Being a party to a divorce proceeding is no walk in the park. The emotional toll of ending a relationship is enough for it to qualify as one of life’s least desirable experiences. Actually navigating the divorce process through the court system can also take its toll, but the state does provide a framework that allows for amicable or adversarial proceedings, depending on the desires of the parties.
Naturally, a divorce case begins with a decision by one or both parties to a marriage that the union should end. At this, and any other point in the process, the parties are free to mutually agree to terms of the divorce, including allocation of property, child support and custody, and spousal support. In this best of circumstances, the parties can file the appropriate documents with the court and seek a divorce order reflecting their mutual agreements.
Whether or not mutual agreement is reached, the divorce must be initiated by the party seeking the divorce (called the petitioner) filing a petition with the appropriate court. The petitioner must also have a copy of the petition independently served on her spouse. The responding party then may file a response with the court within 30 days of having been served with the petition. Just as with the petition, the response must be independently served on the petitioner.
After the proper filing of the petition and response, the parties will exchange financial documents that show their assets, such as money and property, as well as their earnings. Assets attained during the marriage are normally considered to be marital property—that is—owned by both parties and subject to equitable distribution. Assets owned by a party prior to the marriage or attained after separation are usually considered the separate assets of that spouse.
If the parties have not reached a mutual agreement for the terms of their divorce, the court will hold a hearing to allow both sides to present their views of how the assets should be divided, whether spousal support should be paid, custody plans, and child support for minor children. The court will ultimately issue a decree officially ending the marriage and spelling out the terms of the divorce.
The process is pretty straightforward, but it can become very convoluted. Bitterness and anger often prompt excessive legal wrangling. In addition, complex financial issues, such as business and other asset valuation, can complicate the proceedings.
If you need assistance in a family law proceeding, you should consult with an experienced California lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will provide authoritative legal support tailored to your specific situation. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.