In short, you cannot avoid having to do at least one financial disclosure, called the preliminary declaration of disclosure. It is required by law, period. Many people believe that their situation is unique and that there is some kind of exception to the law based on their circumstances.
Common situations include the following:. In every one of the above-mentioned scenarios, the answer remains the same: you are required to complete your financial disclosure before moving forward with your divorce. You will not be able to obtain a divorce without completing your financial disclosures. You may be subject to sanctions fines , and may even lose the assets you refuse to disclose. Unfortunately, assuming your spouse is participating in the case, you will not be able to obtain a divorce until your spouse completes his or her financial disclosure. The court can sanction fine your spouse and prohibit your spouse from producing evidence about his or her assets and debts if a financial disclosure has not been provided.
You will first want to identify the areas in which the disclosure is incomplete or inaccurate. If your spouse still refuses to accurately disclose assets, you have a number of other options, including formal discovery and seeking court orders. Serving discovery is discussed further in Step 8. In order to waive your final financial disclosures, you and your spouse will need a mutual agreement to do so.
Saving yourself time now may hurt you in the future. Use our child support calculator to help estimate your child support obligation under California Child Support Guidelines. Calculate Child Support. Discovery is the formal method of obtaining relevant information from your spouse. During divorce proceedings, you are permitted to obtain discovery up until 60 days before trial. You can serve discovery directly on your spouse using the following general categories:.
This is a formal legal request for documents, electronically stored information, or other records. It is a very useful tool to obtaining documents such as bank records, medical records, paycheck stubs, and tax returns. These are written questions that must be answered under penalty of perjury. There are two types of interrogatories in family law matters: Form Interrogatories and Special Interrogatories. Form Interrogatories are standard questions that are commonly asked in divorce cases.
Special Interrogatories are questions that are specifically tailored to your situation and spouse. This requires your spouse to admit or deny the truth of a statement under penalty of perjury. If your spouse admits a statement it is considered to be a fact that can be used at trial. Requests for Admissions are generally unhelpful without being used in conjunction with interrogatories. Your spouse is required to answer a series of questions, and the proceeding is memorialized in a written transcript.
You also have the option of serving discovery on third parties through something called a subpoena. Subpoenas can require the third party to provide documents, much like a Request for Production of Documents, or to testify in a deposition. Subpoenas can be very good tools for obtaining employment records, medical records, bank records, and other records that your spouse may not have in his or her possession.
Discovery is one of the many tools you have at your disposal during the divorce proceedings. At its core, discovery is a process of information gathering. Every case is different, and as such, you need to determine whether or not discovery is the right strategy for your situation.
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The key to protecting your rights in a divorce is to make sure that you know what exists, including the good, bad, and ugly. You cannot fully protect yourself without knowing what is out there. In general, discovery is one of the most expensive investments in a divorce. Not only does it cost money to prepare and serve discovery, but it also takes a substantial amount of time to review the documents and other answers to the discovery.
In addition to cost, discovery is often considered to be an act of war. Whenever you serve discovery, you should be prepared for your spouse to retaliate with the same requests and interrogatories. This may ultimately increase the conflict and tension. Finally, discovery can be abused. Some people can use this tool as a weapon, and so long as it is masked under a guise of being relevant, you will have little protection from the law. Discovery responses are generally due 30 calendar days after service. If the discovery was served by mail, you have an additional 5 calendar days, changing your deadline to 35 days after service.
If you or your spouse miss the deadline to respond to discovery, any objections to responding are automatically waived. If you need more time, you should ask for an extension. Discovery extensions are fairly common, and obtaining a written agreement for an extension that also preserves your ability to object to the discovery will protect you and your rights.
If a person fails to respond to discovery, or the answers are incomplete, the party seeking the discovery may file a motion with the court to compel answers or the production of documents. It is generally a good idea for both parties to discuss the outstanding discovery before going to the time and expense of filing a formal motion.
If there was no response, the meet and confer is a suggestion but not a requirement. Once all reasonable and good faith attempts have been made to resolve the issue, commonly known as a discovery dispute, then the motion to compel will likely be filed. The court can issue sanctions for failure to comply with the discovery process. These sanctions include the following:. While the code does not specifically state the amount of attorney fees, the goal is to encourage both sides to be transparent and comply with the discovery process.
