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What Are the Five Stages of Divorce in California?

Sometimes the best decision for a family unit is divorce. It can be a trying and challenging time for everyone involved, but ultimately, it may be the healthiest option. However, the process for a divorce does not happen overnight. There are a ton of details to iron out, especially if the separating couple has children to consider. To manage these complexities, it is often recommended that each party has its own legal representation.

At All American Law, our divorce lawyers in Cucamonga, CA have experience handling divorce cases of all types. From relatively simple cases that can be resolved outside of court to more contentious divorces that require litigation, we will work tirelessly on your behalf to get you the best possible outcome. We understand a divorce is tough, and our goal is to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Consider us your divorce resource center — if you have any questions or concerns, we are here to help.

To give you a better idea of expectations of the divorce process in California, it is important to understand the five stages of divorce. These stages are:

  1. Separation. This is the first stage of divorce and usually occurs when one spouse moves out of the marital home. Separation can be voluntary or involuntary, but it typically signals the end of the marriage. To be considered separated in the eyes of the law, it is not enough for a couple to simply live in separate residences — one spouse must have the intention to end the marriage. This is often proven by filing for divorce or legal separation.
  2. Filing for divorce. Once separated, one spouse can file for divorce. In California, this can be done by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. The individual filing for divorce is classified as the petitioner, and the other spouse is known as the respondent.
  3. Service of process. Once the petition for divorce is filed, the other spouse must be served with a formal copy of the petition and a summons to appear in court. The spouse who is served with the divorce papers is known as the respondent. In some cases, the respondent may agree to sign an acknowledgment of service, which indicates that they have received the papers and agree to participate in the divorce proceedings.
  4. Temporary orders. Once the divorce process is underway, the court may issue temporary orders to help resolve issues such as child custody, spousal support, and property division. These orders are typically in place until the divorce is finalized.
  5. Final judgment. Once all the issues in the divorce have been resolved, the court will issue a final judgment, which will officially dissolve the marriage. It is at this point that the divorce is considered final, and both individuals are free to remarry.

These stages are not always linear, and some may be skipped altogether. For example, if the spouses reach a settlement agreement outside of court, they may not need to go through all five stages. Additionally, some divorces may take longer than others, depending on the complexity of the issues involved.

Stages of Divorce FAQs

Q: What is the wife entitled to in a divorce in California?

A: Generally speaking, the wife is entitled to half of the community property. However, some factors can affect this, such as prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, and the length of the marriage. It’s difficult to say definitively what one spouse might be entitled to without knowing all the details of the case. This is where a divorce lawyer can be incredibly helpful.

Q: How long does it take to get a divorce in California if both parties agree?

A: If both parties agree on all the terms of the divorce, it can be finalized relatively quickly. Once the petition for divorce is complete and officially filed, the court will issue a final judgment dissolving the marriage. This can happen in as little as six weeks, but it typically takes a few months. To expedite the process, the parties can file a joint petition for divorce, eliminating the need for one spouse to serve the other with divorce papers.

Q: Is it always 50/50 in divorce in California?

A: Property division in California is generally based on the principle of community property, which states that all assets and debts acquired throughout the duration of the marriage are to be divided equally between the spouses. However, some exceptions to this rule exist. For example, if one spouse acquired an asset prior to the marriage, it may be classified as separate property and is not up for division. Additionally, the court may deviate from an equal split if it finds that such a division would unbalance the fairness to one of the parties.

Q: What are the grounds for a divorce?

A: The grounds for a divorce in California are “irreconcilable differences,” which means that the marriage has broken down and there is no hope of reconciling. This can be due to many different factors, such as infidelity, financial problems, or simply incompatible personalities. It is not necessary to prove that one spouse is at fault to get a divorce.

Q: How much does it cost to get a divorce in California?

A: The cost of a divorce in California varies depending on the complexity of the case. If the parties can reach a settlement agreement without going to court, the cost will be much lower than if the case goes to trial. Additionally, the cost of a divorce will vary depending on whether the parties use a lawyer or mediator and whether they go through the collaborative divorce process.

Contact All American Law Today

If you are considering a divorce in California, it’s important to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer. The attorneys at All American Law have extensive experience handling divorce cases and can provide you with the guidance and support you need throughout the process. We deeply care about our clients and their families, and we will fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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