A divorce can be an emotionally and financially challenging situation. Navigating the legal complexities of a divorce can be confusing, and managing the emotions involved can lead to difficult decisions. The good news is that there are ways to reduce the stress and get through the process quickly—with a little bit of knowledge, planning, and understanding.
This article will provide tips to demystify the divorce process and help you move through it smoothly and quickly. Let’s start by discussing the legal documents you will need to complete.
What is Divorce?
Let’s look more closely at the documents and procedures involved in a divorce.
Divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage. In California, a couple may choose to enter into either a summary dissolution or traditional dissolution.
A summary dissolution is very streamlined and allows couples who have been married for less than five years and meet certain other criteria to terminate their marital status without appearing in court. Traditional dissolution requires a more involved process and involves filing the necessary paperwork with the court.
Explaining the Process & Reasons for Divorce in California
Now that we’ve established the basics of what a divorce is let’s focus on the process and reasons for divorcing in California.
In California, you may file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences or “fault” grounds. Irreconcilable differences mean that the marriage is no longer working, and there’s been a breakdown in communication between the two parties. Fault grounds are when one party is found by the court to have caused the breakdown in the marriage, such as adultery or abuse.
If you are filing for an irreconcilable difference divorce, both parties must agree that the marriage has broken down and they wish to end it. If you cannot agree on this point, then your only option is to file a fault-based divorce.
The reasons for filing a fault-based divorce can include the following:
• Cruelty or abuse
• Substance abuse
• A spouse’s refusal to provide support
• Abandonment by one of the parties.
Regardless of which type of divorce you are pursuing, it is important to understand that California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the fault of either party will not be considered by the court when deciding issues such as child custody or support.
Once you’ve established which type of divorce you are pursuing and the reasons for doing so, you can start preparing for the process ahead.
Preparing for Divorce
Now that you understand the process and reasons for divorcing in California, it’s time to start preparing. There are several financial, practical, and legal considerations to remember as you begin this journey.
Financial considerations & preparation
The first step is to assess the financial situation of you and your spouse. This means understanding the income, debts, assets, and liabilities of each party to know what is available for division during the divorce.
You should also consider setting up a separate bank account to reduce confusion or overlap during the process. Additionally, create a budget that includes all your necessary expenses and any potential one-time costs associated with the divorce.
Talking to your lawyer about options & goals
It is important to seek legal advice when considering a divorce. Talking to a lawyer can help you better understand your rights, options, and the process ahead. Plus, they can advise you on what goals may be realistic, given the specifics of your situation.
Gathering essential documents for proceedings
To move through the process quickly and efficiently, it is important to gather all relevant documents together before filing anything with the court. This includes bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, insurance policies, deeds, etc. Your lawyer can help ensure you have all the appropriate documents ready.
Other practical tips to prepare for the process ahead
Divorce is a challenging process, so it is important to take care of yourself emotionally and physically during this time. Consider seeking counseling or therapy and spending time with friends and family who can provide emotional support. Additionally, be sure to take time for yourself to relax, recharge and focus on your goals.
The Divorce Process in California
Now that you’ve prepared for the process let’s look at what happens after filing a petition or response with the court. In California, there are a few steps that need to occur before any agreements can be finalized.
Filing a petition or response & serving documents
The first step is to file a petition or response with the court and serve documents on your spouse. The petition includes information about you, your spouse, children, assets, finances, and other details relevant to the divorce. Once filed, it must be served on your spouse in person or by mail.
The discovery process & negotiations with the other party
Once the documents have been served, the next step is for each party to engage in the discovery process. This means both parties will exchange information regarding their finances and assets through written questions, depositions, and document requests.
The goal of this process is to ensure that both parties have a full understanding of the financial situation before negotiations begin. In California, all couples are required to engage in mandatory mediation with a trained mediator before they can proceed to trial. The purpose of the mediation is to help the couple reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce.
Finalizing agreements, mediation, and court hearings
If an agreement can’t be reached during mediation, then either party may choose to proceed to court. The judge will consider evidence from both parties and rule on the division of assets, child custody and support, spousal support, and other relevant issues.
Once all the divorce terms are finalized, an agreement must be submitted to the court for approval. Once approved, it becomes a legally binding document that both parties must abide by.
Obtaining a judgment to complete the divorce
Once all agreements have been made, a judgment must be obtained to complete the divorce. This is usually done by submitting a form requesting that the court enter a judgment and dissolve the marriage. After this is submitted, it can take up to 30 days for the court to grant the judgment officially.
Dealing with appeals and enforcement actions
If either party is dissatisfied with the outcome, they can appeal the decision or file an enforcement action. If an enforcement action is filed, it means that one of the parties is not abiding by the terms of the agreement or court order. This could include not paying child support, not transferring assets, or not following the custody agreement.
Both appeals and enforcement actions can be complicated processes and often require the help of a lawyer to navigate them successfully.
Ultimately, the best way to go through a divorce is with a plan. Take the time to think about how you will approach each step of the process, from finding a lawyer who understands your situation and has your best interests at heart to using mediation or collaborative law if appropriate and establishing clear expectations for yourself and those around you.
Taking the time to think through your situation and ensure a clear plan will help make the process smoother and quicker. Good luck on your journey.
Farbood Majd Esq.
Family Law & Divorce Attorney in Beverly Hills
Providing service in English and Farsi
Address: 8383 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 646, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Phone: 310.956.4600 | Fax: 310.878.8989
Email: [email protected]