The Family Law court system is built to be accessible to non-lawyers but dissolution actions can be legally intensive and may require a great deal of paperwork to file, appearances to make and information to gather. It can be daunting and stressful- something you don’t need in the midst of the most stressful time of your life.
In California, the terms dissolution of marriage and divorce are interchangeable and California is a no-fault state, meaning that the court will not make a finding of wrongdoing against either spouse. Dissolution of marriage (or “no fault divorce”) can be granted if the court finds there are “Irreconcilable differences” that have caused the breakdown of the marriage. This means that if one spouse wishes to end your marriage, he or she can do so, even if the other spouse disagrees.
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 presumptively considered community to be property and will be divided equally by the court. The court will also equally divide any debts acquired during the marriage. Any property that was acquired before marriage, after the date of separation, or by bequest or inheritance is presumptively the separate property of the spouse who acquired it.
A typical dissolution of marriage or divorce requires the following steps and we will be right there with you every step of the way:
- The Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage is filed and personally served on the Respondent.
- The Respondent has thirty days to file a Response to Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage.
- Request temporary court orders by filing for an Order to Show Cause hearing. At this hearing, the judge can make temporary awards of child custody, child and or spousal support, attorney’s fees, or property orders, if appropriate.
- The discovery process begins, and both spouses exchange financial information and documents that are relevant to the case. 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.
- Other forms of discovery are form interrogatories, special interrogatories, demands for inspection of dowments or things, requests for admission and depositions (oral examination under penalty of perjury).
- 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. 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. This is a contract that is signed by you and your lawyers.
- If you do not agree on all of the issues in the case, a trial will take place.
- After both of you sign the Marital Settlement Agreement or after the trial has concluded, one of the attorneys will prepare a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This is the document that contains all of the court’s orders. The judgment is filed and the court mails a Notice of Entry of Judgment to each attorney. This means the divorce has been finalized.
Divorce Frequently Asked Questions
Contact Us for a Complimentary Intake Interview of your California Divorce or Dissolution Action by calling our Sacramento office at 916-851-1900 or emailing Family Law attorney, Neil Forester, Certified Family Law Specialist* & Head of Goyette & Associates Family Law Division.*Consultations with Mr. Forester will be billed at his hourly rate
Goyette & Associates is able to provide our Family Law Services to all of California, with a focus on El Dorado County including Placerville and El Dorado Hills , Placer County including Granite Bay, Roseville, Rocklin, Loomis, Auburn and Penryn; Sacramento County including Folsom and Sacramento; Nevada County including Tahoe, Truckee, Nevada City and Grass Valley; San Joaquin and Stanaislaus Counties.
* Certified Family Law Specialist – California Board of Legal Specialization