Divorce in California

California: Land of its own

April 21, 2011

By Mike Hinshaw

California has state laws that not only recognize traditionally married couples but also recognizes domestic partners.

Also, California law allows a Respondent to reply to a cause for separation in such a way as to escalate the case into full-blown divorce proceedings. In other words, it’s not a given that “the one who files first wins.”

Let’s look at the state Web page about separation:

This action can be filed by a married person who wishes to maintain the marital status but separate and resolve all of other issues of the marriage. The Court will issue orders for custody and visitation of the minor children of marriage, child support, spousal support, and confirm or award community separate property assets and debts. If the other party, Respondent, responds to the paperwork and requests a dissolution of marriage, the Court will grant the dissolution of marriage. Once an action is filed by a Petitioner, the Respondent must be personally served with specific paperwork. If the Respondent fails to file the necessary responding paperwork within thirty (30) days of service, the Petitioner may request an entry of default. Once the default is entered, the Petitioner can complete the legal separation proceeding without the participation of the Respondent.

If the Respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court. The action considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court’s signature.

It’s basically the same language as that used in divorce proceedings, which equates to all civil suits: Essentially, once you have been served? You better respond.

Now, what’s really different about California law is the legal status of “domestic partners,” which is a trouble-point for many Mainstream Americans.

That being said, we must insist upon the  ideal of representing the  client, to the utmost,  lawful and ethical way imaginable.

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