It is natural for a married couple to have disagreements from time to time. These disagreements can sometimes turn into irreconcilable matters requiring legal intervention in order to resolve amicably. It is essential that you get yourself a competent divorce attorney to represent you during this lengthy period. Here at the Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, we fully understand the legal procedures of a California divorce process and can help you navigate through it with ultimate success. In case you have children and assets, we will provide the necessary legal guidance for you to get what is rightfully yours. In Los Angeles, the divorce process is long and cumbersome, but we support our clients by guiding them appropriately.
The California Divorce Process
Divorce cases vary from one family to another. A marriage that has not lasted couple of years will be a simpler for the judge to dissolve. Chances are that such couples have no children or tangible property. The case is likely to be ruled as a summary or simplified dissolution; which helps you avoid going to trial. You are allowed to decide how you will share the assets and debts. If, however, your marriage has lasted for a long period and you already own community assets and have children, the process of dissolving the marriage will be long especially if you do not have an amicable relationship with your spouse. The process of dissolving a marriage in California need to follow specific steps. They include:
Filing for Divorce and Serving the Respondent with Papers.
The divorce process begins by one partner or spouse filing a petition for dissolution. The spouse who files for dissolution first becomes the petitioner while the other partner becomes the respondent. Keep in mind the petition must explain clearly why the petitioner feels the marriage has reached an end and there is no way to mend the disputes unless by dissolution. This filing should be done in a court in the county where the couple has been living for the last quarter of the year or where one of them has been living since separating ways.
The petitioner is expected to pay four hundred ($400) dollars to cater for the filing fee. If you cannot afford the requested amount, a fee waiver can help you acquire the forms. The respondent should be served with the paperwork by an expert sent by your lawyer. These experts are referred to as registered servers. When the paperwork is served to the respondent by their marriage partner, relative or friend, they might deny being served. But when a professional server is sent by your lawyer to deliver the petition, the respondent cannot deny being served and if they try, it cannot hold in a court of law.
If the person being served is not around, the papers can be sent via mail. However, the person being served must sign the form included in the petition as a way of acknowledging the papers have been received.
Filing a Response within a Month After Being Served.
The respondent is required by law to provide a response within thirty (30) days of getting served. When filing the answer forms in court, the respondent is required to pay four hundred ($400) dollars as well. The petitioner should receive the official answer filed by the respondent to see what the respondent deems to be true and what they deny about the petition. The petitioner might raise particular issues that their partner is not aware of issues that they deem untrue.
Failure to respond on time leads to a default lawsuit which means the petitioner wins the judgment. If you are unable to meet the timeline in such a lawsuit, contact your lawyer so that they can find other options you may have. At times, the petitioner might have made a lot of errors in the paperwork making it difficult to understand the complaint or claim. File an answer form so that the errors and omissions can be rectified. Do not do fill the petition forms without an attorney to avoid making such mistakes that will take longer to correct.
Some respondents or spouses who do not file for dissolution first might have more issues to raise when filing answers to the petition. This will require the filing of a counter petition by the respondent which the petitioner must file an answer for. The main issue when responding is to observe the time period to avoid a default process because that might alter favorable outcomes.
Filing Extra paperwork.
One of the spouses might want to keep custody of the children until the case is heard or in case of a restraining order. Order forms or worksheets are available for temporary child support or custody. Once a partner is served with these order forms or worksheets, they should file an answer. If the respondent does not support the request by the other spouse, they can file for a counter-petition stating why the other party should not get temporary custody of the kids.
The counter-petition should involve a financial affidavit declaring revenue and expenses of the respondent. That way, the court cannot ignore it. If the children are minors, an affidavit must be filed too even in cases where the couple agrees on visitation and how to share time. In the event of domestic violence or child abuse, you can file for an emergency petition so that the case is heard right away. If your claims about abuse and violence are true, you will likely get custody of the kids.
Hearing on Additional Requests.
If you had filed for temporary custody or child support, a hearing will be set. The spouse who filed for the request must show up with their legal practitioner. Failure to do so means the request will be automatically turned down. However, if you cannot make it to the hearing but have time for the hearing, you can appear through a phone call. This will happen only if the judge accepts your appearance via phone request.
If the requests made by one of the spouses can be resolved before the date set for the hearing, the better. Couples that are still in good terms can sit down with their attorneys and settle the matter instead of a hearing. On the date of hearing, the reached settlement will be presented to the judge so that they can evaluate it and see if it stands or not. In the event the issues were not resolved prior to the hearing, it will take time for the request to be heard and a verdict given. A hearing can last for up to five hours but the main aspect that determines the duration is the scope of the case. A complex case can go for more than five hours.
When the ruling comes out, it might be communicated orally or their attorneys will receive the judgement through the mail.
Revealing of Information to the Other Party.
Aside from filing a financial affidavit, it is vital to disclose financial and other information to the other spouse. It is their right to know the information you have about the case and against them. The disclosure of information and documents relating to the lawsuit to the other spouse is called discovery. Some of the information that must be disclosed include evidence of income, bank account information, debt statements, and others. You are not supposed to lie in discovery because you will be responding to questions when under oath.
When you are served with a discovery you should respond within a period of two months. However, if you cannot meet the timeline, you can ask the judge to extend the time. Declaring all the financial information including assets and debts by both parties helps the court to identify, value and share all property that is owned jointly by the couple. The law must be followed to the letter during property division.
