Legal Separation vs. Dissolution of Marriage
Your spouse does not need to give you permission, or even agree with you. To file for a divorce you must have lived in the state of California for the last six months, and in the county where you file for the last three months. If you do not meet these residency requirements you may still file for a legal separation. If you're not sure that you are ready for a divorce, you may want to seek personal or marriage counseling. The process of getting a divorce begins once you file the initial papers.
Divorce, Dissolution, and Legal Separation – What’s the Difference?
Everyone's case will take a different amount of time. The process may take several months if the case is uncontested, or it could take years if there is a lot of disagreement or complex issues.
A person is able to remarry only after the Judgment has been entered terminating marital status. The earliest date upon which marital status can be terminated is six months and one day after the Respondent was served with the Petition and Summons for dissolution.
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It is the responsibility of either or both parties to bring the case to Judgment. However, even though the rules for how to serve papers have changed, the law still requires that the non-filing spouse be given notice of the divorce.
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- Default Judgments – Trial Courts Must Carefully Examine Petitioner’s Complaint?
When the non-filing spouse receives notice that a petition to dissolve a marriage has been filed, that recipient spouse must respond to the petition and file an answer. If you do not respond by the deadline to file an answer, this can be considered a default in California divorce proceedings.
You do not want to default because the divorce is going to move forward anyway even if you do nothing.
Failure to respond will not stop the marriage from being dissolved; it simply means that you will lose your right to voice your opinion, make arguments, and have a say in how the divorce occurs. Instead of defaulting in your divorce, you should contact an experienced attorney for help responding if a petition to end your marriage has been filed.
The Judicial Branch of California indicates that a true default occurs when a spouse who is served with divorce papers does not respond and the couple does not have a written agreement in place dictating the terms of a divorce settlement. A true default in California divorce proceedings is considered to have occurred when there is no agreement in place and more than 30 days have passed since the petition and summons was served. In cases of a true default, the spouse who filed for divorce will need to complete forms including a request to enter default, as well as a declaration for default.
Both a judgment form, and a notice of entry of judgment form, must also be completed.
There may be additional forms to fill out as well, including forms asking for a custody order, child support, spousal support, and forms related to the division of community property. The court will review the forms and will then move forward to dissolve the marriage. The spouse who did not respond to the divorce petition will lose the opportunity to make arguments related to custody, support, and how assets are divided.
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The key is never to default in California divorce proceedings.