California Divorce Process

Getting a divorce in California is not an uncommon practice, as people realize that they have fallen out of love with the individual they married. For whatever reason, divorce can be an emotional battle, especially if individuals have been married for a significant amount of time, started a family, shared property, shared bank accounts and were one with each other for so long. When it comes down to it, a divorce usually means that both individuals want to be completely legally separated from each other.

The question always arises – how long will the California divorce process take? This question has a series of variables that can prolong the finalized divorce. In many cases, a divorce can take up to a year. Listed below are several criteria that can affect a timely divorce.

  • Number of contested issues, and complexity of those issues;
  • The individuals’ ability to work together regarding the divorce process;
  • The court’s calendar;
  • The individuals’ schedules and availability;
  • The schedules of the lawyers involved.

However, the minimum total processing time for a divorce in California is 6 months and one day from the day the court acquired jurisdiction-either by service of process on the Respondent or the filing of a response to the petition. However, many cases will take longer than 6 months if the there are many contested issues and depending on the court’s calendar. That’s why it is important to discuss your divorce process with an experienced California divorce lawyer. H. William Edgar has considerable and successful experience representing individuals in divorce cases throughout Southern California. Representing clients in various courthouse in Riverside, Southwestern Riverside County (Temecula and Hemet), San Bernardino and Orange County, H. William Edgar has the successful track record to accomplish your divorce goals and make sure that your rights are protected.

Because the California divorce process takes awhile to be completed, you want to make sure that you will have a lawyer who will take every necessary legal action to ensure the fluidity of your divorce. H. William Edgar is an experienced divorce lawyer who knows the steps to finalizing a divorce. Listed below are the general steps to achieving a divorce, all of which can prolong the divorce process in California:

1. File Divorce Paperwork

  • A petitioner (the individual who files the forms with the court) fills out a Summons and Petition, a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Form, if children are involved. There are other forms that need to be completed that are county specific. However, these are the forms that are filed and are ultimately served the Respondent (responding party). Many people often ask if there is a tactical advantage if one spouse files first. The answer is that in most cases, there is no tactical advantage to filing first.

2. Serving the Forms

  • An individual who is not the filer, and is 18 years or older, serves the forms to the spouse along with a blank response. It is advisable that you hire a registered process server to accomplish this function. It’s never a good idea to have a family member, an adult child, or friend serve the summons and petition. The proof of service of the summons and petition must usually be served by personal service. However, there are alternative methods to service of process, such as substituted service, publication, service by notice and acknowledgement. It is advisable to hire a lawyer who knows the legal ramifications of service of process. When the summons and petition are served, that is called the jurisdictional date and the 6 month clock starts running.
  • Once the papers have been served, that spouse has 30 days to file and serve a response. However, many people think that the court will automatically do something after the 30 days have elapsed. That is not the case and the petitioner must actively pursue the divorce by filing a request to enter default. It does not happen automatically.

3. Disclosure of Financial Information

  • The petitioner has 60 days upon filing for divorce to fill out and serve the following documents to the spouse: Declaration of Disclosure Form, Income and Expense Declaration, Schedule of Assets and Debts. Many counties also have local rules regarding the service of the preliminary declaration of disclosure.
  • Discovery: Often most attorney will conduct some form of written discovery to ascertain the factual information and documentation to appropriately advise their clients with respect to the financial aspects of the case.

4. The Judgment: After the discovery process, one side will usually file a form with the court to set the matter for a settlement conference if they are not able to reach an amicable settlement. It is important to know the local rules and other California Rule of Court with respect to the MSC and the documents that are necessary to be filed and served. The parties will then either settle the case or set a trial date with the court.

The California divorce process can take an unnecessarily long time if the proper steps are not taken. That is why it is imperative that you contact H. William Edgar, an experienced Riverside divorce lawyer. With offices in Riverside and Temecula, H. William Edgar knows the local courts and how to properly handle the divorce process. He will ensure that your divorce is finalized in the simplest way possible, and will fight to defend your rights and help you achieve your goals. Get the results that your family deserves!

Call H. William Edgar today at (951) 684-6885 for a no-obligation free consultation to discuss the California Divorce Process. Discuss your divorce questions with an experienced divorce lawyer today.