In the state of California, a married couple who wishes to divorce can complete the process easily if they approach the matter in agreement. Even if both parties agree, however, California has a mandatory six-month waiting period. Any divorce will take a minimum of half a year. Anyone facing a divorce and who wants to finalize things as soon as possible must first be aware of the steps involved and consider the factors that can make a divorce take longer.
When Filing for Divorce, Be Aware of California Residency Requirements
A couple must first verify that they are eligible to file for divorce in California before they begin the process. The state requires the following for a couple to file for divorce:
- One or both parties must be a resident of California for at least six months before they can file.
- One or both parties must live in the country in which they intend to file divorce paperwork for a minimum of three months.
It makes things easier when both parties agree on the divorce. Still, California is a no-fault divorce state, so one spouse may file for divorce without having to prove any wrongdoing by the other, regardless of whether they agree.
Once Residency Is Confirmed, Paperwork Must Be Filed
When a person wants to file for divorce in California, they must submit a Petition for Dissolution (Form FL-100), as well as a Summons (Form FL-110) with the court in their jurisdiction. There may be additional paperwork to file if the couple has any children together.
Once one of the parties has filed the documents, they must officially serve their spouse with the paperwork. The individual may serve the papers on their own or get another person who is at least eighteen years of age to do so. If another person is serving the papers, they will have to file a Proof of Service of Summons (Form FL-115) with the court.
Once the papers are served, the spouse who receives them has thirty days to file a response. Failure to do so may result in the court issuing a default judgment. Once the spouse has been served papers and responds, or either party files an Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers form, the court will officially file for the divorce.
The Waiting Period Begins
Once the court has officially filed a couple’s divorce paperwork, they begin the mandatory six-month waiting period required by the state. This is the time frame the state allows for the couple to potentially resolve their issues and reconcile, which would end the divorce proceedings. Even when each party agrees they want a divorce, the state requires the six-month waiting period before they will finalize the divorce.
In some cases, the court might issue a judgment on the couple’s case before the end of the waiting period, but it is essential to note that such a judgment does not verify the dissolution of the marriage. In such cases, the couple is still considered to be legally married until the day after the waiting period ends.
The Court Makes a Judgment and Terminates the Marriage
When a couple is in the six-month waiting period, they may enter into certain processes to finalize their divorce. Once complete, the court issues a judgment that details various terms of the divorce, such as custody agreements and division of assets. There are three ways in which this judgment may be issued:
- The two parties agree on all of the terms of their divorce as they negotiate and sign a written agreement to finalize the divorce.
- The two individuals do not agree on the terms of the divorce, so the court issues a judgment after the couple’s divorce trial.
- One spouse files for divorce, and the other fails to respond, spurring the court to issue a default judgment.
Potentially Complicating Factors in the Divorce Process
Even when a couple agrees that they want a divorce, there are many issues they must work out before they begin the next chapter of their lives. In the process of settling these matters, various facets may slow the divorce process down.
- Child custody. Although it may seem that the mother always gets custody of the children in a divorce, this is not the case. California law doesn’t favor either parent when it comes to custody arrangements. At times, the two parents are able to reach an agreement for custody on their own, but even when they do, a judge must approve their plan.
- Child support. In addition to a viable custody arrangement, a couple must address the issue of child support when they are going through a divorce. This is an important matter for both parents, as the expenses involved with raising children are still one of the biggest budget items in their lives moving forward.It is important to note that while some facets of family law allow for interpretation, child support is determined by a strict mathematical formula. The equation figures in each parent’s income and the amount of time they spend with the children, as well as other financial matters.
- Spousal support. In most marriages, one spouse earns more income than the other, and spousal support is a matter that must be determined during the divorce process. Similar to child support, these payments are budgetary items that affect each party as they enter the next stage of their life.In some cases, spousal support payments are temporary and are meant as a means to help the lower-earning spouse get on their feet after the divorce. In other scenarios, however, issues such as inability to work or disabilities may require the payments to go on indefinitely.
- Various Investigations Necessary for the DivorceIn many divorce cases, there is a period of investigation or discovery that takes place. This most commonly occurs for two reasons.
- Parenting evaluations. There are several occasions in which a court may order a parenting evaluation. One may be that one of the parents wishes to move out of state with the child. The other is related to concerns regarding substance abuse, mental health, and abuse.
- Valuing assets. Investigations may be needed during a divorce to place a value on assets the couple must divide. This is especially true when the couple has accumulated significant wealth, has developed a complex investment portfolio, or owns a business.
Even When You and Your Spouse Agree, an Attorney Can Help
Even the most clear-cut divorce cases can be emotionally taxing on the parties involved, and ironing out the details of the agreement adds to their anxiety. The experienced team at the Law Office of Stephanie J. Squires can ensure all of the details are properly carried out and help our clients to complete the divorce process as quickly as possible. Visit our website today to find out more.