The Divorce Litigation Process in California
The divorce process in California can be complex and intimidating for the uninitiated, which, ideally, includes most married individuals. While you may have a pretty good idea of what a divorce proceeding looks like from TV or legal dramas, in reality, most of the action occurs outside the courtroom and is far less dramatic. While everyone’s circumstances are different, there are certain procedures all divorce litigants must follow in California. And if you are planning on getting a divorce, it will be in your best interests to understand the process first. Below is a summary of the divorce litigation process in California as explained by our Irvine divorce litigation attorneys.
1. Filing for Divorce
The divorce process begins when one spouse files a petition for a dissolution of marriage with the court, which may be filed by either spouse. The petition requires the statement of certain facts, such as the date of the marriage, the existence of any minor children, and a request that the court make certain orders as to child support, child custody, and spousal support.
2. Service and Response
Once the petition is filed, the petitioner must provide the other spouse with a copy of the petition (known as “serving” the other spouse). After service, the other spouse has 30 days to respond to the petition. In that response, the respondent may agree or disagree with the facts alleged in the petition, and includes the same factual information as the petition. While a respondent cannot stop the divorce in his or her response, it allows the respondent to tell their side of the story.
3. Temporary Orders in California
At any point during the proceedings, either party may petition the court to issue temporary orders regarding how certain matters will be handled during the divorce, such as child custody, child support, visitation, and attorneys’ fees. These types of orders can be by the agreement of both the parties or by the divorce court’s order.
4. Financial Disclosures
California law requires that community property — property obtained by either spouse during the marriage — be distributed equally among the spouses upon divorce. As such, each party in a divorce must disclose the full picture of their financial situations (including evidence) to the other party. This can include paychecks, credit card statements, mortgages, and tax returns, among others.
5. California’s Discovery Process
Discovery is a mechanism that allows each party to request certain information from the other party, and includes requests for production of documents, interrogatories (written questions), requests for admissions (requests that your spouse admit or deny certain facts), and depositions.
6. An Irvine Divorce Litigation Lawyer Will Represent You in Court
If the case makes it to trial without settling (which can occur at any point prior to or during trial) or completing mediation, the court will set a trial date to finalize any outstanding issues. During this phase, each party’s attorney will make statements, examine and cross-examine witnesses, and introduce evidence. The judge will then make a ruling on the case.
Contact an Irvine Divorce Litigation Attorney Today
For more detailed information about the divorce litigation process in California, please contact the Irvine divorce law firm of Seastrom Tuttle & Murphy by using our online form or calling us at 949-474-0800.