California Divorce Process
Divorce is an emotional and challenging time for the thousands of Californians who face it every year. With a basic understanding of the procedure for divorce, you can be better prepared to manage this difficult task. Read on to learn more about the process of divorce, and contact the Los Angeles divorce attorneys at Furman & Zavatsky with any questions you may have.
What Happens in Divorce?
(1) You or your spouse will file a petition for the dissolution of your marriage at your local court. Because California is a no-fault divorce state (in fact, it was the first state to recognize no-fault divorce in 1970), it does not matter which spouse files the petition for divorce. There is no strategic advantage to winning a race to the courthouse. See related: What if My Spouse Won’t Grant Me a Divorce?
(2) The filing spouse must serve the other spouse with the petition for divorce and ancillary documents. This can be accomplished by a process server. Alternatively, the non-filing spouse (or their attorney) can accept the documents and sign a waiver of the right to have a process server deliver them.
(3) The non-filing spouse can choose to not respond to the petition, and let the court issue a default divorce decree. This means the court will make decisions about property division, child custody and visitation, and all other divorce issues. These decisions will be largely based upon the requests made in the petition for dissolution.
(4) The non-filing spouse can also choose to file a response to the petition for dissolution. This must be done within thirty days of being served with (or waiving service of) the divorce petition.
(5) Once a response is filed, the court will schedule hearings to attempt to resolve the disputed issues in divorce. At any point in this process, the spouses can reach written agreements. The court will then issue a divorce decree in which these agreements become legally-binding orders of the court. If some issues are resolved, but others are not, the court will order the agreements and schedule a trial date to resolve the remaining issues.
(6) If the spouses are unable to reach agreements on any issues, the court will schedule a trial date. Each spouse will have an opportunity to testify and present evidence to support his or her position. After the trial, the court will decide the disputed issues, and issue a divorce decree with the judge’s rulings.
As you can see, the goal of the divorce process is to end with a legally binding divorce decree issued by the court, and there are many different ways to reach this outcome. It is important to find the way that is best for you and your family. See our related blog: List of Steps Before a California Divorce is Finalized.
Importance of Retaining a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer
If you are going through a divorce or believe that one may be in your near future, you should talk to an experienced Los Angeles divorce attorney as soon as possible, as the assistance of an attorney can have a significant impact on the way that your divorce is resolved. It is important to understand that a divorce lawyer can be of assistance even if your case does not go to trial. In fact, being represented by a lawyer can make it easier to settle your case, as many divorcing couples are unable to communicate with one another in a constructive way. In addition, because judges have significant discretion when making decisions on issues such as alimony, child custody, and child support, it is critical that your case is presented in the strongest light possible. See related: Divorce and Immigration Status.
Your Los Angeles divorce attorney will also advise you about things that you should or should not do while your case is pending, as your actions during a divorce can have an impact on the way that a court views your financial and personal situation. As a result, inappropriate Facebook or Twitter posts or comments made to others could have a negative impact on the way that your case is resolved. Fortunately, when you retain a skilled divorce lawyer at our law firm, we will advise you about how to conduct your affairs so that your rights are fully protected. See our blog: What If My Spouse Is Recklessly Spending During our Divorce Process?
Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney to Review Your Case
Whether you are considering divorce, have filed for divorce, or your spouse has filed for divorce, it is important to protect your legal interests during this challenging time. Call (818) 528-3471 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with the experienced Los Angeles attorneys at Furman & Zavatsky. We offer the personalized service that will help you navigate the divorce process successfully.