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Steven E. Springer July 16, 2020

If you or your spouse have filed for divorce in California, you need to prepare for a lengthy process and possible court appearances. It takes at least six months from the date of a petition to complete the divorce proceedings. A contested divorce that involves child custody, spousal support, or division of assets can take more than a year and require you to appear before a judge. 

At The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer, we have more than 30 years of combined experience serving families throughout Santa Clara County, including Morgan Hill, San Jose, and Fremont. We will help you fight for your best interest and set you up for success as you enter the next phase of your life.

The Divorce Process in California: What to Expect

California courts follow a step-by-step process, including: 

1. One Party Files a Petition for Divorce

A person files a petition for divorce. The petitioner must decide what type of separation they want and whether they qualify to get a divorce in California. They also need to pay the fees, fill out all documents, and address any special issues or procedures that the courts need to consider. 

2. The Receiving Party Issues a Response

The respondent decides how they want to handle the case. They can either work out the agreement with the other party or contest the terms of the petition. The respondent then fills out and submits all documents. 

3. Parties Draft the Terms of The Divorce

Both parties work together to discuss the terms of the divorce (such as support amounts, child custody, and asset division) and settle any disputes. If the one or both parties can’t come to an agreement regarding the terms of the divorce, they may appear before the court. A judge will render a decision to settle any disputes or discrepancies. 

4. Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure

Under a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure, both parties exchange financial documents and reveal all assets, properties, and debts. Disclosure allows both parties to divide property and debt in a mutually beneficial way. 

5. Court Approves and Signs a Judgment

If both parties come to an agreement as to the terms of the divorce, a judge will assess the final details of the case and approve and sign the petition. A separation is only legal in California if the court approves and signs the petition. 

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in California

Since California is a no-fault divorce state, neither spouse has to prove that the other spouse committed any misconduct. However, when it comes to child custody, spousal support, or division of assets, either or both spouses can challenge the terms of the divorce. Whether the spouses agree or disagree is known as an uncontested or contested divorce. 

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is one in which the separating couple agrees on all relevant issues such as child custody and division of assets. Divorce proceedings are much smoother when both couples work together without the need for the courts to intervene. Their agreed-upon terms are filed with the court and approved by a judge. Appearing in court is generally not necessary under these circumstances. 

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is one in which the separating couple is unable to reach a mutual agreement as to the terms of the divorce. In a contested divorce, a court appearance will likely be required and the court will render a final decision to resolve any disputes. 

Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in San Jose, California

If you are considering a divorce in California, or have just been served with papers, then contact The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer. Let us help you get the best outcome for your case. Call our law firm to get a free case review from a divorce lawyer in San Jose, California. We also serve clients in Morgan Hill, Fremont, Hayworth, Alameda County, Santa Clara County, and Pleasanton.