California Divorce Procedures

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Surviving a divorce is not easy. It requires a lot of patience, confidence, and you need to be mentally prepared for the course of the trial and its consequences. Sometimes, the amount of efforts an individual take to understand his/ her case, and the major issues also determine the success of your case. A professional lawyer is always there to help you; but before that you should do some research on your own regarding the state laws, court proceedings, fees and costs, etc. This is true for any individual fighting a case anywhere. Similarly, if you are fighting a divorce case in California, you must gather an idea of California divorce procedures and divorce laws beforehand.

Although California divorce procedures vary from one case to another, we bring to your focus some common, noteworthy procedures that you will have to go through once the proceedings start.

California Divorce Procedure in sequence

  • The divorce procedure begins when any of the divorcing partner files a Petition. This person is called as the Petitioner, whereas the other divorcing partner is referred to as the Respondent. The divorce petition is served to the Respondent.

  • From the date of service of the divorce petition, the Respondent is allotted 30 days for filing a Response

  • If the Response is submitted in the court, this means that the Respondent is desirous of taking active part in the divorce proceedings

  • If a Response is not forwarded to the court, the court continues the case in the absence of the Respondent. In this case, it is the responsibility of the Petitioner to draft a judgment and forward it to the court. Moreover, the Petitioner requests orders regarding distribution of property, attorney fees, spousal support, child support, visitation, and child custody. From the date when the Respondent was served, there is a waiting period of six months and on completion of it the divorce is finalized.

  • In case the Respondent files a Response, the next step is Discovery. Discovery can be in the form of written questions or in person (deposition). Here, the divorcing partners offer each other documents and pertinent data regarding their incomes and property.

  • A situation may arise when one, or both divorcing partners, might feel the necessity of temporary orders prior to trial. If this is the case, then the divorcing partner needs to file an Order to Show Cause. Generally, the request is concerning domestic violence, restraining order, attorney fees, spousal support, child support, child visitation, and child custody.

  • Regarding the previous point, the partner has to remain present in court and throw light on his or her condition. Depending on the proof displayed in court, the court issues essential orders.

  • Once the discovery phase is over, the next step is of trial. Generally, the court plans a Mandatory Settlement Conference prior to trial. The intention of doing so is that the divorcing partners should be accompanied by their lawyers for this Conference, and all these individuals must try and settle as many topics as possible prior to the trial.

  • If the divorcing partners are successful in solving all the issues, then a Marital Settlement Agreement is prepared and a judgment is drafted. In this case also, there is a waiting period of six months and one day following the date of service of the petition, before the divorce is finalized.

  • When the divorcing partners cannot solve their issues in the Conference, then the trial begins

  • The trial is marked by arguments and presenting evidence. After listening to the arguments and viewing the evidences, the Judge issues orders regarding all issues in conflict. Depending on these orders, the judgment is prepared

  • After the judgment is drafted, the divorce lawyers approve it and then forward it to the court

  • Two conditions must be satisfied for the divorce to become final:
    • The Judge must sign the judgment
    • The six month waiting period must pass by

This forms the last step of the California divorce procedure, following which the partners get separated from each other legally. In addition to all the above-mentioned points, it is to be remembered that in California when the judgment is passed, the orders regarding attorney fees and distribution of property can never be altered. However, some other orders like spousal support, visitation, child custody, and child support can be changed. Although this is not a divorce procedure, yet it is important because this is related to your divorce.

You should read the California divorce procedures and note down the major points that highlight your case. Ensure that you are mentally ready for the trial sessions, so they won't prove embarrassing for you.

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