Deciding that your marriage is over may have been difficult, and that is not unusual. Not only are you likely dealing with conflicting emotions, but you may be feeling some anxiety over the uncertainty ahead. After all, the divorce process is often unfamiliar territory, and not knowing what to expect can raise one’s stress level even more.
Having a general understanding of the steps you will take to complete your divorce may allow you to feel more prepared so you can focus on your future. You should always feel free to ask your attorney for guidance if you have questions along the way, but the following may give you at least a general ideal of how the process works in the state of California.
Steps in the process
Every marriage is different, and every divorce has its unique elements. This may include unusual or exceptionally valuable assets, special child custody considerations, or other matters that may require additional time or steps to resolve. In general, however, the steps of a divorce may include the following:
- Completing the appropriate forms and filing for divorce in California if at least one of you has lived in this state for six months and in the county where you are filing for three months
- Completing a summons, which notifies your partner of your intention to divorce and forbids either of you from making changes such as moving away with the children or selling assets
- Filing a temporary court order, if necessary, to request financial support or protection from your spouse
- Serving your spouse with notice of the divorce either through certified mail or personal service
- Waiting the required six months before finalizing your divorce
- Allowing your spouse 30 days to respond or default, meaning you may proceed without his or her involvement
- Providing all requested information during the disclosure period, including documentation of assets, debts, income and other financial details
- Negotiating terms if your spouse does not contest the divorce, including asset division, child custody and support matters, which you will then present to the court
- Attempting mediation to resolve contested divorce issues, or waiting for a trial date during which the judge will rule on those issues
Even if your spouse does not contest, it could prove invaluable to have the advocacy of an attorney to ensure the protection of your rights and that you obtain a full and fair division of marital property. This can significantly increase your odds of moving forward into a more positive future.