At Your Side During Stressful Times
Divorce is one of the most stressful and emotional times of your life. You need a skilled and experienced professional who will put your fears at ease and provide you the support and guidance you need.
I am Donna Denham. As a divorce attorney in San Diego, California, I have years of experience with all aspects of the divorce process and will help guide and advise you at every step.
The Divorce Process In San Diego
The person who initially files for a divorce is called the petitioner. Either party can file first. The divorce is initiated when the petitioner files the Request for Dissolution of Marriage and Summons and pays a filing fee.
If there are children of the relationship, another form must also be filed. That form is the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
Generally, the court requires the petitioner to pay a filing fee unless the petitioner qualifies for a fee waiver.
The court clerk will stamp and return the copies of the filed forms to the petitioner. Once the forms are filed with the court, someone 18 or older (not the petitioner) must personally serve the other party with the documents and a blank copy of the same forms. Once the documents have been served on the other party, who is known as the respondent, the petitioner must file a proof of personal service with court.
After the respondent is personally served, the respondent has 30 calendar days to file a response to the petition with the court and pay the filing fee or obtain a fee waiver. A letter, phone call, or court appearance will not protect you. If you do not file your Response on time, the court may make orders affecting your marriage or domestic partnership, your property, and custody of your children. You may be ordered to pay support and attorney fees and costs.
Once the Summons and Petition are served, starting immediately there are Standard Family Law Restraining Orders. Both parties are restrained from: (1) Removing the minor children of the parties from the state or applying for a new or replacement passport for those minor children without the prior written consent of the other party or an order of the court. (2) cashing, borrowing against, canceling, transferring, disposing of, or changing the beneficiaries of any insurance or other coverage, including life, health, automobile, and disability, held for the benefit of the parties and their minor children. (3) transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing, or in a any way disposing of any property, real or personal, whether community, quasi-community, or separate, without the written consent of the other party or an order of the court, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life and (4) creating a nonprobate transfer or modifying a nonprobate transfer in a manner that affects the disposition of property subject to the transfer, without the written consent of the other party or an order of the court. Before revocation of a nonprobate transfer can take effect or a right of survivorship to property can be eliminated, notice of the change must be frilled and served on the other party. California Code, Family Code – FAM § 2040.
Each party must notify each other of any proposed extraordinary expenses at least 5 days prior to incurring these extraordinary expenses made after the restraining orders are effective. However, you may use community property, quasi-community property, or your own separate property to pay an attorney to help you or to pay court costs.
After the petitioner serves the petition and related documents, the petitioner has 60 days to complete the financial disclosures – which are comprised of a Declaration of Disclosure, an Income and Expense Declaration, and a Schedule of Assets and Debts or a Property Declaration – and serve these documents, along with all tax returns filed by the party in the last two years.
These documents are not filed with the court. If the respondent filed a Response to the petition, the respondent must also complete the financial disclosures within 60 days of filing the response. The court cannot complete the dissolution of marriage until this has been completed. Both parties must complete and file a Declaration Regarding Service of the Declaration of Disclosure with the court.
Concluding A San Diego County Divorce Case
The case can be concluded in one of four ways:
1. If the respondent did not file a response, known as “default:”
a. No response filed, no written agreement between the parties (true default). The petitioner must wait until after the 30 days has passed and must have completed the Declaration of Disclosure and filed the Declaration Regarding Service of the Declaration of Disclosure with the court. The petitioner prepares a proposed judgment and other required forms for a default. A default hearing is generally set by the court. The termination of the marriage is concluded without the respondent’s participation.
b. No response filed but written agreement between the parties. Petitioner attaches the signed and notarized written agreement to the proposed judgment and other required forms. No hearing is required. The court processes the documents, and the marriage is terminated subject to the terms of the parties’ agreement.
2. Response filed and written agreement between the parties. Either party may submit the proposed judgment and attach the signed agreement and other required forms. Again, the court processes the documents and the marriage is terminated subject to the terms of the parties’ agreement (uncontested case).
3. Response filed and no agreement between the parties. The court sets a trial date, and the judge will resolve the issues (contested case).
The earliest date a marriage can be terminated is six months from the date the respondent is served with the divorce papers. The parties are not divorced until the court enters a judgment on the case.
If immediate orders are needed for custody and visitation or child support, a party must file for an interim order.