Divorce or “Dissolution of Marriage” can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. The process can be very difficult to navigate and emotions always run high. It is important to consult with an attorney if you are contemplating or ready to go through a divorce so that they can determine the issues involved in your case and explain your rights and obligations under California law. Divorce can involve many aspects including child custody and visitation, property division, child and spousal support and even restraining orders. A divorce may also include a modification of prior orders.
In a divorce in California, it is not necessary for both spouses to agree to end the marriage. In other words, if one spouse does not want the divorce, or refuses to participate, the other spouse is still entitled under the law to end the marriage. The refusing spouse cannot stop the process and the requesting spouse can get a “default” judgment, allowing them to end the marriage without the other parties’ participation.
Clients often wonder whether such things as adultery or other reasons for the divorce will play a role. While they may play a role in reimbursements one party may be entitled to in some circumstances, California is a “no fault” divorce state. This means that the spouse requesting the divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong in order to get a divorce. Further, a spouse who commits adultery or any other act which resulted in the end of the marriage will not be at any disadvantage with respect to property division, support, custody, etc., by virtue of their actions alone. California courts simply do not consider fault in divorce cases. Typically, individuals will divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
It is important to understand the divorce process prior to embarking on this journey. It can be very straightforward or extremely contentious depending on how you and your spouse each handle the task at hand. The majority of divorce cases tend to fall somewhere in the middle. In all divorce cases, the initiating spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution and a Summons with the court. This opens a case and gets the process started. Then, the other spouse must be served with this paperwork. Once the other spouse (the Respondent) is served, they have 30 days to file a Response and Request for Dissolution with the court. If they do not do so, the requesting party can proceed by default. But what happens next if a Response is filed? In the simplest of cases (meaning cases where both parties agree on most or all aspects of their case), the parties exchange financial disclosures (or Preliminary Declarations of Disclosures) and then a Stipulated Judgment or Marital Settlement Agreement is drafted, agreed upon, signed by both parties and processed by the court. In all cases, parties must exchange financial disclosures in order to obtain a divorce. Whether the divorce will be a simple or contentious process requiring litigation will depend on the parties involved and how much they are able to settle. Ultimately, if parties cannot agree on all aspects of their case, a Judge will decide for them.
We understand that parties participating in a divorce case are likely under a great deal of stress during such a difficult time. Navigating the complexities of divorce on your own, whether it be a simple or a complicated case, can be detrimental to your future and your children’s future. Therefore, obtaining an experienced and knowledgeable attorney is of utmost importance. At Argyris Mah, LLP we can help guide you through every step of the process and are committed to providing you with compassionate, professional and specialized representation that meets all of your needs.