Responding to Divorce or Legal Separation Filings
Either spouse in a marriage or as a partner in registered domestic partnership has the right to request the court to terminate their legal relationship. Your domestic partner or spouse has requested the court to end the relationship in case you received a summons and petition for legal separation or dissolution (divorce). In Orange County, California, the court has the power to end domestic partnership or marriage even if the other partner is unwilling to be legally separated or divorced.
Any registered domestic partners or married couple can terminate their marital status six months after papers are first filed at courthouse and then the copies of such papers served on the respondent, in such case, as yourself.
In case you are served with summons and petition, then you are regarded as the respondent in court case for legal separation or divorce. You must carefully read papers served to you. The Petition informs you what your domestic partner or spouse (the petitioner) has asked for. You can get important information concerning your rights from The Summons and about the process of separation or divorce. There will be standard restraining orders which will restrict what you can do with the property, assets or debts. You or your partner or spouse can be prohibited to move out of state with children borne from the partnership or marriage. You may also be stopped from applying or renewal of passport for the children, without prior written consent. A court order could be required.
You have a number of options after being served. The easiest thing to do is to do absolutely nothing. If you take this path, then demands of your partner will be granted in its entirety. This situation is termed “true default”. If your agreement is written and notarized and where you and your domestic partner or spouse has agreed to end the partnership or marriage, then also you have to do nothing. If you and your spouse agree about other things like property division, partner or spousal support, then it is also termed as “default”. This is due to the fact that you have not filed for any response.
Other ways of responding include filing a response with court but also reach the needed agreement with domestic partner or spouse about all issues. This option is regarded as “uncontested” case as you and your domestic partner or spouse is not battling over issues. If you file a response with court, and also disagree with domestic partner or spouse, then it is regarded as a “contest.”
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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