Thursday, May 24, 2007

Divorce Help: How To Get A Divorce in California

How to Get a Divorce in California: As explained by the lawyers at Famularo & Associates, Divorce and Family Law Attorneys serving the Temecula, Murrieta, and Hemet areas of Riverside County, California.

The following chronology will give you a general idea of how the average divorce proceeds. Your divorce may be a little different because of specific issues between you and your spouse.

  • To begin a divorce in the state of California, one spouse must file a Petition in his/her local courthouse. The local courthouse in the Temecula and Murrieta area is in Hemet, California. The person who files the Petition for divorce is called the "Petitioner".

  • The Petition for divorce is then personally served upon the other spouse. The person who is served with the Petition is called the "Respondent".

  • After the Respondent is served with the divorce petition, he or she has 30 days to file a document with the court called a Response. This document tells the court that the Respondent wishes to participate in the divorce proceedings and wants to be notified of any upcoming court dates.

  • If the Respondent fails to file a Response to the divorce within 30 days, the case proceeds without the Respondent’s participation. This is called proceeding by "default."

  • If the divorce case proceeds by default, the Petitioner prepares a divorce judgment and submits it to the court. The Petitioner will usually be able to get whatever orders he or she requests, including any desired orders concerning custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, attorney fees, and division of property. Once the judge signs the judgment, the case is concluded. However, the divorce will not be granted until the six month waiting period has expired.

  • If the Respondent files a Response to the divorce, the parties exchange documents and other information about their property and incomes. This is called "Discovery." By examining this information before the trial, the parties can discuss how to resolve their case.

  • Sometimes one or both of the parties will need the court to make orders before the trial date. Either spouse may file an Order to Show Cause at any time before the trial, asking the court to make temporary orders regarding child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support, attorney fees, or other matters. The judge will make orders on these limited issues after conducting a hearing. These orders are temporary orders, because they are only good until the day of the divorce trial.

  • Sometimes the couple can voluntarily resolve all their issues through settlement. If a settlement is reached, the parties prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement, which later becomes the divorce judgment and the case is concluded– sometimes without ever having to attend court. However, the divorce will not be granted until the six month waiting period has elapsed.

  • If the parties are not able to reach an agreement, the case will go to trial. Even if the parties must go to trial, they will often be able to resolve some or most of the issues before the divorce trial. The parties prepare and sign a Partial Judgment, which outlines all the issues they have agreed on. This becomes part of the final divorce judgment after the court decides the rest of the case.

  • At trial, each attorney presents evidence and arguments. The judge decides all the unresolved issues, including child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support, attorney fees and property division. The judgment is prepared and approved by the attorneys and then submitted to the court.

  • Once the judge signs the divorce judgment and the six month waiting period has elapsed, the divorce becomes final.

  • Even after the judgment is entered if the parties’ circumstances change, either party can later return to court and ask the judge to change certain orders in the judgment. This is called an OSC or an Order to Show Cause. However, the court’s power to modify the terms of a judgment is normally restricted to orders concerning child custody, child visitation, child support, and spousal support. The court usually does not have the power to change orders previously made concerning division of property.

For more help about this or any other family law or divorce issue, visit Famularo & Associates on-line at: http://www.temeculadivorce.com or http://www.familylaw-riversidecounty.com or http://www.familylawyerintemecula.com

If you reside in the Temecula Valley, or have a case in Riverside County, California, feel free to call our office for a free consultation with one of our family law lawyers at (951) 816-9543. We serve the Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet and Riverside areas of Riverside, California.

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