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We explain the general procedure for divorce and let you know what you can expect.
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Understanding the Divorce Process

Divorce is not second nature to most people. Not only is it painful to split a marriage and a family, it can be legally confusing. Most people view divorce as simply getting up and walking away, but that could not be further from the truth. If you are considering filing for a divorce (or have already been served), then we understand that you likely have a lot of questions that you are asking yourself. To help with this, we at Cutter & Lax have prepared a basic overview of the steps that you will experience in a California divorce:

  1. The first step to any divorce process is deciding which path you are going to take. Contrary to popular belief, divorce is not a one-stop shop for all splitting couples. In fact, you can choose to divorce, legally separate, or even seek an annulment. Other questions that will need to be asked and answered include: Do I qualify for summary dissolution? Where should I file? How much will it cost?

  2. After these have been answered, the petitioner is encouraged to work with their spouse to determine whether or not they will be able to reach an amiable resolution to their case. This is commonly known as collaborative divorce and often times can save the divorcing couple not only the headache of litigation, but also the time and money. In some cases, mediation may also be used.

  3. All forms will then need to be properly filled out. Your Ventura County divorce attorney can ensure that you receive all of the necessary paperwork and that it is completed correctly.

  4. After you and your family lawyer have completed all of the necessary paperwork, it will need to be filed with the proper courthouse. This is completed by visiting the correct courthouse and delivering them to the court clerk, who will file them away and stamp the photocopies as "Filed." According to the Judicial Branch of California, the filing fee for the "petition or other first paper (including a joint petition) for dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership, legal separation, or nullity" is $435. If you cannot afford this, you may be able to apply for a fee waiver.

  5. After these have been filed, the respondent will be hand delivered copies of the court forms by someone who is A) over 18 years of age and B) not directly involved in the case. This is a crucial part of the case and is referred to as "service of process." After the respondent has been served, the person who served them is required to fill out a form known as the "proof of service" to verify the respondent received everything. This must be filed with the court clerk by the petitioner.

  6. The respondent is then given the same choices that the petitioner dealt with in step one - essentially determining how they would like to deal with the divorce they are facing. They can either file a response with the court - if they don't, the court can move forward in making a decision.

  7. Within 30 days of being served, the respondent needs to file a response with the court clerk. The filing fee for this response is $435. Again, the respondent may apply for a fee waiver.

  8. Again, a person over 18 who is not involved in the case will be used to deliver these response papers to the original petitioner. A "proof of service" must be filled out by the person who served the court form copies and then the respondent is required to file them with the court clerk.

  9. The next step is known as "preliminary declaration of disclosure." This allows for both parties to exchange all pertinent documents to show both what the own and what they owe. This is essential when coming begin to address issues such as property, asset and debt division.

  10. The steps that follow this will depend greatly on the couple themselves. If they are able to work out all of the related options, the marital status will legally end at least six months after the case was originally filed by the petitioner. If, however, the divorce is contested, it is likely that it will become litigated and you will need to go before a judge to seek a resolution.

Hiring a Knowledgeable Ventura County Divorce Lawyer

As you can see, the divorce process can be extremely complicated. Should you have children, be of high net worth or disagree on different topics, it can become even more complex. It is therefore encouraged that you get the involvement of a divorce lawyer in Ventura County who can help you walk through the process. By contacting Cutter & Lax, you can rest assured knowing that you will have someone on your side who is not only available to help ensure that the initial steps are completed correctly, but who can help fight for you.

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