The Family Law Guru
Residency requirements state that in order to qualify for dissolution of marriage or a divorce, one of you must have been a resident of California for six continuous months and a resident of the county in which you are filing for three continuous months prior to the filing of the Family Law Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage. The Petitioner is the spouse requesting the divorce or dissolution. The Respondent is the spouse being served with the Summons and Petition. A minimum period of six months must transpire for the divorce to be granted and the marriage to be terminated, once the Respondent is served with the Summons and Petition.
California is a community property state. All property that was acquired during the marriage, including your home, income, and personal property is considered community property and will be divided equally by the court. The court will also equally divide any debts incurred during the marriage. Any property that was acquired before the marriage, after the date of separation, or by bequest or inheritance is usually the separate property of the spouse who acquired it.
A typical dissolution of marriage or divorce requires various procedural steps. First, the party seeking the divorce will file a summons and petition. This is a very important step. Once your summons and petition is filed the Court will assign a case number. After the conformed copy of the summons and petition is returned our office our staff will facilitate personal service on opposing party. A summons and petition must be personally served by someone who is not a party to the action over the age of 18. Of course there are a couple of exceptions, such as, if the person agrees to accept service by mail and signs a notice of acknowledgment of receipt. If you cannot locate the person you may post in a newspaper, which is known as service by publication. If the process server has attempted several times (usually 3 or more) the process server will prepare as declaration of due diligence regarding their service attempts.
The Respondent has thirty (30) days to file a Response to Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage. If the party fails to respond a default is filed on your behalf. After a default is filed we will prepare a default judgment.
Generally, several clients file request for orders concurrently with the summons and petition. A request for order is a motion which requests for courts to make temporary orders regarding, child custody, child and or spousal support, attorney’s fees, or property orders, if appropriate. It generally takes approximately six (6) to (8) eight weeks to get into court. Therefore, if you need orders right away you should make this a priority.
Next, the discovery process may begin. Discovery is a formal request for information from your spouse. Once propounded, your spouse will need to provide requested information, including but not limited to, financial information and documents that are relevant to the case. There are different types of discovery that can be propounded, such as, interrogatories, special interrogatories, demands for inspection of records, requests for admissions and depositions (oral examination under penalty of perjury).
If your partner fails to provide the requested information we will send out a meet and confer letter. If they still do not provide the requested information, we will file a motion to compel on your behalf. There can be serious monetary sanctions imposed for failing to comply with the discovery process. Both spouses have a fiduciary obligation to the other to provide financial information to the other upon demand. Discovery is an on-going process until the dissolution case is almost ready for trial. Discovery cuts off 30 days prior to trial.
The Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure is mandatory for both sides. This is a court form in which each of you lists the community and separate property, provide estimates of value for each asset and debt, exchange current income and expense declarations setting forth employment earnings and personal expense information.
If the parties are in agreement, then a settlement has been reached.
Once discovery is largely complete, settlement of the case can be discussed. If the case is resolved by agreement, one of the attorneys will prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement, which will contain all of the terms of the agreement or a Judgment. This is an agreement that is signed by the parties and their lawyers. If the parties cannot come to an agreement on the issues the case proceeds to trial. In many cases, the parties can enter into a partial Judgment. A partial Judgment is when the parties agree on some issue but not all. In that case, the case only proceeds
If you do not agree on all of the issues in the case, a trial will take place. Once the judgment is filed and the court mails a Notice of Entry of Judgment to each attorney. This means the divorce has been finalized.
The Law Office of Vanessa Gnekow is able to provide Family Law Services in Southern California, with a focus in the Counties of San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside.