For years you were married. You thought that your spouse is the perfect match. Yet, you started having second thoughts about it sometime after you were married. You did not let the doubts ruin your marriage. However, now you are sure that your spouse is not the person who you thought. You want to file for divorce. What do you do? This article will help you understand the process and your legal rights and obligations.
Dissolution of Marriage
“Dissolution of marriage” basically means divorce. So in legal terms, you need to file for dissolution of marriage. Most states, including California, require the party asking for the divorce to have resided in the state for at least six (6) months. If this is not an issue, then you are on your way to getting a divorce.
If you reside with your spouse but you are separated i.e., at least one of you does not want to remain married, then depending on whether you have a valid domestic violence claim, you can ask to have the other spouse move out. This is called a move-out order. You need to file for restraining order and state the facts that shows you are a victim of domestic violence. Some people use domestic violence as a tool to get the other spouse out of the house even when there is no such violence. Not only this would be illegal, it would likely backfire once the judge realizes that the domestic violence claim is frivolous.
Filing Divorce Papers
To start the process you need to complete and file the dissolution of marriage forms. In California, these forms are called judicial council forms. You can either use the self-help center at the court or hire a lawyer to assist you. If you decide to do it yourself you need to make sure you properly complete the forms. Once you do so, you have to go to the family law court house to file it with the clerk. It is important that you serve your spouse properly. Remember, you cannot be the person who serves the spouse. You can ask someone to go personally deliver the paperwork to your spouse, hire a company to do it or hire the sheriff department to do it. Even when you are serving by mail, you cannot be the person who places the paperwork in the mailbox. Once service is done you need to file a proof of service form with the court.
After Filing Divorce Papers
Your spouse will have thirty (30) days to respond. If you and your spouse share a minor child both parents will be prohibited from taking the child outside of the state without the other parents permission. Additionally, both spouses will be prohibited from making major purchases or conduct major financial activities. This is because law wants an accurate division of money and property.
If there is a minor child involved, then there will be a hearing scheduled where the judge temporarily gives orders either until trial or until the parties agree to something on their own. If a custody of a minor is at dispute, then there will be a court mandated mediation. This is an informal meeting with a third-party mediator. The mediator will attempt to explore whether the spouses can agree to custody. If there is no agreement in mediation, then the judge will make a temporary custody order at the scheduled hearing. If there is an agreement in mediation, then parties must still go to the hearing but can just inform the judge of their agreement.
During the scheduled hearing a party can also ask the judge to order a temporary child support. The judge will order an amount based on the legal guidelines. There may be some deviation from the guideline. The judge has discretion in this regard. Once temporary child support is ordered, then depending on whether the marriage was long term or short-term there may be an issue of spousal support.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
Spousal support becomes an issue when there parties have been married for a long time or when one spouse has sacrificed for the benefit of the other by staying home and raising the children. In long-term marriages, the case for spousal support is stronger. Long terms usually means ten (10) or more years. However, juts because the marriage is under ten (10) years, it does not mean spousal support cannot be ordered.
Filing a divorce can become complicated. It may be beneficial to hire a lawyer. Once the divorce papers are filed then there could be many turns and twists. So, just reading this short article will not allow you to navigate those legal turns and twists. So it is recommended that you talk to a lawyer.
Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT A LEGAL ADVISE.