Dissolution Of Marriage
California was the first state to implement the "no-fault divorce" concept. This means neither spouse has to accuse the other of marital misconduct; if the marriage has broken down due to irreconcilable differences, the couple can get a divorce. This simply means that a married person who wants to end the marriage can do so, even if the other spouse wants to stay together.
To get a divorce in California, at least one of the spouses has to have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing the divorce petition. You must also live in the county where you file the divorce petition for at least three months before filing.
Once you file the divorce petition and serve it on your spouse, you will have to wait at least six months for your divorce to be finalized.
A typical dissolution of marriage requires the following steps:
- 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. This is a court form in which each spouse lists the community and separate property. As part of this disclosure, the parties are also required to exchange income and expense declarations.
- After the discovery is complete, the spouses and their attorneys (if they are represented) 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. This is a contract that is signed by the spouses and their attorneys.
- 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.