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How Do I Start the Divorce Process?

start the divorce processIn California, a marriage or registered domestic partnership may be ended through divorce, legal separation and annulment. Divorce can occur if either spouse wants the legal relationship to end. However, there is a specific legal process that must be followed in order for the couple to officially separate and have their union dissolved in the eyes of the law.

An Irvine, CA divorce and family law professional at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide you with help throughout all of the necessary steps of your divorce. It is best to be represented by a qualified and experienced legal professional so you will have the best chance of getting a custody arrangement and financial settlement that allow you to move on comfortably with your life. Before you start the divorce process, call today to learn more.

How to Start the Divorce Process in California

The best way to start the divorce process is to speak with an attorney. Your lawyer will explain the requirements for dissolving your marriage in California and will help you to know what to expect as you negotiate on the issues of property division, child support, spousal support and custody.

Once you have decided you definitely want to go through with the divorce, you must begin by filing for divorce. California is a no fault divorce state, which means that you don’t have to claim there was any specific reason (such as adultery or abuse) that your marriage fell apart. If you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences and the marriage is irretrievably broken, this is a sufficient reason for dissolution of the marriage.

The steps involved in filing for divorce will vary depending upon the circumstances. If you and your spouse qualify for a summary dissolution, you may not even need to go to court for a hearing before a judge. You will simply need to file a joint petition for a summary dissolution, complete your worksheets and paperwork, and file your forms with the court clerk. If everything is done correctly, you will receive a signed Form FL-825 ending your marriage.

You can qualify for a summary dissolution if:

  • Your marriage has lasted for five years or less.
  • You do not have any children together (including adopted kids) and the wife is not pregnant with a child from the marriage.
  • You do not own any part of buildings or any land.
  • You do not rent any land or buildings except a private residence (as long as there is no option to buy the residence).
  • You have not acquired more than $6,000 of debt during the marriage.
  • Less than $40,000 of property has been acquired during the marriage.
  • Neither spouse has qualifying separate property in excess of $40,000.
  • Neither spouse wants spousal support.
  • You have come to an agreement on division of property, assets and debt.

If you do not qualify for a summary dissolution, the process is more complicated. You must begin by filing for divorce once you are sure you no longer wish to be married. Your spouse will then be served with papers.

Your spouse is given the opportunity to respond to the divorce papers and file their own paperwork with the court. Your spouse cannot just ignore the paperwork, even if he or she does not want to get divorced. If the person who is served with papers fails to answer or does not come to a hearing, the divorce will move forward anyway.

You and your spouse can negotiate a divorce agreement or have a trial and ask the judge to create a settlement for you. The agreement the judge creates or the negotiated divorce settlement will become legal and your marriage will be dissolved.

Brown & Charbonneau will assist you as you start the divorce process and at every step along the way. Call today to learn more.