ORANGE COUNTY DIVORCE ATTORNEYS
Divorce is an unfortunate and, sadly, common occurrence in today’s society. It can be one of the most stressful time periods in one’s life. At Brown & Dahan, we are experienced Orange County divorce lawyers dedicated to achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients while focusing on minimizing the stress our clients face when dealing with divorce. We approach the complex issues faced in each dissolution case strategically yet compassionately. We understand the weight of the life changing decisions you must face during this time and put our advocacy skills to work to ease the burden on our clients and work toward resolving your case as quickly, as cost effectively, and as favorably as possible.
FILING FOR DIVORCE IN ORANGE COUNTY
Once the reality of a divorce becomes clear to either you or your spouse, the first step after talking with a qualified divorce lawyer is filing a petition for dissolution of marriage with the Superior Court. The spouse who is filing must have been a resident of California for six months and a resident of Orange County for three months prior to the filing of the Petition. Under California law, there is a six month mandatory waiting period after the Petition is served on your spouse before you are able to return to the status of being single. This means that you cannot remarry or file taxes separately during this time and until the Courts have granted a Dissolution of Marriage. After this period has passed, you will be eligible to request that your marital status legally be changed to an unmarried person.
CALIFORNIA’S NO-FAULT DIVORCE LAWS
The initial petition for dissolution must specify reasons for the divorce, but California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that the court may grant a divorce for any reason whatsoever. There does not need to be a reason stated to the Court as to why the parties are divorcing. No party gains any advantage over the other even if, for example, one party was unfaithful during the marriage.
UNCONTESTED V. CONTESTED DIVORCE
In some cases, the parties are in agreement with all issues pertaining to their Dissolution of Marriage. This is what is considered an uncontested divorce. On the other hand, if the either party is not in agreement with such issues as child custody, spousal support, and/or division of assets, it is considered a contested matter. Typically, in any contested divorce situation, it is best to seek legal counsel in order to assist in navigating the often complex nuances that must be considered when dealing with all issues relevant to a divorce. This is where the Law Offices of Brown and Dahan can greatly assist you.
THE PROCESS OF DIVORCE
Once the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has been served on the other spouse, that spouse has thirty days to file a Response. If one is not filed and served within thirty days, the party who filed or the Petitioner may file a Request for Default whereby the Petitioner may file a Judgment based on their preferences alone as to how they wish all issues to be resolved.
If the Respondent files a Response, then the parties exchange Declarations of Disclosure which list all property they currently own as well as any debt that is in existence. These disclosures are mandated by law. Should any party fail to disclose property which they are aware of, they could be susceptible to sanctions as well as having to give the other party the full value of the asset when and if it is discovered at a later time. Any orders that may have been entered regarding the property division may be vacated as well if it is later determined that there were undisclosed assets.
If necessary, the parties will engage in a process known as Discovery. This is where demands are made on either party to produce any and all documents pertaining to any property that is subject to the divorce case.
After all discovery has been exchanged between the parties, settlement negotiations typically begin.
If a resolution is able to be reached as to all issues, a Judgment is prepared and filed with the Court. Often, the parties never have to see the inside of a courtroom during a Dissolution of Marriage.
If a resolution is unable to be reached, then the attorneys will then prepare necessary documents to request orders from the Court. Before trial, temporary orders for child custody, child visitation, child support, and spousal support are among the orders that are typically requested in order to sustain the parties and the status quo until the case can go to trial. The vehicle by which these orders are obtained is known as a Request For Order or a RFO.
As the parties are preparing for trial, the Court will set the case for a Mandatory Settlement Conference or otherwise referred to as a MSC. At this hearing all parties will report to Court with their attorneys and attempt to settle all issues before the case is set for trial. If necessary, the judicial officer will attempt to assist the parties in coming to a full resolution of all issues. A full Judgment or partial Judgment can be entered at that time. Any and all remaining issues will be set to be heard at trial.