Are you going through a divorce? It can be an overwhelming process, especially if it’s your first time going through the courts to end your marriage. In California, there are certain rules and laws regarding the process of divorce. Knowing what to expect from the legal system will ensure that your divorce ends with the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Though divorce laws are different in every state, there are several things that are always true about divorce no matter where you live. If you’re considering divorce or if you just want to better understand your rights as an individual, you have to understand some of the basics of divorce laws in Ventura County, California.
Court Process for Obtaining a Divorce in Ventura
In general, this is the court process for obtaining a divorce, legal separation, or annulment of a marriage or domestic as per divorce laws
The person who starts the court case (the plaintiff) determines:
- How do I want to end my marriage or domestic partnership? Divorce, legal separation, annulment?
- If I want a divorce, are we eligible for an expedited dissolution?
- If I want a divorce, can I start it in California? In which county or counties can I file the case?
- How much will it cost me to submit the forms, and how can I pay the fees? Can I ask the judge to order the other party to pay my attorney’s fees?
- Are there any special procedures required by my local county court? Do I have to fill out a local form? How many copies of my documents will I have to submit?
- If applicable, the plaintiff can talk to his or her spouse or domestic partner (the defendant) to see if they can agree on the terms of the divorce or legal separation.
- If they can come to an agreement, they may be able to save certain filing fees (only the plaintiff may have to file documents with the court) and also a lot of time by not having to appear in court many times.
- You can get help from a mediator to resolve your disagreements.
- These conversations and attempts to agree on the terms of the divorce can occur throughout the case. Although a couple may not be able to reach an agreement at first, they may be able to do so as the case progresses. So, you should not give up trying to reach an agreement, either for the whole case or at least some parts of it.
DO NOT try to settle if you are facing issues with your partner, speak with a divorce laws attorney or counselor first.
- The complainant obtains and fills out all required forms (including any local forms he may need).
- You can find the forms on this website, in most courts, and in public libraries or county law libraries.
- Learn how to fill out court forms.
The plaintiff files their forms with the court
- “Filing the forms” means taking the forms to court and giving them to the court clerk. The clerk will place the original forms in a file that will start the court case, and will also stamp the photocopies with the word “Filed” and return them to the person filing the case.
- You have to pay a filing fee to file forms with the court. Find out how much you have to pay to file for divorce. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can request a fee waiver.
- A person at least 18 years of age who is not involved in the court case gives the other spouse or partner (the defendant) copies of the court forms.
- The person who delivers the copies of the court forms to the defendant fills out a form called “proof of service” to show that he or she served the correct forms in the right way to the defendant.
- The plaintiff files the proof of service form with the court clerk.
- Plaintiff is NOT done. There are more steps to take after the deadline for the defendant to file an answer. Without these additional steps, the divorce will NOT be final.
Local Court Cases That Affect Divorce
Each state has its own set of divorce laws and local court cases that can affect your marriage. These cases vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but could include things like: property division, child custody, alimony, and financial responsibilities post-divorce.
How Do I Initiate a Divorce Case?
The first step is figuring out how you want to file. That will determine what paperwork you’ll need to prepare and how you’ll ultimately go about filing your case.
You can file for divorce based on one of five grounds: irretrievable breakdown; (you’ve reached an impasse and can’t reconcile), adultery, cruelty (physical or mental), prolonged absence (in certain states) or desertion. It’s also possible to file for divorce on no-fault grounds, though that isn’t applicable everywhere.
What Kind of Financial Support Will I Receive?
Since California is a no-fault divorce state, you won’t need to prove that your spouse did anything wrong. You can simply file for divorce and rely on your spouse’s income to help pay your bills.
If you and your ex-spouse have children, Child Support will be enforced by a court; if necessary, enforced by law enforcement. Furthermore, some couples work out an agreement to split their assets and debts before filing for divorce so they don’t have to go through a lengthy trial after their marriage has ended.
How Are Property Distribution, Alimony Determined?
This is not something you want to leave up to chance. First off, if you have a prenuptial agreement, it will supersede whatever divorce laws there are here.
However, if you don’t have a prenup and haven’t been married for very long (typically under 7 years), then divorce laws apply. In other words, any assets or properties accumulated during your marriage belong equally to both spouses unless one spouse can prove that they were bought with their own money.
Hope this article helps you to know the basic of divorce laws in Ventura.
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