The steps to getting a divorce in California vary depending on the duration of the marriage, if minor children are involved, whether substantial marital assets are involved and if the divorce is amicable. Obviously, if you and your now estranged partner are in agreement on the material issues to be resolved, then the quicker and less expensive your dissolution will be.
If you do want a quick divorce and you have not been married for very long, then a summary dissolution might be an option. To qualify, you need to meet all of the following criteria:
- A marriage of less than 5 years to the date of separation
- You have no minor children, by birth or adoption, and none are expected to be born of this marriage
- You own no real property
- Do not have a one-year lease to rent or an option to purchase real property
- Your debts are not more than $6,000
- You possess less than $40,000 in marital property, not including vehicles
- You own less than $40,000 in separate property, not including vehicles
- Both of you agree that no spousal maintenance will be paid
- You both sign a joint agreement dividing your property and debts
If you meet these requirements and have lived in California for the past 6 months, then you can file for summary dissolution.
Uncontested or Divorce by Default
Should you not meet the criteria for a summary dissolution, you can still obtain a quick divorce if you and your partner are in agreement on the issues regarding child custody, support and the division of property and debt obligations.
In this case, only one party, or the petitioner, needs to file for dissolution. Even before one of you files, you could meet with a mediator to work out any disputes or disagreements you may have so that you will have a fully drafted marital settlement agreement on hand when one of you does file.
If the petitioner does file, the other party has the option of responding or allowing it to go to default. If you wish to answer, you must do so within 30 days of personal service. If you are proceeding by default, file a Request to Enter Default after the 30 day period along with Proof of Service. However, the petitioner must still file these disclosures with the court:
- Income and Expense Declaration
- Property Declaration, or
- Schedule of Assets and Debts
You should consider filing these along with your petition for dissolution so that you need not do so after the default and save yourself time.
- Other documents to be filed with the Request to Enter Default include:
- Declaration in Support of Request to Enter Default
- Proposed Notice of Entry of Judgment
- Forms requesting and evidencing need for child support, spousal maintenance and property
There are a number of forms for you to complete and submit if you are requesting custody and support that include visitation orders and for division of your community property.
The earliest you can obtain a divorce in California is 6 months from the date your petition was filed.
The least desirable scenario is the contested divorce since it can take a toll on your emotions, time and bank account. Further, do you really want the court to make the determination regarding the material issues affecting your property, payment of support, custody, visitation and division of debts that may not be to your liking?
If your divorce is contested, then the attorneys will engage in discovery, which means taking your deposition and having you secure and hand over various documents that may go into great detail about your financial and, sometimes, your private affairs. At a deposition, you are under oath to give truthful and non-evasive answers about your affairs that could be very embarrassing. If you are not truthful on material matters, it could adversely affect your ability to gain custody of your children or result in payment of spousal maintenance or loss of assets.
At least 45 days before your assigned trial date, you will have to file and serve your final declarations of disclosure, though these can be waived. These forms include your Schedule of Assets and Debts and Income and Expense Declaration that should have been filed previously but which may have changed. You will also have to make a separate declaration explaining how you arrived at the estimated value of your community property, along with a list of your debt obligations for both parties and any investments made since you separated.
Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum
If you are considering a divorce or have been served with a marriage dissolution petition, immediately seek the services of a divorce attorney. At the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum, we have been zealously representing the rights of our divorce clients for over 10 years. Call our offices to today to schedule an appointment to discuss your legal options.