Santa Cruz Family Law Attorney

What Happens During a Divorce?

Married couples have three alternatives when they wish to terminate their marriage. Dissolution (Divorce), nullity and legal separation are all available and each offers different benefits. This document is meant only to give a brief overview of the divorce process and is not intended as a guide for those handling their own divorce.

  1. FILE A PETITION: One spouse files a petition for divorce with the court. There is a filing fee of approx. $300. In addition a UCCJEA form must be filed if the marriage involves children. Then those documents must then be served to the other party. Once this has been done the 6 month and 1 day waiting period begins and it sets in place numerous restraining orders on both parties.
  2. FILE A RESPONSE: The other spouse files a response to the petition. This also involves a filing fee of approx. $300.00.
  3. DISCOVERY PHASE: Both parties exchange documents including property and income statements. Depending on need discovery may include depositions and other fact finding instruments.
  4. TEMPORARY ORDERS: Temporary orders regarding child custody, child support and spousal support should be in place during the divorce proceedings. The parties may either reach a private agreement or ask the court to make temporary orders regarding each issue.
  5. PREPARE FOR TRIAL: One party will set a date for trial. This will also include a mandatory Settlement Conference for the parties to negotiate as many of the terms as possible. If all the terms can be agreed upon a Marital Settlement Agreement can be drafted and the divorce will be finalized after the waiting period.
  6. TRIAL: At trial attorneys will present evidence and arguments. The judge will make orders regarding all unresolved issues. The judgment will be prepared and approved and divorce will be finalized after the waiting period has passed.
  7. SUBSEQUENT MODIFICATIONS: In real life things change and one party may file for a modification.

Very few divorces will go through to trial. Private agreements will generally resolve all the issues before a trial is necessary. However some divorces involving complex issues may go through to trial and this is a general outline of the process. Also some issues like child custody involve mandatory mediation to help avoid trial.

This article is meant only to provide information and is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions concerning your particular case you should make an appointment to talk to an attorney or mediator about your options. I would love to hear what other family law issues you find important.

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant only to provide information and is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions concerning your particular case you should make an appointment to talk to an attorney or mediator about your options. I would love to hear what other estate planning or familily law issues you find important.

by Keith Dysart, Santa Cruz Family Law Attorney and Mediator


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