How to File for Divorce
Divorce is an extremely painful situation coupled with the filing requirements and court appearances can send anyone into a tailspin emotionally and financially. So what are the steps to filing for divorce in California?
First, one needs to obtain the required forms from the court that consist of the summons, petition, venue declaration, if there are children, a declaration under the uniform child custody and jurisdictional act, a preliminary declaration of disclosures, an income and expenses declaration and a schedule of assets and debts. Hiring an attorney will save the time and energy of going to court and getting the documents as well as save time and energy in filling out the paperwork. Also, a competent family law attorney knows the correct language to include in a petition and related documents so to protect a person’s rights in the event a matter proceeds by default when the other party fails to respond after being served.
Second, the forms need to be completed and filed with the family law court and a first time filing fee is paid unless the party qualifies for a fee waiver. The preliminary declaration of disclosure and schedule of assets and debts are not filed with the court but should be completed and provided with the documents as stated below.
Third, a copy of the filed divorce petition and related documents are personally delivered to the other party by a third party over the age of 18. Once the delivery (service) is completed, the petitioner files proof that the other side was served with the court and the clock starts running for the respondent to respond to the petition which is 30 days from the date the petition was personally delivered.
Fourth, assuming the respondent files their response within the 30 days, the parties then exchange all financial information required by the family code and various forms will be provided to each side within 60 days unless the financial documents have already been exchanged. An attorney can assist with the proper completion of the financial disclosures also known as the preliminary declaration of disclosure. If the Respondent does not respond to the divorce within 30 days, the Petitioner can file a default against the Respondent and then proceed to a judgment without the Respondent participating assuming the Petitioner’s financial disclosures have been provided to the Respondent via mail, email or personal delivery.
Finally, the parties can try to reach an agreement and if they can, the court will reduce the parties’ agreement to writing and it will become a judgment for divorce. The hearing is usually set 90-120 days from the date of filing to give the parties plenty of time to exchange documents and discuss settlement. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the court will set a hearing to address and decide all issues relating to the case.
In closing, there are only a few instances where a party should represent themselves in a family law matter so before filing for divorce, contact Fair Cadora to learn more.