California has the reputation of being a relatively easy state in which to divorce. Compared to some states which have very long waiting periods or other strict requirements, this may be true. However, it is not “easy” to get a divorce in California unless you know the requirements and follow them so that a judge will grant your petition.
A divorce begins with a petition. The Petitioner, or person who files the petition, must serve a copy upon the Respondent. The Respondent then has 30 days to answer. At that point, the Respondent’s actions will determine the future course of the divorce. If the Respondent fails to answer, the divorce can be granted as early as six months and one day from the date of filing. If the Respondent files an answer, there may be issues to be resolved before the parties can petition the court for an order of divorce.
Common Divorce Issues
The discovery period begins when the Respondent files an answer to the divorce petition. Discovery involves “discovering” the facts about the case: what assets are available, what debts are owed and other information that will affect the final judgment.
During discovery, either party can petition for an Order to Show Cause. This is usually done to determine temporary issues such as child custody and visitation, child support and spousal support amounts, temporary attorney fees or to obtain a restraining order. These issues will be heard separately from the main case, and the judge may make a ruling that will last until the final decree.
Proceeding to Trial
Only a small fraction of California divorce cases ever go to trial. Instead, most cases are decided by common agreement. The parties negotiate and come up with a settlement that they then submit to the judge for approval. The settlement agreement must address all of the major issues involved in the divorce such as distribution of assets and debts as well as child support and custody.
If the parties simply cannot reach an agreement, they may try alternative methods such as mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party hears the arguments and suggests solutions. If no agreement can be reached, the case goes to trial.
If you are facing a divorce in California, it is very important to have strong legal representation. The attorneys at Men’s Legal Center can help. Give us a call to discuss your case.