To file for divorce in California you must have been a legal resident of the State for at least six months immediately prior to filing. If you have not yet established this residency you can file for a Legal Separation in California if no case is pending in another state. A legal separation can be converted to a dissolution of marriage at a later date. If one party believes that there has been an irremediable breakdown of the marriage they can petition to have the marriage dissolved. No “fault” or other allegations are necessary.
As part of a dissolution or Legal Separation it may be necessary to immediately address many issues. Temporary orders can be issued after a court hearing or by stipulation of the parties. Temporary orders can include orders for custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, attorney fees, temporary use and possession of property and vehicles and orders regarding assets and property. These temporary orders can be very important for establishing a status quo upon which future orders and the final Judgment may be based. An experienced family law attorney can help ensure that temporary orders entered in your case start your case moving forward in the right direction. If the matters are contested, recent changes to the law mandate that a hearing including live testimony take place, where each party presents evidence and cross examines the other party and their witnesses.
Discovery of information and evidence:
The parties owe each other a fiduciary duty to disclose information and are required to provide each other with documentation disclosing of financial information. Each party may also conduct discovery including the taking of Depositions. After the disclosure and Discovery process is completed the parties can reach a settlement agreement or the case can go to trial.
Trial and Judgment:
A divorce is concluded by a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage which is based upon an agreement between the parties or rulings made by the Judge after a trial. Even if the parties reach a quick settlement, there is a minimum six month period from the time the petition is served before the dissolution of marriage becomes final.