In California, it only takes one spouse to end a marriage, and your spouse does not have to prove you’ve done something wrong. If you’ve received a petition and summons for dissolution, your spouse is seeking a divorce. This can be a stressful and confusing time. The whole process takes at least 6 months to complete. Knowing what to expect can help ease the burden.
Responding to the Petition and Summons
In the petition, you can see what your spouse is asking of the court, including child custody preferences and support payments. The petition will also contain some restrictions on what you can do while the process moves forward, such as selling property or moving your children out of state. At this point, you have a few options for the next step:
- Don’t respond: If you don’t respond to the petition and summons, the court will probably grant your spouse all that was requested. This is called a default, “true default,” or uncontested case.
- Don’t respond but work out an agreement with your spouse: This is called a “default with agreement” case. You can work out child custody arrangements, support, property division, and other issues in the agreement.
- File a response but work out an agreement with your spouse: This is called an uncontested case.
- File a response with no agreement with your spouse: This is a contested case because you and your spouse do not agree. You are each asking opposing requests of the court and the issues must be worked out.
If you file a response, you must do so within 30 days of receiving the petition and summons. You also need to give a copy to your spouse. The response document is similar to the petition, and will give you a chance to make your own requests.
The next step will be to complete financial disclosure forms and related documents. You must disclose all your debts, assets, income, expenses, and property rights. Your spouse will do the same. This will help determine who gets what property and what levels of child and spousal support are appropriate. This must be done within 60 days of filing your response.
Working out the Marital Settlement Agreement
Using the financial disclosures, both sides will try to work out an agreement. Each party will have a chance to request more information from the other if needed. If disputes arise that can’t be worked out, you may need to go to court.
Final Judgment by the Court
Whether by litigation or agreement, eventually there is a resolution. The marital settlement agreement is submitted to the court and a final judgment is issued. You might be able to have the agreement modified later on if your circumstances change. For instance, if you are required to pay child support, but your work hours are cut, you might be able to have the amount modified.
Minella Law Group can Help you Through the Process of Divorce
If your spouse has filed for divorce, we can help ease the burden and guide you through the process.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, click the button below, or call us at (619) 289-7948. We look forward to helping you.