This is an overview of divorce in California, which is a no-fault divorce state. A dissolution of marriage can be granted under the cause of “irreconcilable differences”. This essentially means that a married person who would like to end the marriage can do so, even if the other spouse would like to stay together.
All divorce in California follows a similar process, which is:
- One spouse files a divorce petition and serves it on the other spouse (called the respondent).
- The respondent then has thirty days to file a response to the petition.
- One of the spouses may request temporary court orders by filing for an Order to Show Cause hearing. At this hearing, the judge will make temporary child custody, support, and restraining orders.
- The spouses then engage in discovery, which is the process by which they exchange information and documents that are relevant to the divorce. One of the required aspects of discovery is the preparation of the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure.
- After the discovery is complete, the spouses and their attorneys will discuss settlement of the case. If the case is resolved by agreement, one of the attorneys will prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement, which should include all of the terms of the agreement.
- If the parties are not able to agree on all of the issues in the case, a trial will take place.
- After the parties sign the Marital Settlement Agreement or after the trial has concluded, one of the attorneys will prepare a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This is the document that contains all of the court’s orders. The judgment is filed and the court mails a Notice of Entry of Judgment to each attorney.
The exception, is that under some circumstances you may qualify for a summary dissolution.
To qualify for a summary dissolution, you must have been married for less than five years, have no children, don’t own real estate, and have relatively limited property and debts. There is still some paperwork that needs to be filed and you still have to wait six months before your divorce becomes final, however, you don’t have to go through a lot of the procedures and appearances required for a regular divorce.
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