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The Divorce Process in Los Angeles

Going through a divorce can be stressful, costly and emotionally challenging, especially when marital property division and child custody and visitation rights come into play. Being aware of how the divorce process works and hiring an experienced attorney to represent your rights can make the whole process easier on you and your family. If you are considering filing for divorce in Los Angeles, or if you have been served divorce papers by your spouse, don’t wait to get help. Contact Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today at (213) 550-4600 to discuss your legal options with a knowledgeable divorce attorney.

Affordable Los Angeles Divorce Attorney

The decision to dissolve a marriage, whether you’ve been married for five years or 50, can be a difficult one, and the legal team at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles strives to make the divorce process less stressful for you and your family. Our attorneys have the experience and resources necessary to handle all types of divorce cases in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, and the compassion to help you and your spouse resolve what can end up being life-changing disputes, such as those involving marital property division, spousal support, and child custody and visitation arrangements. Whether your Los Angeles divorce case requires aggressive negotiation, third-party mediation or assertive representation at trial, our lawyers will work tirelessly to protect your legal rights and help you reach a fair and timely resolution to your divorce disputes.

Who Can File for Divorce in California?

California is a no-fault divorce state, which means neither spouse has to accuse the other of misconduct in order to file for divorce. Simply put, if the marriage has broken down for any reason, either spouse can file for divorce based on “irreconcilable differences,” even if the other spouse wants to remain married. However, while any individual in California can decide to end their marriage for any reason, there are certain residency requirements associated with the actual process of filing for divorce in California. For example, at least one of the spouses must have been a resident of California for at least six months before filing the divorce petition, and the individual filing the petition must have been a resident of the county in which the petition was filed for at least three months. Once the divorce petition is filed and your spouse has been served the papers, you will have to wait at least six months before the divorce is finalized.

What is the Process for Getting Divorced in California?

If you and your spouse have been married for less than five years and you don’t own real estate, have no children, and have limited assets and debts, you may qualify for a summary dissolution, which typically means you don’t have to appear before a judge. This is a much simpler process that involves you and your spouse coming to an agreement about how your property and debts will be divided and filing the agreement with the court, along with a joint divorce petition and any other necessary paperwork. If a summary dissolution doesn’t apply to your situation, the typical process for getting divorce in California looks like this:

  • One spouse files for divorce and serves the other spouse (the respondent) with papers.
  • The respondent has 30 days to file a response to the divorce petition.
  • One of the spouses may file for an Order to Show Cause hearing, during which the judge will issue temporary child custody, child support and restraining orders.
  • The spouses exchange information and documents that are relevant to the divorce proceedings (discovery), including the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure, a form that details the spouses’ community and separate property.
  • The spouses and their attorneys discuss a settlement agreement. If a settlement is reached, a Marital Settlement Agreement contract will be drawn up and signed. If the spouses are unable to reach an agreement on all issues, the case will go to trial.
  • Once the Marital Settlement Agreement has been signed or after the trial has concluded, a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage document containing all of the court’s orders will be prepared, signed and entered into the court record. At this point, the spouses are legally divorced and free to remarry.

What to Consider When Filing for Divorce in CA

Research shows that close to 50% of all marriages end in divorce. However, filing for divorce rarely involves two people simply agreeing to go their separate ways without any division of property or debts, or any child support or spousal support disputes to consider. Whether a divorce is uncontested or contested – meaning the spouses disagree on one or more key issues – it’s rarely that easy. Because divorces typically end up being more complicated than one might think, there are certain steps you should take at the beginning of the divorce process to protect your rights, your children and your finances, the most important being enlisting the help of an experienced Los Angeles divorce lawyer.

If you are considering filing for divorce in California, or if you have been served papers by your spouse, there are a number of factors that will come into play during the course of the divorce proceedings. It is important to understand, for instance, how your shared and separate property and debts will be divided between yourself and your spouse, who will get custody of your children, and who will pay child and/or spousal support, and how much. California is one of only a handful of states that implement community property laws, which means the assets and debts spouses acquire during the course of a marriage belong equally to both of them and must be divided equally in divorce.

How an Experienced Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer Can Help

Filing for divorce can be a complicated process, especially if you and your spouse have children together or a significant amount of property or debt, and this process is often accompanied by a great deal of stress, fear, uncertainty and anger. Having a knowledgeable divorce attorney on your side can eliminate these feelings of fear and uncertainty and improve your chances of a favorable outcome in your case. In some situations, couples filing for divorce in California can work together to reach an amicable decision about the terms of their divorce, or can seek help working out their disagreements from a mediator, and avoid going to court altogether. However, even in these situations, it’s often a good idea to speak to a lawyer before you begin the divorce process, to make sure you know what to do and when, especially if your case ends up going to trial.

It’s important to note that if you have been the victim of domestic violence, you should avoid attempting to work out an agreement with your spouse on your own. Under these circumstances in particular, consulting a divorce attorney about your legal rights is your best course of action.

Free Divorce Consultation in Los Angeles

For many people, the process of getting a divorce can be complicated and confusing and the emotional and financial consequences of a divorce can be life-changing, which is why it’s so important to have a family law expert on your side throughout this process. Some spouses filing for divorce in California may feel confident enough in their legal knowledge to consider representing themselves during their divorce proceedings. However, hiring an experienced lawyer to represent your legal rights is a good idea in California divorce cases, especially if there is considerable property and assets, spousal support or child custody rights at stake. For more information about the divorce process in California, or to discuss your legal options with a knowledgeable divorce attorney, contact Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today at (213) 550-4600.

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