended time.
Further, if you cannot locate your spouse to serve them, you can request a Motion to Serve by Publication or Posting. This allows you to serve your spouse by publishing a notice of the divorce in a newspaper or at the courthouse. However, the court will require extensive proof of your attempt to locate your spouse before granting you the motion.
Regardless of your situation, if you do not serve your spouse nor request an extension before the 60 days end, the court may dismiss your case. If this happens, you will need to re-file your petition for dissolution.
3. Date of Service on Your Spouse
Within 30 days of service, your spouse must file a response to your petition with the court. That said, your spouse does not necessarily have to file a response. Instead, they may choose to do nothing. In this case, the court clerk will enter a Request to Enter Default. On the other hand, your spouse may agree with you on all matters and choose to sign a marital settlement agreement. Otherwise, if needed, both spouses may request an extension of the 30 day deadline to file a response to a petition for divorce.
4. Date of Filing a Response
Once your spouse files a response to your petition, they have 60 days to serve you with their preliminary disclosures. Then, once both spouses have been served and documents have been filed with the court, it’s a waiting game. At this point, it’s up to the court to schedule and conduct a series of hearings to determine rulings on contested issues. For example, the judge may order child or spousal support. In certain cases, this process can include discovery.
The purpose of discovery is to allow each party to learn about the assets, debts, and other issues they must resolve to complete the divorce. In fact, the court usually will not set a trial date until both parties have completed their discovery. Discovery can last anywhere from two to 18 months. However, sometimes the judge can extend the time for discovery to allow both sides to collect the information needed to support their position. Ultimately, once the court has reviewed the necessary information and made a decision on all matters of the divorce, the judge will sign a judgment for dissolution of marriage.
5. Date of Final Judgment
Receiving a signed judgment for dissolution of your marriage may seem like a weight off your shoulders; however, this is not the end of your marriage. In fact, a divorce is not final until the clerk enters the judgment into the court record. Upon entering judgement, the clerk will date stamp the documents and provide each party a copy of the order. Receiving this official court document confirms the termination of your marriage.
6. Marital Termination Date
In California, if you receive a final judgment, either by default or following court proceedings, before six months plus one day after the date you served your spouse, you may not be legally divorced just yet. Instead, the final judgment may list a “marital termination date”. This is the date your marriage is officially ended, per California law.
Speed Up Your Timeline for Divorce With A People’s Choice
The divorce timeline can sometimes last much longer than you want it to, even if you keep track of the important dates throughout the process. Luckily, there are ways to speed it up. For example, working with A People’s Choice to ensure accurate completion of your legal documents can help avoid any denied petitions. Plus, we offer attorney-free low cost divorce services and can even help you file your forms with your local court! Contact us or use our Quick Start Interview to start your divorce today.
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