Divorce And What You Can Expect


If You're the Spouse Who Initiates the Proceedings

Petition Filed With Court

A divorce begins when one spouse files a Petition for divorce. In California, this is known as a Dissolution of Marriage action. The Petition includes information as to what that spouse is asking for, such as child custody, property division, child support and spousal support. The assets and debts are also listed in the Petition.

Documents Personally Served

After the Petition and associated documents are filed with the court, the documents then need to be personally served on the other spouse.

If You've Been Served by Your Husband or Wife

Response Needs to be Filed Within 30 Days

You have 30 days from the day you were given the papers to file your Response with the Court. If you do not file your Response with the Court, which includes paying your filing fee (unless you qualify for a fee waiver), the other party can request that your Default be entered. Understand that if your Default is taken, you are prevented from being involved in the case -- including to protect your rights. It is critical that you seek legal advice immediately after you get served to make sure you know what needs to be done and that you don't miss any deadlines.

Whether You're the Petitioner, or the Respondent,

You Can Also Expect the Following:

Interim Orders:

While the case is pending, if it's necessary, either spouse can ask the court to make a decision on certain things, such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, and even restraining orders. This type of hearing is an Order to Show Cause, and the orders are typically 'pendente lite" (meaning temporary) orders.


In the early stages of the proceedings, each spouse, typically with the assistance of a lawyer, conducts discovery -- which means that they gather together the information relating to the assets, debts and income of both parties, including to request items from the other party. This information is necessary to determine what a fair and equitable resolution would be and to be able to protect your rights. Once discovery is completed, the settlement process begins.

Settlement if Possible

It is usually at this point that both the husband and wife each determine how they wish to settle the issues, including division of their assets and debts, the care and custody of their children, and financial matters such as child support, spousal support and attorney fees. This settlement process can be handled informally between the spouses and their attorneys, without the Court's involvement.

Otherwise Court's Involvement

If settlement is not possible, though, the matter can be handled more formally through the Court. This includes to set a Mandatory Settlement Conference to involve the court in the issues that are in dispute. Ultimately, if the matter cannot be settled between the parties, the case will be set for Trial.


Typically the case is 'completed' when the court has issued a Judgment on all issues.

Be aware -- marital status is not terminated, and a person is not single, until a Judgment has been signed by the Judge which specifically terminates their marital status. This date can be no sooner than six months from when the Respondent was served with process, but can be later if such a Judgment is not signed by the Judge by that date. Typically, this occurs at the same time all of the other issues are resolved. But if the process is taking longer than anticipated, or for various other reasons, it may be possible to have the court terminate your marital status sooner. If terminating your marital status is important to you, seek the advice of your attorney to determine if doing so would be in your best interests.

Difference If Your Matter Is a Legal Separation

The process described above is essentially identical in a Legal Separation, with the main difference being that marital status is not terminated, and you continue to be legally married. All other issues, though, are handled the same way. This includes division of your assets and debts and support.

If you are thinking of a Legal Separation instead of a divorce, discuss with your attorney before filing to determine what best fits your needs.


Call for a Free Initial Consultation About Legal Separation in San Bernardino and Riverside

At the Law Offices of Linda J. Claypool, we offer friendly, approachable and professional representation to husbands and wives involved in family law matters, including divorce, legal separation and annulments. We understand that emotions have a significant impact on family law disputes, and we strive to provide a high level of personal attention to all of our clients, making certain we promptly return your calls and keep you informed of all developments in your case.

If you are seeking a divorce, legal separation or an annulment, contact us online, or call us at 951-787-8700 for a free initial consultation.

Our office is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

We accept Visa and MasterCard and offer payment plans to qualified clients.

bLaw Offices of Linda J. Claypool

6841 Magnolia Avenue, Suite B
Riverside, CA 92506
Local: 951-787-8700

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