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A court of law has the power to dissolve a marriage legally, which is referred to as divorce. The introduction of no-fault laws has enabled either partner in a marriage to file for divorce unilaterally, citing “irreconcilable differences” as the reason. During the divorce proceedings, both parties must decide on matters such as alimony, child custody and support, and the division of marital assets and debts. In many jurisdictions, any assets and debts accumulated during a marriage are viewed as joint property, irrespective of the individual listed as the owner.
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Frequently Asked Questions
A set of forms must be completed to initiate the divorce process in California. These include a summons, which notifies the other spouse of the need to appear in court and outlines the division of joint property; a petition that provides information about the marriage and requests specific outcomes; and a child custody and visitation application if minor children are involved. It is essential to ensure that all information provided is accurate, and it is recommended to seek the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer. Once the forms are completed, they must be filed with the court clerk in the appropriate county. In case a temporary court order is necessary for child support, spousal support, bill payments, or protection against domestic violence, additional forms might be needed.
In California, when initiating a divorce, the law requires that one’s spouse be informed of the situation. This is typically done by providing them with copies of the papers submitted to the court. The petition and summons service can be done by mail or in person. If the spouse does not reside in California, service can be done via certified mail with a return receipt requested.
To satisfy state requirements for divorce, service of process is the formal method of delivering official copies of divorce papers to the spouse. This ensures that the spouse is aware of the filing of the divorce petition, often referred to as a “complaint,” and is given a chance to respond to any requests or claims made in it. Before a divorce can proceed, courts typically require proof of having fulfilled the service of process requirements. In certain circumstances, it is possible to forego formal service of process.
A process server in Carmichael is an individual who is legally authorized to hand-deliver divorce papers to one’s spouse. Generally, the process server is responsible for filing the necessary paperwork with the court and verifying that the documents have been delivered. According to the National Association of Professional Process Servers, the average cost of their services ranges from $85 to $150. Additional fees may apply if a process server must travel a long distance or make multiple attempts to serve the spouse.
For those who cannot afford a process server, some states offer a procedure to waive the sheriff’s service fees for those eligible for public assistance programs such as Medicaid, SSI, or SNAP. To qualify for this fee waiver, one must typically apply and demonstrate their eligibility for a filing fee waiver and other costs associated with the case. The civil clerk’s office or courthouse self-help desk can provide more information regarding the necessary forms and documents to begin the process.
In an ideal situation, the documents should be personally delivered to the receiving spouse by the process server, who should then obtain an “acceptance of service” form signed by the spouse. However, if the spouse refuses to sign the form, the process server must complete a “return of service” form, which includes their name, the date and time of service, the name of the court documents delivered, and a statement verifying the accuracy of the form. The completed form should be submitted to the court in person or by mail. In some states, certified mail with a return receipt requested can also be used for service, whereby the receiving spouse will have to sign the documents, and a copy of the signed receipt will be sent to the filing spouse.
If the other spouse cannot be located or is evading service, the filing spouse may submit a motion and affidavit of attempted service to the court, seeking permission to use an alternative form of service. The court may then grant an order allowing the filing spouse to use service by publication, which entails publishing a notice of the divorce in a newspaper that the spouse is likely to read. The court’s order will specify the duration that the notice must remain in the newspaper, and the filing spouse will typically be responsible for placing and covering the cost of the ad. If the filing spouse cannot afford the ad, they may request alternative options from the court.
In several jurisdictions, uncontested divorce documents require notarization. To accomplish this, the easiest method is to take advantage of the free notary services provided by most banks. Alternatively, UPS and FedEx stores also offer the same service for a fee. The spouse must present valid photo identification from a government agency and sign the documents in front of the notary public. The notary public is responsible only for witnessing the signing of the papers and is not expected to interpret their content. If the couple has minor children, the responding spouse must sign the parenting plan, which may sometimes form part of the settlement agreement. Notarization may also be necessary for these documents.
California law presumes that all court records should be available to the public. This means that any member of the public can access most divorce cases. However, the details of a divorce case may include personal information that can be redacted, or the records can be sealed if both parties can give a valid reason for such an action.
The electronic docket of a divorce case can be accessed online, including the case number, filing date, parties’ names, and a list of pleadings. However, the actual filings will not be available online and must be accessed at the courthouse where the divorce was filed. Documents and orders issued by the judge in the case can be obtained in either informational or authorized copies.
During a divorce, confidential information such as social security numbers and financial account numbers must be redacted from any filing. The parties may also agree to keep some information confidential (e.g., bank statements, credit card records, business valuations, etc.). Sealed records are rarely issued, but a party may petition the court to seal individual documents or the entire case if it includes health information, identifies minor children, or if domestic violence is alleged.
To avoid public disclosure, couples can resolve their issues in a confidential settlement agreement and ask the judge to issue a divorce decree. This decree will cover the main points of the divorce, but the underlying records will remain confidential.