The divorce process in California is a series of steps and procedures that will carry your case from the initial filing petition through trial. It's very common to have numerous questions about the California divorce process are what you should expect. Why is it important to understand the divorce process in California?
Because you need to have a basic understanding of where you divorce case will go from beginning to end. The purpose of this blog is to provide a basic roadmap when you are considering a divorce in Los Angeles County. However, the information here is not specifically about your divorce case, or what will be the outcome once your divorce is finalized.
Our Los Angeles divorce lawyers will need to first review all the specific details of your divorce case in order to determine your best available options. While California does have a 6 month waiting period for divorces, your case can most likely be finalized before this waiting period.
The California divorce timeline for a basic and simple case can frequently be finished in less than 6 months, but more complicated contested divorce cases could take years to complete. The 6 month waiting period is the earliest point at which the Los Angeles family law court can restore your status as a single person. You can't remarry or even file separate tax returns until the court grants your request to have your single person status restored. Keep in mind; nothing just automatically happens in 6 months. Filling for divorce is a huge step—but only the first one. Before a judge will finalize your divorce, you'll need to jump through some more hoops which will largely depend on how much you and your spouse can agree on. Read on to see the general list of steps for a divorce and how our Los Angeles divorce lawyers can help you.
Step 1. File for Divorce
One spouse starts the divorce process by filing a petition in court. In this petition you will need to include:
- The date you got married
- The names and ages of any children
- Information about your property and debts
- Your legal grounds for seeking divorce
You will also identify whether you want child custody, child support, or alimony (called “spousal support”). Our Los Angeles divorce lawyers can fill out the paperwork properly and file it. You also should have consulted extensively with our attorneys before filing to discuss what you want in terms of child custody, support or alimony.
Step 2. Read the Response
Whoever files for divorce must send copies of their paperwork to their spouse. The other spouse has a chance to respond to the divorce petition by filing a response, which includes most of the same information as the petition. If your spouse doesn't respond, you can have our Los Angeles divorce attorneys seek a defaulted or uncontested divorce.
Step 3. Request Temporary Orders
A divorce in Los Angeles County can take several months from start to finish. In the interim, one spouse might move out of the home, so a judge needs to create temporary child custody, child support, and possible alimony orders. These orders will stay in effect until the divorce is finalized. You will probably need to attend a hearing before the judge on these issues. At this step, our divorce lawyers can help you make a solid case for child custody or child support. Divorcing parents often disagree on these issues, so it is important to have our attorneys represent only your interests.
Step 4. Provide Disclosures
Separating physically is the easy part. A divorce also requires separating your finances from your spouse's. A judge will need detailed financial information about your income, assets, and debts. If you filed for divorce, you could have filled out and submitted this information at the time of filing your petition, or you can wait 60 days. Your disclosures must be accurate, so our Los Angeles divorce attorneys can ensure everything is properly disclosed and in order. If you intentionally misrepresent financial information, the judge can punish you.
Step 5. Discovery
You might not think you have all the information you need from your spouse, in which case you can request discovery. Discovery is the fact-finding phase of a divorce. You can request information from your spouse if you think it will be helpful. For example, you can:
- Send written questions for your spouse to answer under oath. These are interrogatories.
- Have your divorce lawyer ask your spouse questions under oath in-person. This is a deposition.
- Request documents, such as bank records, from your spouse. You can use Requests for Production.
Discovery is helpful at uncovering hidden information and narrowing down the disputes for trial. However, properly requesting information is complicated, and you will benefit from the experience of our Los Angeles divorce lawyers.
Step 6. Settlement or Amicable Resolution
Not every divorce is acrimonious and goes to trial. In fact, it is ideal if spouses can reach an agreement on dividing assets and debts. To help reach an agreement, you might voluntarily agree to seek mediation, which is a form of guided settlement. At mediation, you meet with a third-party neutral who is trained at getting people to listen to each other and find common ground. You can voluntarily reach agreement on all or some of the issues in the divorce. Our divorce attorneys can help you prepare for mediation and even attend with you. If you reach an agreement with your spouse, our lawyers can draft or review a marital settlement agreement before you sign it.
Step 7. Divorce Trial
A judge will need to decide any issues you can't reach an agreement on with your spouse. For example, you might not agree on child custody but agree on how to divide property and debts. In this example, you will have a trial on the child custody issue. At trial, you can introduce supporting documents and question witnesses if they help your case.
If you are fighting about child custody, for example, you will want people to testify who have seen you with your child and can attest to your loving bond. You can also cross-examine your spouse's witnesses to poke holes in their story. High-stakes trials require help from our Los Angeles divorce law firm. You only get one chance to put forward your best case, and our divorce lawyers know how to marshal the evidence necessary to prevail.
Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer
Divorce is emotionally and financially complicated. Few people have the time or energy to track down all pieces of helpful information or learn detailed legal rules to obtain a favorable outcome. At Furman & Zavatsky, our Los Angeles divorce attorneys stand beside our clients and fight for them at each step along the way.
We have extensive experience in California family law and all our resources are focused on helping families through this complicated area of California law. If you are planning going through a divorce process, you need to call our law firm to review your situation.
We represent clients throughout Los Angeles County and the surrounding cities. We will always attempt to cost-effectively resolve disputes in your divorce. However, if necessary, our attorneys are prepared to litigate and take your case to trial. We understand that effective litigation can keep you out of court, but if it becomes apparent a trial is unavoidable, we have the necessary experience and resources to take your case to trial. You first step is to contact our office. Call our divorce law firm at 818-528-3471.