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Divorce is never easy

Once you have decided to file for divorce, or your spouse has, it is extremely important to become aware of the legal process and your rights.  In fact, often times it is best to obtain this information there is an indication that the relationship cannot be saved.  Before you file, there are a number of jurisdictional and venue questions that must be answered to ensure your case is filed in the correct state and county.  For instance, to file for divorce in a county of California you must be a residence of the State of California for at least six months, and the filing county for three months.

A divorce is a civil lawsuit, similar to a personal injury or negligence case.  The petition for divorce, together with a number of other documents, are filed and then personally served on the other party.  The divorce petition is often an overlooked document because it is general in nature.  However, the “checked boxes” and relief sought in the petition can have tremendous impacts on the final determination by the court, so it is important to know not only what boxes to “check,” but why.  A divorce lawsuit gives the court the power to issue orders regarding child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and property division and control.

Additionally, recent laws require certain preliminary financial disclosures to be served with the petition.  Sometimes other people, or entities, must be joined to the case so that the court can order them to do or not do certain things.  While service of the divorce papers can be a concern if the other party is avoiding service, the law provides additional avenues of service.

The date of service of the divorce papers on the petitioner not only triggers the 30 day time frame to file and serve a response, but also initiates automatic temporary restraining orders that prevent, among other things, the removal of a child from the state, the cancellation of insurance policies, transfer of money, and changing title to real property.  Like the petition, preliminary financial disclosures must be served with the response.  If a party fails to file a response within the legal time frame they risk being closed out of the litigation by “default.”  The court can enter a judgment for dissolution of marriage (aka divorce) not less than six months after the date of service.

Some parties choose to file for “legal separation” instead of divorce.  There are a number of reasons that a spouse would make this decision, including tax advantages, religious reasons, or dependent health insurance reasons.

Specific orders for child custody, child support, spousal support, or property matters will not be issued simply by the filing of the divorce petition or response.  Instead, specific request for orders must be filed to get such orders pending judgment in the case, as well as after the judgment.

Although divorce can often be highly contested and emotional time in your life, our attorneys always seek a resolution oriented approach to protect you and your family. If you are contemplating divorce, or have been served with divorce papers, do not hesitate and immediately contact Singer & Associates to set up a consultation to better understand your situation. 

Each case has unique facts and circumstances and this area of law is always changing.  Readers are encouraged to seek independent legal advice regarding their individual situation and legal issues.  Contact the attorney’s of Singer & Associate Law Office to set up a consultation.