When it comes to getting a divorce in San Diego, it is, obviously, a significant event in your life. It is important that you are well prepared for it. If you have been considering filing for a divorce, or your partner has already filed for a divorce, here is what you need to know about the process.
Divorce Laws in California
Prior to filing for a divorce (commonly known as dissolution of marriage), you need to have been a resident in San Diego County for at least three months and a resident of the state of California for at least six months.
Under the state divorce law, you can file for divorce due to irreconcilable differences. That means, basically, “we don’t get along”. The only other grounds for divorce would be incurable insanity. The same basis applies to Legal Separation. Nullity of Marriage (annulment) has different grounds and is definitely more rare.
As it is a community property state, in California the property and debts acquired during the marriage will usually be equally divided in the divorce.
If there are children involved, there will be negotiations concerning the custody of the children, as well as child support. It is preferred in California that there be joint custody, provided that it does not negatively impact the children.
It is always the wellbeing and best interests of the children that courts base their judgements upon.
The court will also decide the extent of the child support payments by looking at both parties’ net monthly income and looking at the duration of time that the children usually spend with each parent, as well as other factors.
Meeting and Discussing with Lawyers
Any lawyer in San Diego that is experienced with divorce law can answer any questions you may have and assist you with your case. They will inform you of the various laws that concern divorce in San Diego. When you initially meet a lawyer, you should take the opportunity to ask as many questions as possible. This allows you to address any concerns you have and to determine if they are the right lawyer for you.
It is important that you have a basic idea of the financial aspects of the divorce when meeting with the lawyer. This includes tax returns, property valuations and account statements, as well as the tax effect associated with spousal support (alimony) and the sale of property.
They should be able to guide you through the entire process and explain to you each step in great detail. Make sure that you check how many clients the lawyer has worked with in the past and how long they have been in San Diego practicing divorce and divorce litigation.
Finally, enquire about their fees.
Filing for Divorce in San Diego
The process starts when you have filed for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the relevant jurisdiction.
Your spouse will have the paperwork served on them and will normally have to reply within 30 days. After this step, the process can take a few different routes.
If there is no response from your spouse, the case will continue regardless.
The earliest date that the parties can be restored to single person status is six months and a day following service of the divorce Summons and Petition.
If there is a response from the spouse, there will be talks about the division of assets and all other issues. If the two parties can reach an agreement (a compromise, normally) on everything, there is no need to go to court. If not, there will be a court hearing. You can expect that it is usually far less expensive to compromise on some issues and avoid court hearings and trial, BUT ONLY IF IT IS A FAIR COMPROMISE. It has been said that “you don’t need a lawyer to get a bad deal”. Your divorce lawyer is there to assist you in reaching a fair compromise and avoiding court but, at the same time, advising you as to when going to court actually makes more sense.
At the hearing, the two opposing attorneys present the evidence and their arguments for a judge. The judge will make a final ruling.
These are the basics. If you are prepared to go forward with your divorce in San Diego, or have questions, please feel free to call for an initial consultation.