Understanding the Process of Divorce

Reliable and Compassionate Attorney for Divorce in Orange County

At The Hunter Law Group, we understand divorce can be an extremely difficult process financially, emotionally and physically. You may find that your goals and desires are greatly opposed by your spouse and that you are struggling to obtain the end result you need. It is vitally important for you to understand the basics of the divorce process from beginning to end in order to achieve a positive outcome. In addition, by employing the skills of a knowledgeable lawyer, you can greatly maximize the potential for a solid case that will work to your benefit.

The Court Process

When seeking a legal separation or divorce, there are certain steps that must be completed, paperwork that must be filed and issues that need to be resolved between the parting spouses or couple. The following is a simplified list of the court process for the state of California:

  1. The petitioner, or individual who started the court case, has to determine what their end goal is. They have to determine how to put an end to their marriage or domestic partnership, either by annulment, legal separation or divorce. From there they have to answer questions relating to where they can file, what county they must file in, how much the process will cost and if they can afford to pay for it. In addition they need to look at the paperwork that is necessary for the court they are filing in, make sure they have the proper documentation and enough copies of each form, and any other special circumstances.

  2. If possible, the petitioner should speak with the other spouse or partner to see if they can come to a resolution or divorce agreement. This can not only save the petitioner and respondent money, but it can also help the case get moving along at a much faster pace. In addition, they may be able to meet with a mediator to determine the fate of critical issues such as custody, visitation, spousal support and property distribution.

  3. Petitioner must make sure they have completed all the paperwork. These forms can be located on the California Courts website, in county law libraries or at almost any courthouse.

  4. These forms must be filed at the courthouse. The clerk will keep the original paperwork forms and stamp copies of the forms as "Filed," then return them to the petitioner for their records. There are fees associated with filing.

  5. An individual that is at least 18 years of age or older, who is not directly a part of the case, must present the respondent with the court forms. Any time that a case is brought before the court, it is required by law for the respondent to be given adequate time to receive notice of the case and present their own case before a judge. This is called "service of process" and the person who delivers the forms must fill out a "proof of service" form to denote that the respondent is aware of the divorce filing. It is up to the petitioner to file the proof of service form.

  6. It is up to the respondent to determine their next move. They can attempt to speak with a judge regarding the forms, and if they do not the judge can make the final decision about ending the marriage or partnership for them. The respondent and petitioner can then try to work out a divorce agreement.

  7. Should the respondent want to reply to the petitioner's forms, they have to file their own set of forms with the court clerk. They have 30 days from the date they are served the petitioner's forms to file their response. There are associated fees for filing.

  8. An individual that is at least 18 years of age or older, who is not directly a part of the case, must present the petitioner with the court forms. The person delivering the forms must also fill out a "proof of service" form to show that they have served the petitioner with the appropriate information. It is up to the respondent to file this proof of service form with the court clerk.

  9. A "preliminary declaration of disclosure" must be put together. This shows the financial standing of both the respondent and petitioner, including their debts and assets. Later on in the divorce process, this declaration will be helpful in determining how to divide up the property.

  10. In order for a divorce or legal separation to be complete, a judgment must be signed and approved by the court. This is entirely dependent upon whether the respondent and petitioner can come to an agreement regarding the stipulations of their divorce. Six months must have passed since the divorce case was filed and since the responded was served the divorce papers. Additionally, there is paperwork that must be completed before anything can be completely final. If the couple can come to an agreement, they may not need to go before a judge; however, if they cannot they must go to court to an indefinite amount of time until both parties reach a solution.

It is critical to understand that if you are contemplating filing for divorce or legal separation in Mission Viejo or in the surrounding Orange County area, that you should highly consider obtaining an attorney. The divorce process is extremely complicated, full of deadlines and complex paperwork. Anything that is filed incorrectly or if certain deadlines are missed, it could result in a strenuous and taxing legal course of action. Those who are going through this process require the best divorce lawyer in Orange County, as it deals not only with their financial future but their emotional well-being.

Looking for a divorce attorney in Mission Viejo, California?

The compassionate and reliable team at The Hunter Law Group has been handling divorce and family law cases for over a decade. We know that there are many disagreements that couples can have regarding child custody, alimony and property division. If you are facing a contested divorce and were unable to come to an agreement with your partner or spouse, it is even more important that you realize the ramifications of having a divorce attorney by your side. There is too much on the line to attempt to handle something of this magnitude all alone.

Our legal team will be able to discuss your available options, advise you of the best course of action to take in your divorce and provide you with both aggressive and persuasive representation if you choose to work with us. While we can try to come to obtain peaceful agreement for you and your spouse through mediation, you can be sure that if some issues cannot be resolved, our firm can zealously represent you in courtroom litigation. Providing positive solutions for families throughout Orange County, do not hesitate to contact our Mission Viejo divorce lawyer to learn how we can help protect your rights and your future.