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Divorce

 

A divorce (also called "dissolution of marriage" or "dissolution of domestic partnership") ends your marriage or domestic partnership. After you get divorced, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again. 

If you get divorced, you can ask the judge for orders like child support, spousal support, partner support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, division of property, and other orders. 

For married persons to get a divorce, you MUST meet California's residency requirement.  

You must file a regular divorce if you can answer yes to any one of the following: 

Have you and your spouse been married for more than 5 years? 

Do you and your spouse have any minor children born of your relationship 
  before or during the marriage or adopted by you during the marriage? 

Is the wife currently pregnant? 

Does either spouse have an interest in any real property anywhere (excluding a
  lease for a residence which must terminate within a year from the date of filing
  the divorce and must not include an option to purchase)? 

Do you have more than $5,000 in obligations incurred by either or both of you
  during the marriage except for car loans? 

Do you have more than $33,000 in total fair market value of community property
  assets, not including what you owe on those assets and not including
  automobiles? 

Does either spouse have in excess of $33,000 in separate property assets, not
  including what you owe on those assets and not including automobiles? 

In order to initiate a divorce case, you must prepare and file a Summons and Petition together with any other applicable forms.  Upon filing, the Court issues your Summons and assigns you a case number.  Your spouse must be personally served with your Summons and other documents.  You can have anyone over the age of 18 serve your spouse at no cost or you may choose to have our office have your spouse served by our registered process servers at an additional fee.  Your six month waiting period to be returned to unmarried, single status will begin when your spouse has been served.

 Once your spouse is served with your Summons and other documents, he or she will have 30 days to file the appropriate documents in Court to contest your matter or they can opt to do nothing.

If your spouse does not file the necessary documents with the Court to contest, your divorce may proceed by default.  You must prepare and file the default package with the Court.  After the Court processes your default package, you must then prepare and file the judgment package to finalize your divorce.  If your divorce includes the issues of child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, or division of assets and obligations, the Court may request that you attend a Default Trial in order for the Judge to make a ruling on these issues.  This process usually takes a minimum of six to eight months to complete. 

If your spouse does file the necessary documents with the Court to contest, you must then complete your divorce by either agreement or trial.

If you and your spouse can agree to all the issues involved in your divorce, i.e. child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, division of community assets and/or obligations, confirmation of separate property, etc., your divorce can be completed by agreement.  You and your spouse must complete all of the necessary documents, including the agreement, in order to have the Court finalize your divorce.

 If you and your spouse cannot agree to all of the issues involved in your divorce, then a trial date must be requested so that you can go before a Judge in order to obtain your final divorce judgment.  You must prepare all of the mandated trial documents and submit them in a timely manner in order for your trial to proceed.  If it becomes necessary for you to go to trial, it is always recommended that you have an attorney appear with you so that you have appropriate representation as this hearing will result in the Judge rendering a decision on all issues and finalizing your divorce.

 In California, starting on January 1, 2005, domestic partners must also file for dissolution, legal separation, or annulment to end their relationship.  The information above also applies to the dissolution of a domestic partnership.
 


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Last modified: 05/10/07.
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