As with most legal processes, divorce involves several steps, and it can be confusing to know what you need to do and in what order. You’ve taken the first step and filed divorce papers with the California family court. What happens now? The following is a brief outline of the process you will need to follow to get divorced in California.
Serve your divorce papers
Once you have filed divorce papers, you must ensure that your spouse is formally notified, which is known as “serving” divorce papers. Although it’s possible to serve papers by having them mailed to your spouse & your spouse acknowledging receipt formally (note that you cannot mail them yourself), this method can be unreliable. Most people choose to have a server (an adult who is not related to your case) deliver the papers to their spouse in person.
Your spouse must respond within 30 days. If your spouse chooses not to respond by the deadline, which is known as a default, you can move forward with the divorce without your spouse’s input.
Prepare your financial disclosures
You are legally required to share information about your finances (including all debts and assets as well as your salary and income) with your spouse in order to be granted a divorce. Although you do not file financial documents with the court, you do file a form acknowledging that you and your spouse have completed this step.
Come to an agreement
At this point, you and your spouse must make several decisions regarding a host of important issues: child custody and support, visitation rights and schedules, dividing the marital estate, spousal support, what happens to your home, who gets the pets, paying attorney fees, etc. There are a few different ways to arrive at an agreement during this process:
- If your relationship is amicable, you can work together with your spouse in person, over the phone, over email, etc. Some couples find it helpful to work with a mediator.
- If your spouse is in default and never responded to the initial divorce papers, you are free to make all the decisions on your own and notify the court in writing. The judge will still need to approve or deny your requests.
- If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement about some or all of your issues, you can ask the court for help. There will be a trial, and a judge will decide for you.
You don’t have to do it alone. Consult with family law experts.
The California court system has published a self-help guide to give you a better idea of what to expect throughout the divorce process in California. However, working with professionals who have experience with the judicial system, like the family law attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri (LPEP Law) can make the entire process less stressful, especially if your divorce is complicated or contentious.
Our attorneys have been helping clients navigate the life-changing and difficult issues related to divorce for decades. We will walk with you every step of the way. Contact us today at 408-553-0801 for a free, 30-minute consultation to discuss your situation. We’re ready to help.
Disclaimer: this article does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.