Do not conceal any information about your bank account, credit cards, and other assets because it will render the declaration as false. Leaving out some information means the declaration is incomplete and this will slow down the marriage dissolution procedure. Disclose every detail that can help in the proceeding to be on the safe side. Otherwise, you will be forced to pay your spouse’s lawyer for the hassle they will undergo researching answers to questions you have failed to answer or when you have failed to disclose crucial information.
When parties exchange information and documents regarding the case, experts are invited to give their testimonies regarding various issues. Expert witnesses are often appointed or hired. These experts include property appraisers, CPA firms or accountants and specialists from child custody department. The research and recommendations of these professionals will be used by the court to make crucial decisions on certain things such as child support, custody, visitation and property of a certain spouse.
Discussion of a Settlement Contract.
The partners and lawyers are required to go through a mediation process to see if they can come up with an agreement. The mediators can draft the terms and conditions of the contract and then review them together with their clients. If the mediation is successful, the case will not see the light of a courtroom. Do not sign the agreement without understanding what it states because this can lead to future regrets. When mediation fails, the case will go straight to court.
It is wise to try and reach an agreement without going to court. The divorce period is very stressful and a significant number of couples in Los Angeles may become depressed during this time. Your normal routine becomes difficult to adhere to because of the stress involved when parting ways with someone you love or used to love and lived with under the same roof for a long period. A quick conclusion of the process through mediation will help avoid extra costs for paying lawyers and save time. That way, you can get back to your normal life.
Going to Trial.
The case will go to trial if one of the spouses disagrees with the contract terms. A trial should be your least favorite option because the case will have to be settled in court. Your partner might delay the hearing by making requests for more time to prepare for the case which might be a disadvantage to you. But because you are already there, you must be patient and prepare with your lawyer to understand the court process and how you are supposed to testify.
When the verdict or ruling of the trial is out, it will be read orally in court or mailed to your lawyers. The judge prepares a document stating that the marriage has been dissolved. The contract also contains orders from the court which must be adhered to. After the document is signed, the spouses are officially divorced.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Divorce Process
What most people fail to understand about marriage is that it is difficult. It is not about how you live without conflicts or disputes, but how you resolve the disputes. Very few spouses know how to handle marriage problems hence the reason many marriages are being dissolved. When clients are seeking our services at Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, these are the questions they frequently ask.
How much does it Cost to Hire a Divorce Lawyer in Los Angeles?
A Divorce in California is costly. You must be willing to part with a hefty amount of money per hour. The general hourly rates are between one hundred and fifty dollars ($150) and six hundred dollars ($600). The total amount paid will, therefore, depend on the complexity of the case and the spouses. Some of the things that can increase the cost of the divorce include; couples who fail to cooperate, failure to reach an agreement during mediation and lack of organization on the part of the client when gathering documents and delivering them.
What are some of the Things I can do To Minimize Costs of the Divorce?
The best way to cut costs in the divorce process is by reaching an agreement. Before a case goes to trial, couples are presented with the opportunity to discuss the issues at hand and come up with an agreement. You can cut costs by reaching an agreement. However, you must make sure that during discussing, you use a Los Angeles divorce lawyer and not your family counselor or therapist. The reason you need a lawyer is that once you have agreed on custody of the kids, time-sharing or visitation, and division of joint property, the agreement needs to be put in writing.
Your therapist cannot prepare a good contract so it is best to use a lawyer so that he or she can make sure the agreement is enforced preventing conflicts in the long run. When both parties sit down willingly to find common ground, the cost of the process is lowered significantly. The amount of money a lawyer charges to act as a mediator is a fraction of what they ask for to represent you in court. Staying organized and answering the lawyer’s questions with utmost clarity will lower costs too.
How Can I Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?
Family law attorneys are not equal. They have different personalities and approaches. This means not everyone claiming to be a divorce attorney is right for you. Marriage dissolution is going to drain you emotionally and at times you might not make informed decisions. Due to that, it is only wise to hire someone who will be empathic and knowledgeable.
Some levels of aggressiveness are also required from the attorney during delivery. Getting a lawyer who is aggressive at times is advantageous but only if you cooperate. Otherwise, you will end up paying penalties that will make the process costly. Stay on the safe side by hiring a divorce lawyer who has experience representing cases like yours in the past. That way, you will get value for your money.
How Long is the Divorce Process?
The state of California ensures that you think thoroughly about your decision before separating with your partner. Once the petitioner files a divorce case and the respondent files an answer, the case begins and it takes a period of six months for a ruling to be given. Compared to how long marriage takes, marriage dissolution process in California is long.
Contacting a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer Near Me
Protecting your property, children and finances should be your first obligation when planning to file for a marriage dissolution. At Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, we have your back on these issues. Our team of licensed and experienced lawyers will use all the necessary resources for a positive outcome to your case. We represent hundreds of spouses in Los Angeles every year which has led to great experience and knowledge in understanding how the divorce process works. With us by your side, you will get the results you deserve on alimony, joint property,child custody and support. In case your marriage is not working and you have tried everything, contact us. For more information regarding your divorce case, reach us at 310-695-5212 to speak to one of our proficient attorneys today.