HOW LONG WILL DIVORCE TAKE - HOW MUCH WILL DIVORCE COST?
“Divorce isn't such a tragedy. A tragedy is staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce.”
― Jennifer Weiner, Fly Away Home
WHAT IS A DIVORCE?
How long will divorce take - How much will divorce cost
These are the first two questions usually asked of a divorce attorneys.
Marriage is a contract. Divorce is just a lawsuit to terminate that contract. A lawsuit starts with a plaintiff filing a "complaint" and the court issuing a "summons," which is a command to the defendant to appear in the case, and the plaintiff serves the summons and complaint on the "defendant." The defendant responds to the complaint with a document called an "answer."
In a divorce, the plaintiff is called the "petitioner," the complaint is called a "petition," the defendant is called the "respondent," and the summons is called, well, the summons.
FILING THE PETITION
A divorce begins with the petitioner paying the $435 filing fee and filing the petition. Just like any other lawsuit, the court will issue a summons and the petitioner will serve the respondent with the summons, the petition and a blank response form.
The petition contains the basic information about the marriage: The date of the marriage, the date the parties separated, the names of any children of the parties, the grounds for divorce (usually "irreconcilable differences") and other miscellaneous items like a request for attorneys, fees and a request to have a maiden name restored.
In order to file for divorce in Orange County (or any county in California), one of the parties must have been a resident of Orange County for three months immediately before filing the case and a resident of California for six months prior to filing. If the parties do not meet the residence requirements, an experienced Orange County divorce attorney will file a petition for "legal separation," which has no residency requirement, and will "amend" the petition to seek dissolution of the marriage once the residency requirements are met.
Once the petition is filed, the respondent has 30 days to file the response to the petition (but extensions of time to file are routinely granted).
WHAT HAPPENS ONCE THE PETITION AND RESPONSE ARE FILED?
After the petition and response are filed, the parties are required to disclose to each other all of their income, property, assets and debts. In addition to the required disclosures, each party usually serves interrogatories (written questions to the other party), request for admissions (requests that the other party admit to certain facts), request for the production of documents (such as tax returns, business records, pay records, bank records and the like) and often will take one or more depositions of the other party and witnesses.
WHEN WILL THE COURT SET SPOUSAL AND CHILD SUPPORT?
Once the petition is filed, assuming there are children, either party may file a request for a temporary order setting child and/or spousal support. In almost all cases, temporary spousal and child support are determined according to a formula. The parties relative incomes and the amount of time the children spend with each party determine how much temporary support is ordered.
HOW MUCH WILL DIVORCE COST AND HOW LONG DOES DIVORCE TAKE?
If two parties want to be divorced and can agree on everything, a divorce can easily be done is six months and need not cost a fortune. Sadly, the decision to divorce is not usually mutual and, even when it is, it at least one of the parties usually feels betrayed in is often still in love with the other party. In such cases, one party may desire to punish the other party, may seek to control the other party by means of money or child custody and/or has so little trust in the other party that they believe the are hidden assets or income (and, often, there are).
A divorce attorney that is looking out for your interests will counsel you to focus on your bottom line and not waste money when the effort will cost more than it returns.
At the end of the day, you know your spouse far better than your lawyer will, so you can gauge for yourself whether your divorce will be easy or difficult.