Marriage Dissolution Timeline

File For Divorce (Dissolution)

The document that commences the entire case is the Petition and the person filing that document is referred to as the Petitioner throughout the entire proceedings. This Petition has to be served to the other spouse, who is referred to as the Respondent. The Respondent has 30 days from the date they are served to file a Response. If this Response is not filed, the Petitioner can choose to have a default judgment entered and proceed.

After 30 Days, If No response Is Filed

If your spouse does not file their Response within 30 days, it is possible to file a Request to Enter Default and still proceed with the case. A Judgment is usually filled at the same time, what is referred to as a Default Judgment. This Judgment is based on the information your originally put in your petition.

If a Request to Enter Default is filed with the Court, the Respondent will need to take further legal action if they want to be involved in the dissolution proceedings. This is usually done by filing a motion and asking the Court to do so. There are time limits on doing this.

30 Days — Response Filed

Once a Response is filed with the Court, then both spouses do essentially the same thing throughout the remainder of the case and for the most part there is no difference between Petitioner and Respondent. The case can either work towards settlement if that is feasible. Otherwise a hearing date is typically set to ask the Judge to decide things that cannot be agreed to between the two of you.

Temporary Orders During The Proceedings

Oftentimes it is necessary to get the court to make orders to "make life livable" during the course of the proceedings. These can be orders regarding where the kids will live, the parenting schedule of each parent, protective orders if necessary, child and spousal support and attorney fees. The attorney will discuss with you what you can expect and the best course of action to take.

Discovery (Time Varies)

Discovery is the exchange of information and documents so that both sides are knowledgeable as to the particulars of your situation. Oftentimes, one spouse managed everything during the marriage which leaves the other spouse with little to no information on the state of their finances. Through discovery, this information can be obtained. The extent to which discovery is needed and the details are something that you will discuss with the attorney to formulate the best approach for your particular situation.

Mandatory Settlement Conference

Once discovery is done, the settlement discussions can commence. If there is some resistance to this happening or if the case is not moving towards a settlement as you would like, we can request that the court set the matter for a Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC). The purpose of this conference is to give the parties and their attorneys an opportunity to discuss the case and try to resolve contested issues. The conferences are at the courthouse which allows for either side to request court assistance in resolving a matter. The court does not usually make orders during these conferences. It is common for the court to order more than one MSC.


All issues that are not resolved above will be decided by the court at a trial. The trial will include all remaining issues in the matter. A trial can take as little as one afternoon or may be many days long depending on the number and complexity of the issues.


The case is done when the court enters a judgment on all issues. Oftentimes, it is with this document that your marital status will be terminated and you will be restored to the status of "single". There are instances when this is done in separate parts and is not combined all together in one judgment. Additionally, if your case is taking longer than anticipated and if it is your desire to not delay in becoming single, you can discuss with the attorney whether it would be beneficial to terminate your marital status separate and before the other issues, which is referred to as "bifurcating marital status."

All divorce dissolution matters can be discussed further with our attorney, Linda J. Claypool, to determine the best course of action and what you can anticipate in your particular case.

Call 951-824-6574 or send us an email to schedule a free consultation at our Riverside law firm.