The Wilson Law Firm, A Professional Corporation has been helping people through divorce proceedings for over 40 years.
This is the third of four installments about how divorce proceedings work in California. The information shared in these blogs should not be construed as legal advice, but if you are contemplating divorce, it should provide you with a roadmap.
During the Dissolution of Marriage Proceeding
Once the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has been filed with the court and served on the opposing party, a number of steps have to occur before the divorce is final. At the outset, either party may request a hearing to establish certain temporary court orders. A judge may issue temporary orders to resolve conflicts regarding child custody, visitation, support, restraining orders, and control or use of property for the time the proceeding is before the court. Once your divorce is final, these issues will be resolved on a more permanent basis in your divorce judgment, although custody and support issues may go on for many years after the entry of the judgment of dissolution.
California is a community property state. To determine what property the parties have an interest in, what property and debt is community property or community debt, and what property is separate property, both parties will be required to exchange Preliminary Disclosure Declarations and Final Disclosure Declarations. In these documents, the parties disclose the income they make, their ongoing expenses, their separate assets, their separate debts, what community property they know about, and what community debts they know about. If these disclosures are not adequate or if either party has additional questions, then interrogatories can be issued, depositions can be taken, and documents can be subpoenaed to ensure full and fair disclosure of all financial issues. The parties may waive the Final Disclosure Declaration, under certain circumstances, but they may not waive the Preliminary Disclosure Declaration. Once the marital assets and debts have been ascertained, the court can then properly characterize and award them to the parties.
Another main issue to be resolved during this time involves children. If the parties had children during the marriage, then child custody and child support issues will also be discussed and resolved. To determine the child custody arrangement, the court will look at what is in the best interests of the children involved. The court presumes that it is in the best interest of the children to have ongoing relationships with both parents unless there is evidence to the contrary.
To determine child support obligations, the court will look at the income of each party and how much time the children will be spending with that party. Both parties are required to financially support the children. In determining the child support amounts, the state has specific guidelines that it follows, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.
If you are going through a divorce or contemplating doing so, please contact The Wilson Law Firm, A Professional Corporation, today for your initial consultation.