When your spouse files for divorce

Divorce is a very difficult thing to have to deal with for everyone involved, but it can be even worse when the spouses begin to argue and fight about every little detail. That is one of the reasons why it is preferable to come to an agreement and proceed with an uncontested divorce. 

If your spouse is the one who has filed for divorce, then you will have to decide whether to respond to the divorce petition or not. This choice comes with several consequences so you have to consider it very carefully. If you choose to contest the divorce, it can be a lengthy and expensive process that will also take its toll on you emotionally and otherwise. If you fail to respond or you do so but come to an agreement later on, your case will be seen as a “default” or uncontested case. This means that you are giving up any rights to contest the outcome of your divorce. 

Read the divorce papers extremely carefully so that you fully understand what your spouse is asking for because, in a default or uncontested case, the court will most likely grant what your spouse is asking for without going into the matter any further. However, the fact is that most people do not want to give up their right to contest what their spouse is asking for so easily since it has a great deal to do with their future. 

Most people do desire to want to be a part of decisions that will be made about their future. An Orange County family law attorney can help. Even if you decide not to respond, and reach an agreement with your partner or spouse which is notarized and in writing, you are still required to participate and be involved in decisions that are made about your divorce case or legal separation. Arguably, the best way to go about a divorce is to work out a mutually beneficial agreement before things can even begin to get out of hand. Some of the things that you and your spouse will have to come to terms with include:

·         Assets and debt

The attorneys involved will have to determine what part of your combined assets fall into a category called “marital assets” and how to divide them. This includes most assets that were acquired during the marriage. Certain assets might be excluded from this category if they were inherited or were a gift, but every divorce is unique so the specifics of your particular case have to be fully considered. Debt is something else that has to be divided between both spouses. 

·         Spousal support 

You have to come to an agreement about whether or not any of the two parties should pay any spousal support and how much that should amount to. There are various factors that should be considered here, including living expenses and how much income both spouses earn from any job, or investments that they might have.

When you file for divorce

If you have chosen to file for divorce, then it would be greatly beneficial to you if you could come to an agreement with your spouse about the important issues mentioned above and have an uncontested divorce in order to avoid expenses and unnecessary headaches. However, there are requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for an uncontested divorce in the state of California.

Requirements for a Summary Dissolution in California

In the state of California, an uncontested divorce is referred to as a “summary dissolution.” Clearly, this is a divorce option that is much more preferable to traditional divorce proceedings, so it is the one that you will probably want to pursue. However, summary dissolution is a divorce option that a married couple has to qualify for since it is not granted to everyone. Here are some of the requirements that must be met:

  •         One of the two spouses has to have been a resident of the state for at least a six month period and must have residency in the county where the divorce is to be filed for a period of at least three months.
  •         The reason that divorce has been chosen as the final option has to be “irreconcilable differences.”
  •         There cannot be any minor children in the marriage for a summary dissolution to be granted. This would simply complicate matters due to certain considerations such as custody, visitation rights, and child support. Also, neither of the two spouses can be pregnant due to the very same reasons. 
  •         A period of less than five years must have elapsed between the marriage date and the separation date. 
  •         Besides debts that have to do with vehicles, there are no debts that exceed the amount of $6,000.
  •         Other than vehicles, the total marital assets must not exceed the amount of $43,000.
  •         The couple has come to agreeable terms and a settlement agreement has been signed which outlines how the assets and debts are to be divided. All the documents that are required in order to transfer assets and debts must have already been signed as well. 
  •         Both parties must have read the “summary dissolution information booklet” in order to ensure that they fully understand what is going on.

Filing a Summary Dissolution in California

Even though you can go ahead and file for your own summary dissolution, it is definitely wise to seek advice from a family law lawyer to ensure that you meet all the requirements that the law expects of you before proceeding. Once you are sure that you do meet the requirements, prepare all the necessary divorce papers and file a joint petition with your spouse at the county court clerk’s office for a summary dissolution. This joint petition has to include the following:

  •         A clear statement that indicates that every condition in the summary dissolution has been met. 
  •         If one of the spouses changed his or her name as a result of the marriage and want to go back to the former name, it must be clearly stated here along with the former name in question. 
  •         Each spouse’s current mailing address. 
  •         Documents that outline all expenses, income and property values including a declaration of disclosure, tax returns that correspond to the two previous years, and any investment information.

You will also have to include two self-addressed, stamped envelopes for you and your spouse as well as the appropriate fees when you turn your summary dissolution petition in at the county court clerk’s office. Now, you will simply have to wait. There will not be any court hearing. If the court decides that you have met all the state’s requirements, you will get a judgment of dissolution which will show your divorce date being six months after which you filed for summary dissolution.