The California Divorce Process Explained

Written By Alla Levin
April 27, 2022

The California Divorce Process Explained

Believe it or not, divorce is also one of the many things that have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 outburst. In some scenarios, couples were forced to split as a result of their inaction, while others were unable to go further due to economic uncertainties. In either case, in 2020, California divorce lawyers reported a surge in divorce rates, which was directly correlated to the ongoing pandemic and “the new normal.” 

Whether you’re thinking about divorce or are currently in the middle of it, it’s important to understand the procedures you’ll need to follow to end your marriage. It’s also a good idea to hire an expert family law attorney to assist you with these tasks. In this brief article, we’ll thoroughly explain the California divorce process and everything that you need to know if you’re thinking about getting out of your marriage.  

The Three Types Of Divorce In California

To begin with, there are three distinct types of divorce procedures in California:

  • Contested Divorce. When a pair is unable to reach an agreement on property distribution, child custody and support, and other issues, they and their counsel will present their cases to a court, which will settle all unresolved issues.
  • Uncontested Divorce. When a couple can agree on all aspects of their divorce, they frequently hire attorneys to prepare the agreements and bring them to the court for approval. Partners who fulfill specific criteria, such as no minor children and minimal possessions, can file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution and submit completed spreadsheets to the court with agreed-upon conditions.
  • Collaborative Divorce. In this situation, the couple and their counsel agree to work out their disagreements over the divorce arrangements without going to court. Other professionals (like accountants and child custody experts) may be consulted with both spouses and their attorneys in order to establish an arrangement that will be authorized by the court without the need for a court battle.

To get you acquainted with the process in detail, scroll below to learn what are the 5 stages of divorce in California.

Filling A PetitionThe California Divorce Process Explained

After checking your eligibility for divorce under California law, the first step is to file a petition. The divorce petition (also known as a petition for dissolution) must be filed with your county’s court clerk at the following stage in the divorce procedure. This is the initial set of divorce papers that starts the divorce process.

The purpose of this package is to identify the people involved and provide some basic information regarding them. This involves completing a financial disclosure form in which you must list all of your assets, whether or not they are shared with your spouse. When the time comes to submit a response, your partner must do the same. At this stage, whoever submits the petition will then be liable for paying a $435 filing fee. If you are unable to pay the charge, you may obtain a fee waiver from the court.

The date on which the petition is filed is frequently used as your legal separation date. In this case, formal separation simply refers to the point at which irreconcilable disagreements arose. You and your spouse will no longer have communal property after your formal separation date.

Serving Your Spouse

You must serve your spouse once you have submitted the petition. This simply entails notifying your spouse that a divorce case has been filed and presenting them with a copy of all of the divorce paperwork you have filed thus far. Because this is a legal notice, there are a few limitations on who can serve the respondent.

You have the option of hiring a professional process server or requesting the assistance of anybody over the age of 18 who is not a party to the lawsuit in California. If you and your spouse are on amicable terms, you can also serve them by mail, in which case they must sign and send a paper stating that they have received the notice.

Waiting For The Response

After you’ve served your spouse with divorce papers, they’ll have 30 days to file a response, which is a separate set of divorce paperwork. They, too, will have to submit their paperwork to the court clerk. If your spouse does not respond within this term, the court has the power to enter a default judgment against them. This implies they will be unable to express their choices in family law concerns like child custody, child and spousal support, and the distribution of communal property.

Arriving At An Agreementgetting a divorce in Texas, for example. 

Assuming the respondent has evaded default judgment, you will now both be participating in settling the aforementioned concerns of child custody, child and spousal support, and the distribution of community property. You’re undoubtedly aware that you can accomplish it with the help of a divorce lawyer, through divorce mediation, on your own, or with the help of an online divorce platform.

You and your husband both engage a lawyer and a mental health expert to act as your personal advocates and divorce coaches, respectively, in a collaborative divorce. Many people ask at this stage about the length of the process until reaching a judgment. No one can tell precisely, but this process definitely lasts longer on average, in contrast to getting a divorce in Texas, for example. 

Getting A Final Judgment 

You’re ready to formalize your divorce now that you and your husband have split your lives (either via negotiation or court order).

A judge will double-check that all prior divorce paperwork has been submitted correctly. If you and your spouse discussed your divorce settlement, they will look through your plan to make sure it does not appear forceful. You will obtain a final divorce decision if everything is in order (alternatively known as a divorce decree). Congratulations! You made it through this terrifying procedure unscathed.

The California divorce process explained: final thoughts

Whether it’s a consensual choice or an unexpected move by one spouse, divorce may be psychologically and financially exhausting. Understanding the process of divorce might help make the process go more smoothly. In most circumstances, speaking with a divorce lawyer to explore your alternatives and safeguard your rights is a good idea.

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