If a party continues to fail to respond to discovery, a judge can issue a number of various nonmonetary sanctions. A motion to compel must be filed no later than 45 days after the response to the discovery was filed. If a person does not respond at all to discovery, he or she can be served with a motion to compel at any time. In the event that a trial date has been set, a hearing on a motion to compel must be scheduled at least 15 court days before trial.
A complete settlement involves a full resolution of all issues related to the divorce. Settlement is a two-way street, meaning that it truly has to be an agreement between you and your spouse. Your final judgment, or divorce decree, will recite the terms of your agreement. Divorce issues include the following:. A full agreement will be detailed enough so that both of you understand the terms and conditions. It will also need to be written down in a proper legal format that can be approved by your judge. In order to settle, both of you will need to compromise. Neither spouse is going to get everything on his or her wish list.
At the same time, a good settlement will be one that both of you can live with. As for the other issues, there is no automatic timeline for when settlement can begin. Your specific situation will dictate the best time to begin discussing settlement. Keep in mind that you may not be in a position to settle your case for a long time, and there is nothing wrong with waiting.
Your family is going through an enormous amount of change, and it can take time to get settled in. Your children may need to adjust to living in separate residences before you can determine whether or not the visitation schedule is best for them. As for the issue of support, it can be very daunting to try and determine what amount is reasonable. Divorce is a time of upheaval, and many people have to move to new residences and even new cities. Monthly budgets change, some spouses are looking to enter the workforce, and both spouses are recovering from the financial impact of divorce.
In other words, rushing to resolve the issue of support can be financially detrimental to one or both spouses. Take your time. While settlement for the sake of settlement is rarely a good idea, there are many advantages to reaching a resolution with your spouse. Settling your case with your spouse allows the two of you to retain control over your own lives.
You and your spouse are in the best position to determine what is best for you and your children. No matter how compassionate your judge is, that person is still not going to have to live with the consequences. You and your spouse will live with the decisions that are made in your divorce. It is your choice as to whether or not you want to be the ones making the decision, or if you want to give that power to a third party who will never really know you as people.
Settlement allows for greater creativity in the divorce process. By settling, you and your spouse have the opportunity to do better than what the law gives you. You can come up with unique and creative solutions to your problems. While a judge is limited by the law, you and your spouse are only limited by your creativity and willingness to work together. In addition, settling your divorce is very empowering and teaches you important tools to working together in the future.
Divorce changes your relationship, but in most situations, it does not end the relationship. It is your choice as to whether you want your future relationship to be cordial and friendly, or contentious and bitter. Once your divorce is done, you want it to really be done. A judge can help you with your case through something called a Settlement Conference.
A Settlement Conference is a court hearing where a judge assists parties with resolving their differences. Judges assist with the settlement process by listening to both sides and suggesting compromises. Some judges will provide input as to their thoughts on the legal aspects of the issues or give insight as to how they might rule if the issues were presented at trial. Settlement Conferences, if used correctly, can be an effective and positive method to resolving divorce cases.
A final settlement agreement is documented in a divorce Judgment. If it is an agreed-upon judgment, it is called a stipulated judgment. The Judgment contains the legal terms and provisions as related to your agreements. Every county has its own specific procedural requirements for a divorce judgment, but in general, you will be required to use form FL and cover the following issues:. There are two types of child custody, legal and physical. Your agreement should state whether you will share joint custody, or if one parent will have sole custody.
You should have a clear parenting schedule that defines when your children are with each parent. Detailed visitation agreements will also contain provisions related to holidays and vacations. Child Support. The amount of child support payable from one parent to the other should be stated. If you are choosing an amount of child support that deviates from what a judge would order under the state guidelines, you should be clear as to why you are choosing to do something different. Child support agreements should also clarify which parent is claiming the children as dependents on tax returns, how uninsured medical expenses, child care, extracurricular activity, and other child-related expenses are divided, and who will be providing health insurance.
Spousal Support. The amount and duration should be specified as to each spouse, as well as the tax consequences. Property Division. You should be prepared to clearly state what you and your spouse each receive in the divorce. This includes everything from the household items to the retirement accounts. It is very important to clarify which spouse is responsible for what debt in order to avoid missed payments and credit damage. Attorney Fees. Even if each of you will be paying your own attorney fees, you should say so in the Judgment. Marital Status.
You have the option to pick the date you become single again, although you generally cannot pick a date before you actually submit your judgment or before the mandatory six month waiting period. If you do not have a preference, the date will be selected on your behalf. Step 9: Trial When is a divorce case set for trial?
