Hopefully you’ve made it this far through your California divorce process with some ease. Often, the hardest part is reaching an agreement on how to divide your property to the satisfaction of both parties and the court.
For organization, think of this process as three separate stages:
First Stage – Dividing Property
You can go about dividing your property directly with your spouse, or if the need arises, with your lawyers and a mediator. As mentioned in part 2, California is a community property state and seeks to divide all marital property equally.
All items purchased during the marriage is considered community property, regardless of sentimental value. In order for property to be exempt from this rule, there must be a written agreement previously excluding the item or a verbal agreement between both parties to exempt the item from the process. If you’re ready to sign the Marital Settlement Agreement, the judge will assign property accordingly in a court-ordered final dissolution of your marriage.
Debts occurring after separation will also need to be assigned, with everyday living expenses being assigned to either spouse, and other unnecessary expenses assigned to the spouse responsible for the debt.
Second Stage – Calculating Alimony
California also handles alimony in a somewhat equal manner, limiting alimony awards on a short-term basis to give a spouse adequate time to rehabilitate their affairs after your divorce. This may include time for one spouse to gain employment or return to school to improve their employment opportunities, and is generally limited to three years.
Alimony payments are typically the smaller amount of $2500 a month or 20% of the paying spouse’s income. Family violence and domestic abuse are additional reasons for the judge to award alimony.
Third Stage – Establish Custody & Child Support
At all times, the judge will consider the best interest of children when dealing with custody issues. Either spouse can request a temporary child custody order early in the divorce process. As usual, if an agreement cannot be made, the judge will request you seek mediation. Temporary awards generally become permanent once your divorce is settled.
If mediation doesn’t work, a custody evaluation can be ordered. The judge will often make an arrangement that is as consistent as possible with how life was during your marriage. Child support is based directly on the income of both parents.
Settling Out of Court
If you and your spouse can come to a satisfactory out-of-court agreement, you can actually complete your entire California divorce without ever having to appear in court. Have both lawyers prepare a Settlement Agreement and finalize the other Orange County divorce papers for the court’s approval.
Remember: Even if you come to an agreement before the six month grace period, you’ll still have to wait the full six months before your divorce is finalized and you regain your single status.
To complete discovery, both parties must provide specific documentation and answer all questions posed by the other party. This will bring to light all the assets and debts that must be divided and finalized to complete your divorce. California law requires each party file disclosures known as “Preliminary and Final Declarations of Disclosure” prior to the time of settlement or trial.
Remember: Six months is the minimum amount of time required to complete your California divorce, but it could take longer depending on your specific circumstance. Cooperating with the court and both lawyers to complete the mandatory steps will help you get to the end on schedule and with less stress.
Call JPL Process Service today at (866) 754-0520 and see how we can serve your Orange County divorce papers, quickly and affordably.
With some luck, you and your spouse have come to some simple agreements on your divorce proceedings and can avoid the messy drama that comes to be of so many Orange County divorces.
Unfortunately, you’re still here reading and looking for answers, so let’s move on to the next stages of the California divorce process.
Assuming you’ve had your divorce Petition served by an Orange County process server, taken the chance of delivering yourself or by someone else your spouse “likes” about as much as they like you right now, or attempted to mail it, the court will require a response before moving on any further.
California Divorce Step 3 – Responding To The Divorce Petition
After the Respondent receives the divorce Petition, they will have 30 calendar days to file their response to the details outlined in the Petition. At that point, the court will schedule a hearing for your case in which you will go over any and all disputes you and your spouse have regarding property, alimony, custody and other issues.
In the event of custody disputes, the court will require you to perform Custody Mediation before any other hearings take place.
An Order to Show Cause will also need to be filed if these disputes cannot be resolved between the two of you and your lawyers. If this is the case, a hearing will be scheduled earlier so the court can deliver judgment on support, custody and even restraining orders if need be. Both parties will receive a copy of the judge’s verdict.
