What are the Steps Involved in the California Divorce Process

Manoj Prasad
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We consulted a family lawyer named Stephen Chen to better understand the divorce process in California. Stephen Chen is a certified family law specialist and founder of schenfamilylaw.com.

It can be hard to deal with divorce, but if you know the key steps then it will be easier. There are several important steps you need to take to get a divorce in California. Each one has its own things you should think about.

In California, this article will walk you through the whole process, whether you’re just thinking about getting a divorce or you’re already planned about it.

1. Residency Requirements

To get a divorce in California, you need to make sure you meet the rules for living there. At least one of you must have lived in the state and county where you are filing for the past six months.

The only reason for this is to make sure that California can handle your case.

A family law lawyer named Stephen Chen says that before you file for divorce, you should make sure that you or your spouse meet the residency standards. Something bad could happen or the process could take longer if you don’t do this.

2. Filing the Petition

In California, you must first file a case for divorce in order to begin the divorce process. People who want to get a divorce must file this paper with the county court in the place where one of them lives.

In it, you say why you want a divorce and list all the things you need to work out, such as who gets the kids, pays for them, gets paid, and gets what.

Mr. Chen, says that when you apply for a divorce, make sure that all of your information is correct and full. Any missing or wrong information can make things more difficult.

3. Serving the Spouse

Your partner needs to be served with the papers for the divorce after you file them. Usually, a process server will take care of this by delivering the papers in person. Your partner has 30 days to answer.

Mr. Chen, says it’s important to make sure the divorce papers are served correctly. If the other spouse can’t be found or doesn’t want to be served, the court may let papers be posted or published as another way to reach them.

4. Response and Disclosures

The spouse who got the divorce papers can choose to file an answer in response.

The respondent can say in this document whether they agree or disagree with the petitioner’s wishes about important issues like child custody, child support, property split, and more.

They might get a default ruling if they don’t answer within 30 days.

In addition to the response, both spouses are required to exchange certain financial disclosures, including:

  • Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-140)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
  • Schedule of Assets and Debts (Form FL-142)

Chen says, “The disclosure process is important because it ensures both parties have a clear understanding of marital assets and liabilities.” “It can lead to bad things if you hide or lie about financial information.”

5. Temporary Orders

In a divorce, either partner can ask the court for a short-term order. These orders say things like who gets to keep the kids, when they can visit, how much money the kids and spouse get, and who gets to use the family home. These short-term orders will stay in place until a final choice is made.

Stephen Chen says that temporary orders are important to protect the children and couples. The best way to make sure your needs are met is to get help from a lawyer.

6. Discovery and Settlement Negotiations

During the discovery process of a divorce, both parties share documents and information on their own time. This could mean asking for bank records, getting statements, and doing other kinds of investigations.

Its goal is to make sure that both people in the marriage fully understand their assets and bills.

During the discovery process, spouses and their lawyers generally talk things over informally to come to a fair agreement about things like dividing property, child custody and support, and spousal support. They can get a divorce without going to court if they can agree on everything.

According to Stephen Chen, “negotiation and compromise are the keys to a successful solution.” “A good lawyer will look out for your best interests and encourage you to work with others to solve problems.”

7. Trial and Judgment

Two people who are married will have to go to a divorce court if they can’t agree on anything. In court, both groups will have a chance to show proof, call witnesses, and make their case to the judge. In the end, the judge will decide what will happen with everything that is still uncertain.

In the eyes of the law, the marriage is over after the final decision, which is also known as a decree of dissolution. The court decides who gets to keep the kids, pay child support, get alimony, how the land is split, and anything else. That’s important. I’ll get everything ready and set up.

“Going through a divorce can be hard on your emotions and your finances,” says family law expert Stephen Chen. “It’s important to work closely with a skilled lawyer who can defend your case well.”

8. Post-Judgment Modifications

Things might not be totally fine even after the split is over. One of the executors may want to change some parts of the final deal from time to time.

This is especially true when it comes to child custody, child support, or spousal support. If there have been big changes in the situation since the choice was made, these changes may happen.

Expert Tips for Navigating the California Divorce Process

  1. Seek Legal Counsel: The complicated legal world of divorce can be very difficult to deal with, especially if you are not familiar with it. It is a good idea to hire a skilled family law attorney to help you, as they can advise you, protect your rights and ensure that everything runs smoothly.
  2. Prioritize Financial Disclosures: An important part of getting a divorce in California is sharing financial information and paperwork. It is important to be truthful and thorough, otherwise it can create problems and keep things stuck. Just make sure you stay in touch with your lawyer and financial advisor to get everything done on time.
  3. Consider Mediation or Collaborative Divorce: Divorce in regular court is one way to go, but you may also consider trying mediation or collaborative divorce. These methods often produce friendlier results that won’t break the bank. They focus on open communication and working together to find solutions that everyone can agree on.
  4. Understand the Emotional Toll: Divorce is a big deal and it can really take a toll on your emotions. It’s important to understand how this can affect your mental health and reach out for help if you need it. This may mean talking to a therapist, joining a divorce support group, or leaning on trusted loved ones.
  5. Plan for the Future: Even though it sucks to go through a divorce now, it’s important to think about how it will affect you in the long run. You may want to talk to some money experts, make changes to your will, and find out where you will live after a split and how to co-parent.

Frequently Ask Questions

  1. Legal separation is a way for a couple to split up and work out issues like money, kids, and other issues connected to the marriage without actually getting a divorce. On the other hand, a couple gets a divorce when their marriage ends legally and their formal bond with each other is broken.

  2. Do I need to hire a lawyer for a California divorce?Β 

    You don’t have to hire a divorce lawyer in California, but it’s a good idea to do so. Without the help of a professional, it can be very hard to handle all the legal paperwork, discussions, and other tasks that come up.

  3. How long does the California divorce process typically take?

    It depends on the specifics of the case as to how long it takes to complete a California divorce. It can be finished in 6 months if both people agree on everything and the divorce is simple and not disputed.

  4. Can I file for divorce in California if my spouse lives in another state?

    Yes, you can file a divorce in California, even if your partner lives in a different state. You can start the divorce process here if you have lived in California for at least six months. After that, you need to give your partner the divorce papers. This can be done in person or in a way that is allowed by the court.

  5. What if my spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers?

    You can divorce in California even if your partner won’t sign. A “default divorce” allows the court to grant a divorce based on the petitioner’s documentation and request, even if the opposing party is not involved. The non-signing spouse can react and join, but the court can decide without them.

  6. Do I have to go to court for a California divorce?

    Not all the time. You might have to go to court during your divorce, but there are ways you might be able to dodge a full trial.

  7. Can I get divorced in California if I was married in a different state?

    You can get a divorce in California even if you were married in another state as long as one of you or your partner has lived here for at least six months.

  8. What if my spouse tries to hide assets during the California divorce?

    In a California divorce, hiding or taking someone else’s property is a big deal and is against the law. Both partners have to tell the other everything they have when they break up.

  9. Can I modify the final divorce judgment in California?

    Yes, if some things have changed, you can try to change the full divorce choice. This means that you can ask the court to change the original ruling if you or your ex got a new job, changed your income, or changed who gets custody of the kids. It is possible.

  10. My Divorce is Finalized. Can I move out of California now?

    For any unfinished business, like child support, support, or property split, the state will still handle it even if you or your ex-spouse decide to leave California after the divorce is final.

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