Going through a California divorce can be intimidating, especially when you don’t know what to expect from the court. If you are like many people, you may not be comfortable or familiar with court-related processes. The good news is that you can learn more about the court’s involvement with your divorce. Here are 4 ways California courts touch your divorce case:
Filing and Responding to a California Divorce
- To initiate a California divorce, the filing party will file a Petition and a Summons with the family court clerk in their county of residence. For a California court to have jurisdiction over a divorce case, the filing party must have lived in the state for at least 6 months and in the county where the case is filed for the last 3 months.
- If there are minor children, the filing party must also file documents related to where the children have resided.
- The Summons and Petition, and all other filed documents, will be served on the other (non-filing) party.
- The Petition, or petition for dissolution, provides factual information about the filer and what they are seeking in the divorce.
- The Summons notifies the other party of the divorce and gives them 30 days to file their Response (their own divorce documents).
ATROs and Getting Emergency or Temporary Orders
- When you file for a California divorce, certain temporary orders will automatically be put in place. These orders, known as the Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (sometimes called ATROs), are included with the Summons.
- The ATROs are court orders that prohibit both parties from taking certain actions regarding their children, property, and debt during their divorce case.
- ATROs will remain in effect unless the court modifies them or the case is dismissed.
- The purpose of the ATROs is to help the parties maintain the status quo while their divorce is pending.
- If either party violates the ATROs, the other can notify the court and schedule a hearing to address the issue.
- Parties to a California divorce may also need additional temporary orders to address matters not covered by the ATROs. In some cases, a party may seek these orders under emergency circumstances.
- When a party needs emergency or non-emergency temporary orders, they can schedule a court hearing to establish the terms they believe the court needs to put in place during the divorce.
Negotiation and Resolving Disputes
- During the case, the parties will have an opportunity to negotiate the terms of their California divorce, and, in some instances, the court will order them to attend mediation. In California, mediation is mandatory when the parties dispute child custody and visitation.
- If you are ordered to attend mediation, you and your ex may decide to hire a private mediator, or your local superior court can appoint one through Family Court Service. Parties may also choose to mediate.
- When parties negotiate and reach an agreement during mediation, they will sign a mediated settlement agreement (MSA) that will be filed with the court. The MSA’s terms will become part of their final divorce documents.
- Not every California divorce case will require mediation. Often, parties work with their attorneys to negotiate the terms of their divorce.
- If you and your ex can reach a settlement, the terms you agree upon will become part of your final divorce decree, which the court will sign.
Trial and Post-judgment Issues
- There can be cases when the parties cannot agree on some or all of their California divorce terms. In that situation, you and your ex may end up having a trial in front of a California judge. After both sides present their evidence, the judge will consider the information and issue a ruling on the issues in the divorce.
- After your divorce, there may also be reasons you will have to return to court. For example, you and your ex may need to modify custody or visitation. You may also need to come back because your ex is not complying with some of your divorce terms. In these circumstances, it may be necessary for you to appear before the court and present evidence regarding these issues.
When you have a California divorce case, there will be some degree of court involvement. However, how much will depend on your circumstance and the unique facts of your case. Additionally, there may be some tasks that you can manage without appearing before the judge. By working with an experienced California divorce attorney, you can learn more about when you may or may not need to involve the court during your case.
Working with an experienced attorney at every stage of your California divorce case is essential. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce attorneys who can help you throughout your case. We can help you both inside and outside the courtroom. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.