The Main Requirements for Filing For Divorce or Dissolution in California
To file for a divorce or dissolution, you need to speak to a skilled Orange County divorce attorney to understand that California is a no fault state, and what this means.
One of the first questions many divorce attorneys get in California is usually, “What are the grounds for divorce?” The first thing those seeking to end their marriage need to know is that California is a no fault state and divorce is more often than not referred to as dissolution. In addition, since this is a no fault state, this means the courts don’t look at which party is at fault when they need to make a decision about issues such as support and the division of community property.
Be aware as well that there are some residency requirements that must be met by both of the parties to the dissolution. For example, either you or your spouse must have lived here for the last six months and you “must” live in the county in which you will be filing for dissolution for the last three months. On the other hand, if you meet the “living in California for six months” criteria, but have lived in different counties for at least three months, then you may file in either county.
It’s usually a smart thing to do to speak with a qualified Orange County divorce attorney to find out what your rights are when you file for dissolution and how to go about it. Representing yourself in situations like this is not a good idea, as there are a number of pitfalls – for example the division of community property – that may wind up to be a highly contentious issue. Without the expert assistance of an Orange County attorney, flying solo may land you in a great deal of hot water.
If you still wish to proceed with your dissolution, generally speaking, you must have your attorney file and serve a petition and summons with the courts prior to having it served on your spouse. This means that you become the petitioner and your spouse the respondent. If you have children you will need to ask your Orange County divorce attorney about filing a UCCJEA declaration relating to your children of your marriage.
If you happen to be served with a petition and summons and didn’t see it coming or don’t know what to do with it, contact a highly reputable Orange Country divorce attorney who will explain the process and what you need to do. Generally speaking as a respondent, there will be 30 days to file and have a response served. If you wait too long to speak to an attorney, and your response is not filed, the person who filed the papers (the petitioner) may ask for a default judgment.
Another thing you will need to know is that if you have been served with a petition and summons, the date when they were served on you is when the clock starts ticking for the earliest time for you to get a judgment of dissolution or divorce. Put another way, neither of the parties is considered to be divorced any “earlier” than 6 months after the date when the papers were served.
Many people do not realize that the summons has an automatic restraining order attached to it and that it applies to “both” parties. If either one of you violate the restraining order, you run the risk of being held in contempt of court.
There are many other issues that couples contemplating a dissolution need to know (division of community property, spousal support, etc.) before they make their final decision to proceed or not. It’s vital in instances like this to discuss your rights with an Orange County divorce attorney.
Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange County divorce attorney, in Irvine, California. For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com.