Understanding the Divorce Process in Orange County, CA
Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. This means the marriage no longer exists as far as the state of California is concerned, and that each party is free to remarry and move on with their lives. At Michel & Rhyne, we believe your understanding of the divorce process plays a critical role in the quality of your marriage dissolution agreement. Our Irvine divorce attorneys work closely with you to make sure the outcome of your divorce is fair. The following is a brief overview of the divorce process in California.
Meeting the Residency Requirement and Filing the Divorce Petition
In order to file a petition for divorce, at least one spouse must satisfy California’s residency requirement. This requirement is satisfied by residency in the state for six months preceding filing for divorce, plus residency in the county in which the divorce is filed for the preceding three months. The spouse who files for divorce—the petitioner—must file a petition and a summons with the court, as well as other paperwork as needed.
It is important to rely on an experienced attorney, as information must be disclosed at this stage regarding the marriage and the nature of the court orders sought. The other spouse—the respondent—has 30 days to respond to the divorce petition. If the respondent fails to properly respond, the divorce will nevertheless proceed without the respondent’s participation.
Disclosing Financial Information Including Property, Assets & Debts
Assuming that the respondent spouse properly replies within 30 days, the next step is full financial disclosure by both spouses. As Irvine divorce lawyers know, full disclosure is essential to the fair division of property and debt in divorce. Spouses who deliberately omit assets from their disclosure not only prolong the divorce process but also risk penalty by the court.
Moving the Court for Preliminary Orders
As the divorce proceeds through the financial disclosure phase, many spouses have their attorney move or ask the court for temporary orders involving everything from child custody, visitation and support, to alimony and domestic violence restraining orders. Relying on a trusted divorce law firm is important for these matters, as an experienced attorney can successfully argue to the court that these orders are necessary.
Negotiating at the Mandatory Settlement Conference
Before trial begins the court may schedule what is known as a Mandatory Settlement Conference, which both parties must attend. The purpose of the conference is to try and resolve as many issues as possible to narrow the scope of trial when the divorce reaches the courtroom. In some cases parties end up coming to a complete agreement. The divorce can then be finalized once six months have passed since the respondent was first served with notice of the divorce proceedings. In cases where outstanding issues remain, the divorce will move into a trial phase.
Litigating the Divorce in the Courtroom
Couples who go to trial will argue the remaining disagreements in their divorce to a judge. Counsel for both sides present evidence in support of their client’s case. Having an attorney residents consistently trust for their family law matters is important for a strong showing in the courtroom. The court will enter judgment on the outstanding issues before it, and so long as six months have passed since the respondent was served, the divorce will be final.
Consult an Accomplished Attorney in Irvine
Contact Michel & Rhyne to learn more about the divorce process in California and for information about how our Irvine lawyers can help you with your divorce.