You’ll most likely need to call the court clerk and confirm you’ve been notified of your Custody Mediation and Hearing dates in order to proceed. If you miss your Custody Mediation hearings, the court can levy fines against you, or worse, come to judgment without your participation.
California Divorce Step 4 – Dividing Of Property
If you’re hoping for a speedy divorce, completing a Marital Settlement Agreement in a timely manner is crucial. This document outlines how you will go about dividing your property and splitting custody and support.
If both parties are unable to agree on these issues, you’ll need to request a trial for the judge to decide these issues for you. No matter how you feel about your spouse, their financial history or vice versa, California state law states that all community property and shared obligations be split equally unless both parties agree to an unequal split, which then and only then will be granted.
While dividing of property and debts from a divorce can be very complicated, it doesn’t need to be finalized in an apples to apples split. For example, your spouse may prefer taking proceeds from the sale of your home while you may prefer to have your assets held in an investment account of equal value instead. Your shared debts can be handled the same way, for example, if one party accepts debt that belongs to both of you, that amount is then deducted from assets gained by the other party.
Remember: Your shared debt is both of your responsibility, up to and sometimes even after the final judgment is made. Once you’ve both signed the Marital Settlement Agreement, filed it with the court clerk and received the judge’s signature, your agreement becomes a legally binding court order.
Call us today at (866) 754-0520 and see how our professional Orange County process servers can serve your divorce papers, quickly and affordably.
Orange County Divorce Process: Part 3
Even though California has a six month moratorium for divorces, simple divorce claims can actually be completed in less time, and more complicated claims can consume several years to crawl through litigation.
Why the six month grace period?
It’s due to the fact that your status as a single person can only be reestablished by a court after six months. Before that takes place, you are prohibited to remarry or file separate taxes and you’ll be considered by the State of California as married until you go through the general divorce procedure summarized in this three part series addressing your California divorce, including the best ways to serve divorce papers in Orange County.
California Divorce Step 1– Determine What Type Of Divorce You Want
If you and your spouse can reach a settlement on the conditions of your divorce, have no offspring and have been wed for no more than five years, you can submit a summary dissolution, which is the quickest route to completing your California divorce.
In the event you don’t fulfill the above qualifications, your subsequent possibility is to opt for an uncontested case. You and your spouse would need primarily agree on the specifications of custody and dividing of assets. If you can not decide, you’ll have to file a contested case, in which case you’ll next have to contact an attorney.
California Divorce Step 2– Starting The Divorce Process
To start the Dissolution process, you or your soon-to-be ex will have to file a Petition with the court. Whichever of you takes this action will be referred to as the “Petitioner” throughout your divorce, and the other will be referred to as the “Respondent.”
How Do You Serve Divorce Papers In Orange County?
In serving your divorce papers, you will have two alternatives: either by postal service or in person. It is highly recommended that you contract an Orange County process server to perform this duty for you, particularly if your spouse has been uncooperative up to this point.
Our licensed Orange County process servers will hand-carry your divorce papers swiftly, legally and without event. You’ll have unconditional verification of delivery and eliminate any possible problems.
Assuming you have resided in California for a minimum of six months and your current county for 3 months, you will need to submit your divorce in the county you presently live in. If your spouse lives in a different county, you may register your divorce in either county.
If you haven’t resided in California and your current county long enough, you will only be qualified to apply for a legal separation until you’ve established residency.
Once your spouse is given the Petition, the six-month waiting period the court mandates begins immediately. At the end of the six-month period, you become allowed to request your marital status be terminated and have a verdict recorded.
Remember: Employing an Orange County process server to serve your divorce papers can reduce many potential problems and steer clear of scenarios you ‘d rather not face. Our professional process servers are trained to make this difficult process as convenient as possible.
Call us today at (866) 754-0520 and see how we can serve your Orange County divorce papers, quickly and affordably.
Orange County Divorce Process: Part 2
Orange County Divorce Process: Part 3