A Brief Overview
Divorce is often a very unpleasant process — strong emotions may bring out the worst in people because everything they care about is affected. A decision to end your marriage is never easy, but what can make ending a bad relationship and making important decisions easier is educating yourself and setting goals. Setting goals is important for a 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 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.
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 those issues earl y
- Implementing a time-efficient and cost-effective strategy to achieve the client’s goals
A frequently asked question is: How long does the divorce process take? Based on your goals, your 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 lawyer will make all efforts to move your case forward as quickly as possible. Ultimately, how long your divorce takes depends on how fast the parties can agree.
Take a look at my blog entry titled “How to Survive Divorce the Right Way.”
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 they are served to file their 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 lawyer to prepare the disclosures. It is possible that you or your spouse will ask the court to make temporary orders.
The 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 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 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.
I will put forth my best effort to move your case forward, but things take time — especially in a system ran by human beings. I encourage you to contact my office to discuss your goals and to learn about your options if you are considering divorce.