FAQ About Family Law

Individuals in search of a Brea divorce lawyer to kick-start the divorce application process can find valuable information regarding divorce procedures below.


What are the grounds for divorce in California?

California is a "No Fault" divorce state, which means that you do not need to have a specific reason to file for divorce and only need to state that irreconcilable differences have arisen in the marriage. While there are additional grounds for dissolution of marriage, the most commonly alleged basis is irreconcilable differences because no proof or evidence is required to obtain a Judgment of Dissolution. One must simply state that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the court will grant the dissolution, even if the other spouse does not agree or wish to be divorced.

What do I do when I'm served with divorce papers in CA?

If you are served with Dissolution papers you should immediately consult with a lawyer. A lawyer can help assist in understanding what is being requested and sought by the petitioner and can provide important and necessary advice and guidance to protect your interests and rights. A lawyer can advise as to what actions are immediately necessary and help you ascertain whether you should retain a lawyer to represent you in the proceedings.

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What happens after a divorce case is filed?

After a dissolution case is filed, the responding party must be served with the dissolution pleadings. The respondent (with a few exceptions) must be personally served with the Petition and associated documents. The respondent then has 30 days to file a Response. If a Response is not filed within that time frame the petitioner may seek to obtain a Judgment by default. If a timely Response is filed, the case proceeds forward.

At this stage either party may request and set a hearing date seeking temporary court orders or, if necessary, seeking emergency court orders. Such orders are most commonly sought on the issues of child custody/visitation, child support and spousal support, but may also be sought on a number of other issues which require some initial determination during the pending case. Additionally, this is the time period in which each side may conduct "discovery" (by way of depositions, document requests, interrogatories, etc.) requesting information and documentation from the other side. Each party is required to fill out and provide to the other side documents disclosing regarding assets and debts and their current income and expenses.

Negotiation and settlement discussions may occur at any time throughout the proceedings. The parties may participate in a Settlement Conference at the court with a Judge or settlement conference officer assisting counsel and the parties in an attempt to achieve settlement. If the case does not settle in its entirety, the case proceeds to trial on any contested issues remaining.

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How long does it take to get divorced in California?

The earliest that a person's marital status can be terminated is six months and one day from the date the respondent is served with the dissolution paperwork. While it is possible to complete a dissolution case in less than six months, the Judgment of Dissolution will set the date for the termination of the parties' marital status, at earliest, six months and one day from the date the Petition was served. More frequently, a case is not completed within six months. In those cases, it is possible, upon proper application to the court, to "bifurcate" the issues of the case whereby the court terminates the parties' marital status before resolving all other issues. In such cases the case remains active and pending until the remaining issues are resolved by settlement or trial.

How are court orders enforced in California?

There are several different avenues in which a court order may be enforced. To immediately address a violation that is occurring, such as a failure to return a child following a visitation (or the reverse situation where the custodial parent does not produce the child for visitation), the aggrieved party may call the police and report the violation. The police may assist in enforcing the court order, or they may just write an incident report, or the police may do nothing at all.

Additionally, a party may file a contempt proceeding charging the other party with contempt of the court order. In such a proceeding, the matter is treated as a criminal proceeding with the filing party acting as the prosecutor who must prove the violation to the court by a very high standard of proof ("beyond a reasonable doubt"). The offending party is called the defendant in such a proceeding and is entitled to all the same protections as a criminal defendant such as the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. If the contempt is proven, the offending party is convicted of contempt and may be sentenced to up to five days in jail for each count of contempt that is proven.

Other enforcement options include wage assignments (for child and spousal support orders), wage garnishment, as well as a number of additional remedies and options imposed by Judicial Officers.

How are court orders modified in California?

A party wishing to modify or change an existing court order must file an Order to Show Cause re: Modification. The types of orders that are usually subject to modification are orders involving minor children such as custody, visitation and child support, as well as orders for spousal support. Orders made regarding the division of assets and debts pursuant to Judgment are intended to be permanent, binding and non-modifiable orders unless otherwise stated in the Judgment.

Whether or not a court will modify a previous court order is a complex and complicated issue with the outcome determined by past and present circumstances, whether or not the current order is a "temporary" order or considered a "permanent" order, burden of proof issues, as well as statutory and case law pertinent to the specific issues raised by the modification request.


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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
Law Office of Jamison K. Shedwill
Law Office of Jamison K. Shedwill
Brea Divorce Attorney
(714) 453-4727 | (714) 529-6300
242 S. Orange Ave., Suite 107
Brea, CA 92821
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