With how complex the law is, it can be difficult to figure out exactly how anything works when dealing with courts or filing orders. This is especially true for the divorce process. It may seem like a simple matter of filing a court order and appearing at court one time, but it involves much more than that.
The simplest way to explain how it works is by going through the following 8 steps. These steps, however, will assume the divorce is uncontested so it can be finalized with an agreement outside of court and assumes there are no children involved. The exception would come up if you and your spouse can come up with a schedule to share custody over the children on your own or with a private mediator.
Step 1: File a petition
Filing a petition with the court is the way to begin your divorce process. You’ll have to pay a $435 filing fee in order to have your petition filed. If you need to hire an attorney as well, you will be paying a fee separate from this filing fee.
Step 2: Serve the petition on your spouse
After the petition has been filed, it will be served on your spouse while a proof of service is filed with the court. For Californian courts, there is a minimum wait time of six months before a divorce can be finalized. The beginning of this six-month period begins once your spouse has been served.
The petition is typically served by a process server who will personally hand the documents to your spouse. If your spouse is cooperating, the paperwork can actually be sent along with a document they sign that says that your souse did receive the papers.
Step 3: Exchanging all financial disclosures
During your divorcing process, the two of you will exchange financial discloses. To be brief, this process will include two forms. One will list your separate incomes and expenses while the other will list any property, assets, and debts you have. This includes both community property (it was obtained during the marriage) and separate property (it was obtained before the marriage).
This is typically the longest step in the process because it can take a long time for you to find all the necessary financial documents and have the forms filed afterwards.
Step 4: Filling out a form with a court about the exchanges
Each of you will need to provide a proof of service that says you sent the disclosures to your spouse while your spouse signs one that says they sent their disclosures to you. This process must be done must be done before any agreement can be finalized or signed. If you do work with an attorney throughout this process, the they can typically file the proof of service for you. In rare cases, you may be able to continue with the process without receiving any disclosures from your spouse.
Step 5: Negotiate an agreement
The next step is having an agreement discussed and then doing a negation. The agreement will typically be written up by an attorney. These agreements will typically list out how the property will be divided and the amount of spousal support, if any, that will be paid.
Step 6: Have the agreement signed
Once the agreement has been made, both you and your spouse will need to sign it. The agreement may need to be signed in front of a notary. This is almost always the case if at least one of you is not represented by an attorney.
There are also going to be a few more forms with the agreement both of you will need to sign. These will all be submitted to the court with the final processing paperwork.
Step 7: Submit the judgement paperwork to the court
Usually an attorney will submit the paperwork with the court. The court will sometimes send a notice about the default proceedings to your spouse if the case is proceeding by default. After this, the court will wait 30 days after the notice has been sent out to process the default proceedings.
Step 8: The court processes the paperwork
After the paperwork has been submitted and processed, the judgement paperwork will go into a stack meant for processing judgements. Depending on the backlog for the court you are filing with, it could take anymore from one to three months, sometimes longer.
If all of your paperwork has been approved by now, the judgement paperwork will be fully processed and be judged. The finalized judgement paperwork will typically be mailed to your attorney’s office. The attorney will then mail a scan of this confirmation to both of you to show that the final judgement has been made on the proceedings and everything is completed.
Contact us today at 310.956.4600 for a FREE 30 min consultation.
Law Firm of Majd and Associates,
Beverly Hills Divorce Attorneys