San Diego Divorce Typically Involves Four Steps
Steps of a Divorce #1:
Step one is starting a San Diego divorce by preparing and processing the necessary paperwork to initiate the case with the court. This may include some of the following documents:
- Summons and Petition
- Request for Order pleadings for the purpose of requesting relief at a hearing
- Temporary Restraining Orders
- Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure including an Income and Expense Declaration and Schedule of Assets and Debts
- Responsive pleadings to any order requested by the opposing party.
Following the first meeting, we generally prepare all the necessary paperwork in order to initiate the steps of a San Diego divorce. These pleadings are then filed with the court and served on the other party. The purpose of the service is to “start the clock ticking,” as once the pleadings are served upon the other party, a San Diego divorce can be granted—at the earliest—six (6) months from the date of service. The purpose of the 6-month waiting period is the court’s desire to encourage reconciliation between the spouses and if in fact a reconciliation occurs during this period, we will see that all paperwork necessary to stop the San Diego divorce is prepared for you. In the event you have been served with San Diego divorce papers, we can assist you by preparing a response on your behalf.
Steps of a Divorce #2:
After the pleadings have been drafted and served, it may be necessary to prepare a Request for Order to request interim orders at a scheduled hearing on the Court’s calendar. Generally, the following issues may be addressed at such a hearing:
- Spousal Support
- Child Support
- Child Custody and Visitation
- Restraining Orders
- Use of residence
- Request for attorney fees and costs
- Other miscellaneous relief, which may be necessary in order to maintain stability for the benefit of the parties and any children.
Each side is also required to complete a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. The Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure consists of the Income and Expense Declaration and Schedule of Assets and Debts which must be provided to the other side within 60 days of the filing of the Petition or Response (California Family Code § 2104). It is very important to ensure that these documents are accurately prepared.
Steps of a Divorce #3:
The third step involved in a San Diego divorce is the discovery phase. This may include the use of interrogatories (written questions and answers), a demand for documents, subpoenas and possibly depositions. The purpose of discovery is to gather any and all information which may be relevant to the resolution of the case. It may be necessary to send out subpoenas to verify the information obtained at a deposition, or to assist in ascertaining the tracking and/or values of assets.
By the time the first three steps of a San Diego divorce are completed, the emotional involvement of the parties has generally subsided to the level where many cases are in fact resolved by settlement. Our office works with the client and the other side to attempt settlement and avoid unnecessary costs of litigation. If a settlement is reached, it is then memorialized in a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement essentially indicates which assets will be allocated to the wife, and which assets will be allocated to the husband. It will also address custody and support, visitation (if there are any minor children), assets, debts and all other issues. The settlement agreement is thereafter filed with the San Diego Superior Court in the form of a binding Judgment. The court sets periodic Family Resolution Conferences (FRC) to oversee the progress occurring in your case until a final Judgment is filed.
In order to facilitate settlement, the court will usually set a case for a MANDATORY SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE (MSC) when discovery is complete and disclosures have been exchanged. Depending on the location of your case, there are experienced attorneys willing to act as settlement judges to assist the parties in reaching a settlement agreement. If the matter cannot be resolved by settlement, the matter will proceed to the fourth step, which is trial.
Steps of a Divorce #4:
If your case does not settle, the court will set a trial date. If the trial is expected to be shorter than three hours, it will be placed on what is called the “short-cause” calendar. If it is longer than three hours, it will be placed on the “long cause” calendar. You are generally assigned a date for trial within 3-6 months from the date on which the trial is requested. Scheduling is dependent on the availability of a judge to hear your case. A settlement conference in advance of trial is mandatory.