Basic Steps in Filing a Divorce Petition
Although different states might have slight variations in the divorce legislation, the basic structure for filing a divorce remains largely the same. Below are the key steps involved in fling a divorce petition:
Filing the petition
You first need to file a ‘Petition for Dissolution of Marriage’ when seeking a divorce. The person filing the Petition is called the Plaintiff or Petitioner while the spouse is termed as the Defendant or Respondent. In the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, you state basic facts related to you and your spouse as well as the children (if any). This document is considered to be public record.
The respondent is then served with the original letter of complaint or petition. Typically, the petition is served by somebody from the local sheriff’s office. After the respondent received the petition, he/she is given 30 days to hire a lawyer and send a response to the original divorce petition. During this period, either of the involved parties might request for restraining or temporary or protective orders relating to alimony and child support.
Temporary divorce orders
The court has the authority to issue temporary orders which state certain actions that need to be taken immediately and continued till the last divorce hearing. For example, this might include spousal support, child custody and child support.
Such orders are legally binding. In the failure to follow them, the person might find himself/herself in contempt of court.
Financial investigations, settlement and negotiations
Financial investigations involve determining the marital estate’s value. This is also termed as “discovery”. Different discovery procedures in divorce cases include subpoenas, depositions, financial documents review and interrogatories. Visitation and custody are other issues that are addressed in negotiations.
When the parties fail to reach a settlement, the lawyers might consider submitting the controversial issues to the judge in a pretrial conference.
In case mediation does not work out and there are still unresolved issues, then a trial date is set with the court. Both parties get an opportunity to present their cases in front of a judge during the trial. It is important to have a discussion with the attorney regarding proper courtroom behavior. This will help you make a good impression when arguing your case before a judge.
After examining the available evidence, the judge will take a decision based on his perception of the case and pass appropriate divorce settlement.
Getting divorced in California can be complicated. Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.
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