Making the decision to file for a divorce in California is very difficult and many people are overwhelmed with the process and the paperwork. There are complicated decisions about finances, dividing assets and debts, developing a parenting plan and so much more. Additionally, and often times just as important as the legal issues is the emotional turmoil many parties feel and a feeling of not knowing what to do.
When a person makes that difficult decision to file for divorce sometimes there are some initial questions such as “Where do I file?” and more importantly “Can I file for divorce in California?”
The later question should be answered first because in order to file for divorce in California, the state requires that you be a resident of California for at least six months and that you have been a resident of the county wherein you reside for at least three months. Depending on the specific circumstances of your matter even if you do not meet with the jurisdictional requirements for a divorce in California, you may be able to file for a legal separation, which can later be amended.
The question of “Where do I file?” is more easily answered. Filing for divorce in California requires the preparation of several documents and a filing fee. The required documents are a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, a Summons and if the parties have children, an additional form called the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act or “UCCJEA”. In short, the UCCJEA is a uniform act that grants the court of the “home state” of a child exclusive jurisdiction for issues of child custody. All of these documents listed above must be completed and delivered to the clerk of the family law court, with two copies, and the required fees.
However, simply filing a Petition for Dissolution will not grant either party rights to child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support or divide any property rights. A party seeking to have any of the above issues must file a motion with the California court specifically seeking the requested relief.
Another serious issue to consider is the numerous tactical issues that affect the timing of a person filing a California Petition for Dissolution. These can range from specific issues regarding a determination of child custody and the best interests of the children to issues of property control. For example, by filing a California Petition for Dissolution and serving the required documents on your spouse, there are financial restraining orders that prohibit your spouse from transferring property, encumbering property or changing beneficiary designations without your consent.
At Santa Rosa Attorney, our family law attorneys are compassionate to your concerns and are here to assist you every step of the way.
At Beck Law, our team of family law attorneys is experienced in all facets of assisting you file for divorce and are able to evaluate the strategic intricacies of determining when you should file.
Your visit to the Beck Law Offices is confidential, as is the information discussed. You can contact our office for a free consultation at 707-576-7175 or contact us online.