The divorce process begins when you or your spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Superior Court in San Diego County (or wherever the appropriate jurisdiction is). You can do this yourself, or we can do this for you.
Once it is filed with the court, the spouse who is served with the divorce/dissolution petition is called the "respondent" or "defendant" in the divorce/dissolution process. He or she must respond to ("answer") the petition within 30 days.
Assuming your spouse responds, the two of you will exchange information about assets, debts, property and other relevant items. If you both can agree on how to divide up your assets and debts, along with child custody and support, you won’t need a trial. But if you two can’t agree, you will need to have a court hearing.
If your spouse doesn’t respond, the case will proceed anyway. The petitioner, or the one asking for the divorce, requests orders from the court regarding the division of property and attorney’s fees and, when appropriate, alimony, custody, visitation and child support. In this situation, the divorce will become final six months and one day after the respondent is served.)
Mediation is a less expensive and faster alternative to a litigated, contested divorce. If both parties are willing to work together to arrive at a settlement, mediation is the recommended route. Legal counsel (one attorney) will help both parties understand the often complicated legal jargon, and ensure the divorce process goes as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Temporary hearings are designed to resolve issues that may come up while the divorce is pending. These situations include:
Similar to mediation, the Judicial Hosted Settlement Conference, is designed to help both parties come to a mutual agreement without needing to proceed to litigation (court). This is especially helpful for cases that have reached an impasse where both parties are unable to come to an agreement, and a judge can provide helpful guidance on the legal proceedings that would follow if an agreement cannot be made. If both parties are unable to come to an agreement, the case typically proceeds to a trial.
If your case goes to trial, your attorney and your soon-to-be ex’s attorney will present evidence and make arguments before the judge. Then, the judge will rule on any unresolved issues. If it's necessary to go to court, we will want to be as prepared as we can be, so we can get you the best result possible.