Since California is a no-fault divorce state, unless you need the family court judge to resolve issues you were unable to reach an agreement with your spouse, you won't need to appear in court. In other words, it's not legally required you appear in a family law court for your divorce. So, you don't have to go to court in person to get a divorce in California, but it's not always that simple and it will depend on a wide range of factors.
In order to avoid having to appear in court, you have options on how to handle your divorce. For example, you and your spouse can reach a mutual verbal agreement on all divorce-related issues. Next, you can complete all the required paperwork and submit them to the court.
This all sounds rather quick and easy, but it's rarely works in this manner and there are disputes that need to be resolved.
In many divorces, there are frequently disagreements about spousal support (alimony), child support, child custody, property and asset division, and other issues related to a dissolution of marriage.
Divorce Mediation in California
If you can reach an agreement with your spouse on a major issue, such as division of property, you should consider divorce mediation. While the process of mediation might involve some participation from lawyers outside the family law courtroom, they are not acting as the primary negotiator.
Mediation always involves a neutral third-party and you are not required to follow their suggestions, which is unlike an order from a family court judge. Keep in mind that if you don't choose to mediate and reach an agreement, then you will have to litigate your divorce in court, where you will have to appear in person.
If you decide to litigate in court to resolve important issues, then you can retain a family law attorney to act on your behalf, and will probably have to make minimal appearances in court.
There are situations where both divorcing spouses will only appear in court at the final judgment hearing because their divorce attorneys have made all previous appearances on their behalf.
How exactly you handle your divorce is an issue you control completely. Some don't want to deal with the stress of making court appearances, while others want to be deeply involved at every stage of the divorce proceedings.
At Furman & Zavatsky, our experienced Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys can help you make crucial decisions to guide you through the divorce process.
To provide you with more useful information, we are providing a detailed review below on whether you have to appear in court for your divorce in California.
What Are the Circumstances of Your Divorce?
Whether or not you will have to appear in divorce court will always depend on your situation. There are ways to resolve your divorce out of court, but many spouse have different opinions on major issues.
If you and your spouse are able to reach a mutual agreement and have it written out on who will have primary child custody and support, visitation, spousal support, dividing property, assets and debts, the judge will usually approve it.
In this scenario, your divorce could be granted without either spouse being present in a family law court. As discussed above, however, any disagreements on these issues will almost always result in having to appear in court.
Our divorce and family law attorneys will inform you of available options and can also negotiate with your spouse's lawyer. An experienced divorce lawyer can tell you what your options are and negotiate with your partner's attorney.
Also, if your divorce requires making court appearances, we can appear before the judge on your behalf. Again the use of divorce mediation may be your best option and it will limit the cost of your divorce.
No Fault Divorce in California
As stated above, California is a no-fault divorce state and either spouse can get a divorce even in a situation whether the other spouse doesn't agree.
Also, both spouses can just make an agreement they need to split up without having to appear in a family court and provide an explanation on why the marriage didn't work out.
It should be noted that even when neither spouse is opposed to the divorce, it must still go through the legal divorce process. One spouse (petitioner) has to officially file for a divorce petition at the local family law courthouse and then serve the other spouse (respondent) with the paperwork, commonly called “divorce papers.”
Divorce Residency Requirements in California
The divorce petition will ask you where you were married. You must first meet the California residency requirements which prevent a spouse from another state travelling to California to get a fast divorce.
The requirements are that one spouse must have lived in the state of California for at least 6 months and at least 3 months in the county where they are filing the divorce petition.
Once the other spouse is served, they can respond if they wish, but are required to appear in a courthouse. After the “respondent” receives the divorce petition, there is a six month waiting period to make the divorce final.
Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law Lawyers
In many California divorces, the spouses are in agreement that a divorce must occur, but often can't reach an agreement on crucial details on the children and financial issues.
While California is a no-fault state, it's not uncommon for a divorce to get complicated quickly when there are issues of multiple children, high-assets, and a significant amount of property to be divided.
As stated above, whether or not you will have to appear in a family law court will depend on the circumstances of your divorce and whether you are able to reach an agreement with your spouse.
Our attorneys will review your situation and provide advice on legal options moving forward. We can help you navigate through the divorce process without having to personally make a court appearance.
Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys located at 15821 Ventura Blvd #690 Encino, CA 91436. We offer a free case evaluation by calling (818) 528-3471.