Divorce is always daunting. What might be even more daunting, however, is to try to navigate the court system on your own without the help of an attorney or the self-help center at your local county court. That being said, there are certain parts of the divorce process that you can do on your own, in this way, you can save money by only paying an attorney for work that you can’t do on your own.
California divorces follow a timeline as shown below. Let us go through the timeline so you can understand the process from start to finish. Remember, however, that each case is different, and your case may not need to go through all of the steps. At the same time, your case may be more complicated and therefore you will have to go through additional steps that you may not see in the Timeline.
Day 1: Your case will start when you file your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. In other words, you are asking the Court to dissolve your marriage. Unless you qualify for a fee waiver, you will have to pay the filing fee. The fees vary by county, so be sure to check your county court website to verify the filing fee. Once filed, your spouse must get a copy of your filed Petition by Personal Service. This means that you must have someone, other than you, who is at least 18-years-old; give a copy to your spouse in person. Service by mail or fax or phone will not work.
Day 1-Day 30: Your spouse has 30 days to file a Response and Request for Dissolution of Marriage. The reason your spouse's response is also a request for dissolution of marriage is that only one spouse is required to want the divorce in California. Therefore, since you filed a Petition, your spouse has no other choice than to request the divorce as well. Note that the time to respond does not start to run until your spouse is personally served. This means that if you file on January 1 and don’t serve him until January 29, your spouse will have until February 28 to file his/her response.
Day 1-Day 60: You have 60 days from the date you file your Petition to serve your spouse with Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure (PDDs). In your PDDs, you will disclose all financial assets and obligations to your spouse. Again, service must be done by someone other than you who is at least 18 years old. However, service can be by mail and is not required to be in person.
Day 1-Day 90: Your spouse has 60 days from the date he or she was served with your Petition to serve his or her Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure (PDDs).
Day 1- Day120: The Court will usually schedule a Status Conference four months after you file your Petition. A Status Conference is a semi-formal meeting with a judge or volunteer attorney and with your spouse. The purpose of the status conference is to let the Court know the status of your case. More Status conferences will be set throughout the case, especially if there are disputed issues and the case has not yet been finalized.
Day 181: Where there are no disputed issues, a final Judgment can be entered as early as 6 months and 1 day after you file your Petition. This is done by Uncontested Judgment, Stipulated Judgment or Marital Settlement Agreement.
Temporary Orders: At any time between Day 1 and the end of your case, you can file a Request for Order on issues of Custody, Visitation, Support, Property Control, Attorney’s Fees and a myriad of other issues.
Stipulations: At any time between Day 1 and the end of your case, you can file Stipulations (agreements in writing) as to issues that are not disputed.
Remember, this is a simplified timeline of divorce. Where children and property/assets are involved, there may be multiple hearings that do not appear on the timeline.
Contact us today at Ayar Law Offices by phone or email if you are about to start your divorce, are halfway through the process, or are only thinking of the possibility of divorce.