How to Get a Divorce --
A Step by Step Guide
Do you know how to get a divorce? My name is Julian Fox and I'm a Riverside Family Law Attorney. I've been practicing law for 17 years and in that period of time, I've encountered many people who don't know where to start, so I thought that one of the first pages that I built would be about how to get a divorce.
There are all kinds of resources on how to get married. But when it comes to ending a marriage, the process is mired with confusion. I've practiced criminal defense and civil litigation too, and I've found that family law is by far the most complicated. That's why I highly recommend getting an attorney if there are any major issues in the case like child custody or property division.
That said, the first step in how to get a divorce is filing the Petition. This is a simple two page form that asks for basic data about your residence, statistical facts about your marriage, declaration about minor children, statement of separate property, basis for the action, and orders about child custody, child support, and spousal support. This document must be served on the other party along with a Summons and a blank Response. These three forms can be downloaded at here . In Riverside county, you must also fill out a Certificate of Counsel which can be found here .
The person who serves the Petition first becomes the Petitioner and the other party is the Respondent. In 99 percent of cases, it does not matter who is the Petitioner and who is the Respondent -- they are treated equally in court. However, when the two parties live in different counties, states, or countries, it can make a great deal of difference who serves first because that will determine jurisdiction. One party must be a resident of the county for at least six months prior to filing the Petition.
After being served with the Petition, the Respondent has 30 days to file his or her Response. This form mirrors the Petition.
At some point, a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure must be filed with the Court by both the Petitioner and Respondent. This certifies that you have filled out and served the Schedule of Assets and Debts and the Income and Expense Declaration on the opposing party.
If you need Court Orders prior to the final Judgment (and in many cases you will), then you will need to file an Order to Show Cause. This can be about Child Custody, Child Support, Spousal Support, Property Issues, etc. At a minimum, an Order to Show Cause requires a form which can be found here and a Declaration which is a written statement supporting your request. A Memorandum of Points and Authorities is also useful. The Memorandum outlines the legal basis for the Order from statutes and case law. There will be a hearing in front of the Judge who will rule on your Order to Show Cause. In many cases, you will have multiple Order to Show Cause hearings to determine a number of issues as the case evolves.
At some point, you will be able to wrap the case up and have a final Judgment. This means that all of the issues are resolved. However, unlike other cases, a final Judgment does not mean that you will never revisit the issues in the case. As long as you have minor children or support issues, either party can file an Order to Show Cause at any time.
I'm often asked how to get a divorce, and that's why I wrote this guide. But there are so many issues in family law that one page wouldn't suffice. That's why you need to explore the relevant links on this web site to find out the general answers to your questions. Then, if you have specific questions, you can email them to me via my Ask Julian Anything form below or call my office at 877-369-5294 and set up an appointment for a consultation either in my Riverside family law office or over the phone. I give free consultations to anyone who books an appointment with me off my website.
And that's how to get a divorce!
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