The California Divorce Process can be a very complicated and challenging experience – both emotionally and financially. We believe that the best way to deal with these challenges is to take control. Part of this process involves empowering you with knowledge and understanding of the Divorce process.  This complicated legal system causes most people to feel confused. At JB Dath Law, we explain the laws and the process (see below) for you to understand what is ahead. This allows you to be in a position to fully grasp the advice we give you and to make informed decisions about your case

The Divorce Process in California: 

  • To begin a divorce in the state of California, one spouse must file a Petition . The person who files the Petition is the “Petitioner.” The Divorce Petition must then be served.
  • After the spouse is served, that person has 30 days to file a Response. This document tells the court that the Respondent wishes to participate in the divorce proceedings. The person who must file the Response is called the “Respondent.”
  • If the Respondent fails to file a Response within 30 days after being served with divorce paperwork, the case proceeds without the Respondent’s participation. The Petitioner prepares a judgment and submits it to the court. The Petitioner requests orders concerning custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, attorney fees, and division of property. Six months and one day after the Respondent is served, the divorce becomes final (this is called a “waiting period”). 
  • If the Respondent files a Response, the parties exchange documents and other information about their property and incomes. This is called “Discovery.” Discovery can be in the form of questions asked in person (by deposition) or through written questions.
  • If one or both of the parties need the court to make orders before trial. Either spouse may do so by filing an Order to Show Cause. Normally, the request will be for child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support, attorney fees, or for a domestic violence restraining order. Each party appears in court and explains his/her position. The court then makes orders based upon the evidence.
  • After discovery is complete, one party will set the case for trial. Normally, the court will schedule a Mandatory Settlement Conference before trial. This is a date in the courtroom when both sides are ordered to appear with their attorneys and attempt to settle as many issues before the trial as they can. If they are able to settle the entire case, a Marital Settlement Agreement is drafted, and a judgment is drafted. Again, six months and one day after the Respondent was served, the divorce becomes final.
  • At trial, each attorney presents evidence and arguments. The judge makes orders on all unresolved issues. The judgment is prepared and approved by the divorce attorneys and then submitted to the court. Once the judge signs the judgment and the six month waiting period has elapsed, the divorce becomes final.
  • Even after the court signs the judgment, some orders can be modified. These include child support, custody, visitation, and usually spousal support. However, other orders can almost never be changed after the judgment is entered, these include orders dividing property, and orders awarding attorney fees.
Mr. Dath graduated from the top-ranked law school in the Sacramento area. He also holds an MBA from UC Davis Graduate School of Business Management, which gives him advantages over most of Lawyers with respect to financial and business issues. He combines his superior education with extensive legal experience since he first started practice in 1996. Call today to schedule a consultation.