The process of divorce is a simple one but this process can often be derailed by disagreement about major issues. Derailed or not, it is only a matter of time before your divorce is final and you are able to move on with your life. Understanding the basic process will ensure that you are able to get to the major issues quickly and that you are able to finish your case even quicker.
The first step on the road to divorce is filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The Petition will be the cover page for the rest of your case. It is essentially a very basic statement of the positions that you will be taking in the case. This basic statement can and probably will change over time but this will be your first opportunity to provide your soon-to-be ex-spouse with an idea of the positions you will be taking on the major issues mentioned on the Divorce main page and described in detail in other parts of this website.
Some spouses will have the unique pleasure of being served with the petition mentioned above. Being served means that you will be preparing a similar form in response to your spouses’ statement of the case called a Response to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The response is essentially a mirror image of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and will give you an opportunity to tell your spouse and the court what positions you intend to take in the case. You must file and serve this document within 30 days of being personally served with the petition. There are exceptions to this rule but it usually best that a response is filed within the 30-day timeframe.
It is very common to see on or both spouses file motions with the court for temporary orders after the initial Petition is filed. These temporary orders usually involve child custody, child support, spousal support, property control and even requests for attorney fees. These orders are often imperative to ensuring that a supported spouse has sufficient financial resources to maintain some semblance of their standard of living after the date of separation. Consultation with an attorney regarding what temporary orders you might be entitled to at the beginning of case is often extremely important, as certain types of support can only begin after a motion has been filed.
It is very common for parties new to the dissolution process to be concerned about the possibility that they do not have information about the extent of their assets and liabilities, trusting their spouse to take care of those things. The legislature understood this and has therefore required that the parties give each other whatever information they have about the extent of their estate.
Each party has specific timeframes within which they must disclose their income, assets and liabilities to the other party. The Petitioner, or spouse who started the case, must serve their disclosure documents within 60 days of service of their Petition on their spouse. The Respondent, or spouse who was served with the Petition, must complete their disclosure within 60 days of filing and service of their response. These documents can often be extensive and complicated depending on the condition of the community estate and the quality of the parties’ record-keeping.
After disclosures have been completed it is often time to begin settlement negotiations regarding all issues that exist in a case. While there may be ongoing litigation on certain issues in the case, proposals are often exchanged after disclosures have been completed. Having an experienced lawyer who can help you draft a settlement proposal or help you evaluate one you have received from the other side is often imperative to understanding whether a proposal prepared by your spouse or your spouse’s attorney is a good one. In our firm’s experience, parties spend more on attorneys to fix problems that occur at this stage than they would have spent ensuring that the agreement was correct in the first place. It is often far more expensive to fix errors in settlement agreements than it is to ensure that agreements were properly drafted. Having a Herrig & Vogt attorney at your side at this stage in the process could save you thousands.
Timeframe for finishing a divorce depends on the number of issues in the case and the willingness of the parties to resolve them amicably. While having an attorney could help you resolve the issues faster, having to involve the court will also involve the court’s calendar which means that it could take months to get a hearing and even longer to take an issue to trial. There is a six-month minimum time, however, before the court would consider terminating the status of the parties as married persons.
Again, the total costs of a divorce depends on a variety of factors in the case and the willingness of both parties to settle on a final agreement. If a divorce is hotly contested, perhaps requiring court litigation, the expenses add up due to court and attorney fees.
If you are interested in filing for divorce or modifying a current court order in Northern California, contact Herrig & Vogt, LLP and schedule a free consultation with our Roseville divorce lawyer today.
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