The state of California has a clear, uncomplicated guideline when it comes to divorce cases, especially if and when both parties appear to agree on the decision to file the petition. If the separation is planned well, it most likely won’t take more than six months to finalize the case. But if one party will not cooperate accordingly and more complex matters arise, it may just take longer than expected.
Here in Woodland Hills, CA, you can find specialized divorce attorneys experienced in handling cases under family law.
What Is The Process of Getting a Divorce in California?
Consider that each state has its unique divorce laws. The time it will take for a divorce case in California will depend on how many issues need to be worked out before the court finally makes a decision. Usually, the first step is for both parties to sit down with a divorce attorney specializing in family law. A hearing will then be scheduled, and the attorneys will go over the issues that need to be addressed.
Requirements & Paperwork
The following is a list of things that should get covered firsthand, to ensure a continuous flow of case proceedings:
- Residency Requirements
California has residential requirements for couples who want to file a divorce case in the state court.
If one party is planning to file, the residential eligibility of both spouses should be verified. Either spouse must be a registered resident in California for at least six months and a resident of the county (where they’re planning to file) for at least three months prior to the filing of the divorce case.
- Filing of Paperwork
A few necessary paperwork must be submitted to the court on your jurisdiction. Family lawyers are quite familiar with the forms that the court requires, but it never hurts to come prepared with knowledge about the divorce papers.
The initial divorce papers that need to be submitted are Form FL-100 for the “Petition for Dissolution” and Form FL-110 for the “Summons.” If there are children involved, additional paperwork must be provided.
Consult with our family law attorneys with experienced service specializing in child custody cases.
The spouse who filed the papers must serve the other spouse formally. Either do it yourself or assigned another person of legal age to serve it on your behalf. If you choose to appoint another person, another form must be submitted to the court. The Form FL-115 is the Proof of Service of Summons, which the appointee should file personally.
In summary, if the couple meets the residency requirements, one spouse can submit the divorce papers under the advisement of the family lawyer.
Response to The Petition
As mentioned above, the divorce petition filed by one spouse shall be served to the other spouse, referred to as the “respondent.” The respondent has exactly thirty (30) days to respond to the petition. If he or she is unable to do so, the court can automatically issue a default judgment.
In the “Discovery,” the spouses shall exchange relevant information and documents pertaining to the divorce case proceedings. Each spouse is required by the court to prepare the “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure” form. Here is where their separate and community properties will be listed, as well as income and expense declarations.
Once the discovery is accomplished, the spouses, along with their individual attorneys, should discuss the case settlement. A formal Marital Settlement Agreement will be filed by the attorneys, laying down each item of the spouses’ final agreement on the divorce arrangement. This agreement may include the division of assets, child custody arrangement, and other terms. When both spouses come to an agreement, one of the attorneys can prepare a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage that states the settlement’s resolutions agreed on by both parties, including the court’s final orders.
In the case where both spouses are not able to settle with an agreement, a trial shall take place.