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What Steps Should I Take Before Filing For Divorce?


In order to proceed with a divorce in California, you will need your property records, pension or investment records, the last two years of federal and state taxes, and monthly income information for the past year.

Are There Any Advantages Or Disadvantages To Being The First To File For Divorce?

There is no tactical advantage to filing for divorce first. It only determines who the petitioner is and who the respondent is. There is some importance in the filing of the petition and response documents because those help establish when the parties actually separated. This helps determine when community income becomes separate income, which can be an important point.

What Options Do People Have When Proceeding With A Divorce In California?

There are several options for divorcing in California. People can do it themselves, but that requires a high level of cooperation. There is the opposite scenario, where everything is litigated in court. In the middle, there are consultative and collaborative models, where the parties get together to negotiate, with or without attorneys. Sometimes, there is only one attorney involved, to help with the paperwork. I always advocate an open negotiated approach because it always results in significant cost savings to both parties. This is difficult when parties’ personal feelings and egos get involved but I try to help the parties see how negotiation helps them.

How Does The Typical Divorce Process Work In California?

The initial filing comes first and then the other party has to be served. There are several ways to serve a person. You can send a process server out, although this can seem very confrontational. I send out letters with the papers and I ask the other party to sign a receipt, instead of having a process server hand them the papers. I also give them something called an open response period, which means I stop the 30-day deadline that they have to respond. It gives us plenty of time to work on the issues and hopefully start an amicable negotiated divorce.

Then, it is time for discovery. That is where the parties share their records and we learn what the incomes of the parties are, what the debts are the assets and the various interests of the parties. Negotiation and judgment is the final portion of it.

After everything is on the table, we determine who gets what. Negotiation is so much better for all issues and for all parties. There is a six-month minimum time period before a judgment is final and it begins when the second party is served.

Which Party Generally Has To Pay Alimony Or Spousal Support In A Divorce Case In California?

Spousal support has to be ordered and is not automatic. If it is ordered by the court, it is generally paid by the higher wage earner.

How Is The Amount Of Alimony Or Spousal Support Calculated In California?

The court uses an exclusively approved software program to calculate both spousal support and child support. This integrates many factors, including the incomes of the parties, plus various costs and deductions that are allowed. It’s a very complicated program and there are generally some negotiated concerns over the factors considered.

When Does Alimony Or Spousal Support Begin? Can I Get Spousal Support During Separation?

If there is not a formal agreement between the parties, there must be a court hearing to ask the judge to order spousal support. The judge will consider it and decide whether and how much to order it.

How Long Do I Have To Pay Receive Alimony Or Spousal Support In California?

Generally, how long you will pay or receive spousal support will depend on whether it was a short or long term marriage. By definition, a long term marriage is one that lasts 10 years or longer. Typically, for shorter-term marriages, spousal support will be ordered for half the length of the marriage. For a long term, marriage support is open-ended; however, it is subject to modification and the receiving party has an ongoing duty to become self-sufficient.

For more information on Filing For Divorce In California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (626) 385-6303 today.

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