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Legal Document Preparation

Filing Your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage & the Next Steps

By | Divorce, Legal Document Preparation | No Comments

Filing Your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage & the Next Steps

Starting Your Dissolution Case

To open a dissolution of marriage action in family court, the “Petitioner” (the spouse initiating the case) must file a Summons (Family Law) (form FL-110), Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (form FL-100) and any local form(s) required by your jurisdiction.  For example, in Orange County family court the Petitioner must also file a Family Law Notice Re Related Case (form L-1120).  Additionally, if there are minor children, the Petitioner must file a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (form FL-105).

Once the above documents are filed with the family court, the Petitioner must complete service of process.  There are options for completing this required procedural step, as follows:

  1. Personal Service:  Through this service method, the spouse or “Respondent” receives the documents personally, through a process server, a California sheriff, or a non-party who is at least 18 years of age.  This means the Petitioner cannot be the individual to personally serve their spouse.  If personal service is the method of service used, a Proof of Service of Summons must be completed and filed with the court (form FL-115).

 

  1. Substituted Service:  Through this service method, the Respondent can be served through service on a third party.  More specifically, if personal service is attempted at the Respondent’s business or workplace and the Respondent is not available to receive the service packet, the server may leave the documents with “a person at least 18 years of age who was apparently in charge at the office or usual place of business” of Respondent.  Such person must be informed of “the general nature of the papers”.

If personal service is attempted at the Respondent’s home and the Respondent is not available to receive the service packet, the server may leave the documents with “a competent member of the household (at least 18 years of age)”.  Such person must be informed of “the general nature of the papers”.

The server must try to serve the Respondent at least a few times (3 or more attempts is best) before leaving the service packet with the third party.  Different days of a particular week and/or different times of the day must be attempted.  “Due diligence” in attempting to serve the actual party spouse must be shown.

Under both the business and home options, the server must also thereafter mail an additional copy of the service packet to the Respondent at the location where the server left the initial copy.

Substituted service is deemed complete 10 calendar days after the mailing.

If substituted service is the method of service used, a Proof of Service of Summons must be completed and filed with the court (form FL-115).  A written declaration of due diligence, regarding attempts to serve the Respondent himself or herself, is also required.

  1. Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt:  Through this service method, the Respondent receives the documents through the mail.  Included in the service packet is a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt (form FL-117).  Service is deemed complete on the date the acknowledgment of receipt form is signed.  The recipient spouse must cooperate and return the signed form to the Petitioner or his/her attorney, so the form can be filed with the court. If the recipient spouse does not cooperate with this process, another service method will need to be used.

Once You Complete Service of Process

Following service (as described above) on the Respondent, the Respondent has 30 calendar days to file his or her Response (form FL-120).  With the Response form, the Respondent must also file any required local form(s), and a UCCJEA (form FL-105) if there are minor children.  The service packet provided to the Respondent must include a blank copy of the responsive forms.

If the Respondent does not file his or her Response with the family court within 30 calendar days from service, the Petitioner can move forward with a default divorce.  There are specific steps that must be taken to properly complete a default divorce.  Contact us today so we can explain the default process to you and answer your questions.

How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced?

You cannot finalize your divorce for at least 6 months from the date your spouse is served (or from the date your spouse files their Response if they file it prior to being served – and yes, that sometimes happens).

 

Your divorce case is final once a judge signs your final Judgment.  You are returned to the status of “single” on the date the court indicates your marital partnership ends.  (The date is written or stamped on the first page of the final Judgment.)

If a divorce case is dealt with amicably and cooperatively, it is plausible to have all the procedural steps completed and your Judgment submitted to the court for review within the 6-month waiting period.

If your divorce case is contested or has a need for litigation (either in a request for temporary orders or through a court trial), the divorce process can far exceed the 6-month waiting period, years even in many cases.

FREE CONSULTATION

The divorce process, whether you are the spouse initiating the case or responding to documents you were served with, can be overwhelming and stressful.  Our attorneys are experienced in dealing with both amicable and contested divorce matters.  We strive to alleviate some of that stress and concern for our clients.

 

Contact us today for a free, confidential phone consultation to discuss the process in further detail.

Registering Your Out-of-State Custody Order

By | Child Custody & Visitation, Court Orders, Divorce, Legal Document Preparation, Parentage | No Comments

Enforcement of Your Out-of-State Custody Order

If you have moved to the state of California from another state, you may register your out-of-state custody order for purposes of enforcement.  Once the order has been registered in your local court, if the other parent violates the custody order, you can pursue legal remedies to enforce the order.  Without the order being properly registered, the California court cannot enforce it.  

How to Register Your Out-of-State Custody Order

There are a few steps in the registration process.  

First, you must complete the required court form titled, “Registration of Out-of-State Custody Order” (FL-580).  You must attach two copies of your out-of-state order to the FL-580 form.  One of the copies must be a certified copy.  The other may be a photocopy.  You will sign the form under penalty of perjury asserting that, to the best of your knowledge and belief, the order has not been modified.  

Second, you must complete the required court form titled, “Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)” (FL-105).  This court form references other related cases involving your children, if any, an address history for your children and other related information.  

Last, you must complete any additional local forms required by your jurisdiction. For example, in Orange County the court requires a local form titled, “Family Law Notice Re Related Case” (L-1120) for all new matters.  

Once you submit your custody order to the court for registration, the court clerk will send notice of your registration packet to the other parent.  If the other parent wants to contest the validity of the out-of-state custody order, they must do so within 20 days of the date the notice was mailed to them.  The request must be in writing and filed in the court case.

The Court Hearing Process if the Validity of the Custody Order is Contested

At the court hearing, in order to avoid the court confirming the out-of-state custody order, the other parent must prove at least one of the following three things:

1.The issuing court did not have jurisdiction.
2.The child custody order you requested registration of has been vacated, stayed or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so.
3.The other parent was entitled to notice of the original order, but did not receive proper notice.  

Modifying the Out-of-State Custody Order Once Properly Registered in CA

Once your out-of-state custody order is registered in California, you may request a modification of the order under certain circumstances.  The circumstances in which you may request a modification involve a more complex analysis.  Our experienced attorneys can explain the process to you in more detail.

Free Consultation

Contact us today for a free confidential phone consultation so we can discuss your questions about the registration process to see if you qualify to request a registration in California and further, if you have sufficient basis to request modification of the order once registered.