Trial dates are typically only scheduled after all other settlement options have failed, including a Settlement Conference. Trials can be requested by one or both of the spouses, but there are times when the judge will set a trial, even if neither party asks for a trial date. In some situations, bifurcating separating certain divorce issues from the rest of the case can actually aid in settlement. One of the most common bifurcated issues is regarding the date of separation.
Once a judge makes a ruling on the date of separation, it can be easier for spouses to resolve their property and debt issues. Bifurcating certain issues can save time and money, and if you fall into that category of cases, you may wish to consider asking your judge for a bifurcated trial. Unless you can settle your case, the only way you can finish your case is through a trial. While you may be able to temporarily delay your case being set for trial, you will not be able to do so forever. At some point in time, the judge will set a trial date.
One of the questions the judge will ask is for a trial time estimate. Trial days are very different than business days. A half day is considered to be somewhere between two and three hours, and a full day is about six hours. You will need to tell the judge how many days you think your trial will take. Alternatively, the judge can also give you another trial date, which may be many months later. Both spouses will have to testify at trial. Lay Witnesses. These witnesses testify about their personal knowledge of the facts in your case.
These witnesses need to provide relevant information regarding the disputed issues in your case. Expert Witnesses. These witnesses testify based on their special knowledge and proficiency in a particular field. There are two types of expert witnesses, those appointed by the court, and those who have been privately retained by one of the parties.
These experts are considered neutral, and their job is to report their expert opinions to the judge. What kind of preparation is involved in a California divorce trial?
Each county has its own unique set of specific pre-trial orders. These orders need to be carefully followed, and failing to do so may result in you not being able to present your evidence. You need to provide the other side and the court with a summary of all of the documentary evidence you intend to present at trial.
Exhibits are anything other than testimony that can be perceived by the senses and include things such as records, photographs, charts, tangible objects, and letters. Witness List.
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This is a list of all of the people you intend to call as witnesses at trial. Trial Brief. A trial brief is a roadmap of your case. It summarizes the issues, facts, and law in support of your trial position. What should I expect at trial? Trials generally follow the same organizational pattern. The Petitioner puts on his or her case first, followed by the Respondent. This is neither a good nor bad thing — someone has to go first.
The judge will confirm that both parties are ready to proceed with trial.
This includes reviewing a number of details such as ensuring that both sides have all of the exhibits, paid their trial fees, and discussed the case. Opening Statement. You have the option to provide an opening statement at trial. Many family law judges prefer to skip this step; however, it is an opportunity to provide the judge with an oral roadmap and present a factual summary of the case. Each witness is called up to the stand to testify.
This initial testimony is called direct testimony. Direct testimony is usually presented with open-ended questions that start with who, what, where, when, how, and why. Once direct examination is done, the other side has a chance to ask questions by cross-examinations. Closing Argument. Once all of the evidence has been presented and all witnesses have been questioned, each side has the opportunity to provide a closing argument.
A good closing argument puts all of the pieces of the puzzle together to create a clear picture of the desired outcome. It explains how all of the facts, law, and evidence work together in your favor. In addition, you will also receive a separately filed Notice of Entry of Judgment. Once you receive these documents back, you will know that your divorce is final. After you submit your proposed Judgment to the court, it can take weeks and even months before your judge is able to review and approve it. Until it is filed, you are technically not done with your case. This waiting period can be extremely frustrating and stressful, since there is little you can do to speed up the process without hiring a private judge.
If you choose to hire a private judge, your judge will be able to review and sign off on your judgment must faster than a public judge. You will first and foremost want to review your judgment to make sure you are in full compliance with the orders. Common examples of what you may need to do after the divorce include the following:. It may be a good idea to create a checklist in order to avoid missing any important action items.
If you requested the restoration of a former name in your divorce judgment, you can begin changing your name once you receive your filed judgment back from the court. You will need to start with filling out an application for a new Social Security card with your restored name.
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You will also need to provide your new name to your employer to change your payroll and Human Resource records. Revoke your will and draft a new one if you have not already done so. While California law states that a divorce revokes any bequests that your will made to your former spouse, you should still update it. That way, you can clarify where the property that previously would have gone to your former spouse would go to instead. Name an executor. You will want to consider changing executors.
Name a guardian for your minor children.
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