San Diego and Carlsbad Divorce Lawyer

What California Law Says About the Divorce Process


Filing For Divorce In San Diego

Petition for Dissolution
The first step to filing for divorce in San Diego is to file the Petition for Dissolution.  This is a two page document that lays out the basics of the marital relationship including the date of marriage, the date of separation, the minor children of the marriage, the reason for the divorce, and the request being made to the court for a judgment of dissolution.

Service of the Petition for Dissolution
The party that files the petition is known as the Petitioner and the opposing spouse is known as the Respondent.  The Respondent must be served with the Petition in order for the divorce process to commence.  Once served, the Respondent must file a response within 30 days of service.  If this is not done, then the Petitioner may choose to request that a default be entered agasint Respondent.  (This tool is effective when the opposing spouse is refusing to participate and wants to make the divorce difficult).

Once the Petition is properly served, the Divorce proceedings begins and your case either moves toward settlement or trial.

Sixth Month Waiting Period
In California, parties cannot be officially divorce until sixth months have passed from the date of service of the Petition for Dissolution.  This does not mean that the case cannot settle within the sixth month waiting period.  It only means that the marital status will not terminate until that time.

Often, divorce cases may settle relatively qucikly and a judgment of dissolution will be entered by the court prior to the sixth month time period lapsing.  In cases such as this, all provisions of the settlement go into affect upon the judgment being entered, and the judgment will note a date in the future when martial status is actually terminated.

If you are considering filing for divorce or have been served with a Petition for Divorce, call Griffith, Young & Lass for a free consultation.  Ask about our flat fee divorce option and our discounted billing rates.

Control of Assets After Filing for Divorce

Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders
Once the Petition for Divorce has been filed and served, there are automatic restraining orders that  go into place immediately.  Divorce lawyers calls these ATROS.  These orders enjoin either party from moving assets including cash, stocks, retirement accounts, etc; they also enjoin either spouse from canceling or changing any health insurance plans, auto insurance plans, and life insurance plans without the express consent of the other spouse or an order from the court.

It is very important that you understand the ATROS and abide by them.  Violation of the ATROS could result in sanctions and attorneys fee orders against you.

Fiduciary Duties During Divorce
Each spouse in a Divorce proceeding owes the same fidiciary duty to the other spouse as he or she would owe to a business partner.  The marital assets must be regarded as business assets and managed and cared for as such.  If the parties own a house together, then the house must contiune to be maintained by the party living in the house.  If the parties own a business together, then the business must continue to be run with as much responsibility and due care as it was during the marriage.  In short, damage to a marital asset due to the neglect of one spouse amounts to a breach of that spouses fidiciary duty to the community and to the other spouse.

Breach of fiduciary duty is taken very seriously by California Divorce Courts.  In eggregious cases, the court may award an entire asset to the non-offending spouse in a case of breach of fiduciary duty.

If you are not sure what you can and cannot do once a Divorce has been filed, call now for a free consultation with an experienced
San Diego Divorce Lawyer.

Financial Disclosure Requirements in Divorce Cases

Full Disclosure Requirement
California has very strict requirements when it comes to financial disclosures between parties in a divorce case.  Within 45 days of the filing of a petition for divorce, each party is required to make 100% disclosure of all assets and debts as of the date of disclousre and to serve on the other party what is called a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure along with the financial disclosure documents themselves.

Financial Disclosure Documents
The two most common financial disclosure forms used are the Schedule of Assets and Debts (SAD), and the Income and Expense Declaration (IED).  The Schedule of Assets and Debts is a full list of all assets and all debts including the date of aquisition, the fair market value, and any money owed on an asset.  The Income and Expense Declaration is a snapshot of a parties monthly income and monthly expenses.  This document will include employer inffromation, education information, and information regarding the children of the marriage.

Full financial disclosure to perhaps the most important aspect of the preparation of a divorce case.  Both parties should have everything on the table when negotiating the terms of settlement.  if one party discovers that the opposing party has willfully failed to disclosed assets or income this can have devastating consequences on the non-disclosing party including sanctions, attorneys fees and the setting aside of an judgment of dissolution.

There is a famous case of a woman that failed to disclose a winning lottery ticket of over a million dollars.  She held onto the ticket until the divorce was final and then cahsed it in.  When her ex-husband discovered that this lottery ticket was purchased during the marriage and thus considered community property he filed a motion with the court.  The court awarded the ex-husband 100% of the lottery winnings as a sanction aginst the wife!

If you have questions about Californias strict laws when it comes to financial disclosures in divorce casescall now to speak with an experienced San Diego Divorce Lawyer.

How long do I have to respond to a divorce Petition?

You have thirty days from the service of the Petition for Dissolution to file a response.  If you fail to meet this deadline then your spouse can request that the court enter a default against you.  You dont want this to happen.  If you are up against the deadline you need to either get a response filed or ask for an extension in writing.  At Griffith, Young & Lass we can get a Response prepared and filed for you on the day that you call our office. 

How long does it take to get divorced?

Technically your divorce can be finalized six months from the date that the Respondent is served with the Summons and Petition.  Some divorces take much longer depending on the circumstances.  At our family law firm settlement is always the number one priority.  We will try and settle your case quickly and as cheaply as possible.  Sometimes litigation is unavoidable, but we always do our best to keep the costs down.

How much does a divorce cost?

We have handled quick and easy full divorces completed to Judgment for as little as $500.  However the average retainer is $2,500 which generally covers a divorce with limited issues in dispute.  Of course there are always exceptions and some divorces can get quite expensive.

What issues are decided in a divorce?

How is alimony decided?

What if I have a prenuptial agreement?

How are businesses divided in a divorce?