Divorce 101

A Brief Overview By A San Jose Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is often a very unpleasant process. Strong emotions may bring out the worst of people because everything people care about is affected. A decision to end your marriage is never easy. What can make ending a bad relationship and making decisions associated with doing so easier is educating yourself and setting goals. Setting goals is important for the divorce, whether it is contested or uncontested. You have to know what’s important to you, and whatever that is, it has to make sense. A divorce lawyer will know how to help you achieve your goals and to protect your rights.

Set Your Goals

Divorce planning starts with understanding what is important to you. I talked about setting goals and discussing your goals with your divorce lawyer. When helping a client with divorce, I work based on the following principles: understanding what is important to the client; setting goals and expectations; learning about the possible contested issues and addressing these issues early; implementing a time-efficient and cost-effective strategy to achieve the client’s goals.

‚ÄčThe most frequently asked question is how long the divorce process takes. Based on your goals, your divorce lawyer will be able to tell you how long your divorce case is expected to take and estimate how much it will cost. Keep in mind that the divorce process takes time even though your divorce lawyer will make all efforts to move your case forward as quickly as possible. Ultimately, how long your divorce will take depends on how fast the parties can agree. Take a look at my blog entry titled “How to survive divorce the right way.”

Divorce 101

A divorce case starts by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. The petition and the summons are then served on your spouse. Your spouse has 30 days from the day he or she is served to file the response with the court. California Family Code requires you to serve your spouse with initial disclosures. You will be expected to provide the requested financial information to your divorce lawyer to prepare the disclosures. It is possible that you or your spouse will ask the court to make temporary orders.

‚ÄčThe court can make temporary orders for spousal support, child custody and visitation, child support, and attorney fees. The temporary orders will be put in place before the case is ready for trial. If you file a request for a temporary order, you will have to appear at the court hearing. If you child custody and visitation will be an issue in your divorce, please read my article about how child custody and visitation cases are decided in Santa Clara County. If there are contested property issues, the court will refer you to the Settlement Officer Conference (SOC) to resolve the contested issues. Although you might have to use an expert, experts should be used only when necessary. Depending on the issues involved, you may need to retain a vocational expert, an accountant, or a therapist. Your is divorce lawyer will make all efforts to negotiate a fair settlement. However, if negotiation is not possible and the parties just can’t agree, your lawyer will request to set the case for trial. Before the trial, the court will hold a mandatory settlement conference (MSC). Most cases settle before trial.

Your divorce lawyer will make the best efforts to move your case forward, things take time, especially in a system ran by human beings. I encourage you to contact my office if you are considering divorce to discuss your goals and to learn about your options.