Sacramento Divorce Process
Filling for divorce in Sacramento involves a straightforward process. The first stages of the divorce include opening a case with the local court and providing the respondent (opposing spouse) with notice of the case. Next, the couple must exchange financial disclosures. Finally, a marital settlement agreement must be drafted and attached to the final judgment forms to complete the divorce process.
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File and Serve Divorce Papers
The first step in the divorce process is to file a petition for divorce. To begin the divorce proceeding, California requires a Petition- Marriage/Domestic Partnership (FL-100) and Summons (FL-110) to be filed with the court and served on the opposing party. If there are children, the court requires a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (FL-105) to be filed as well.
Sacramento County offers workshops, located at the courthouse on how to begin a divorce proceeding. The workshops are on Tuesdays and a reservation is required to attend. The forms need to be filed at the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Court and there is a waivable $435 filing fee. Once the forms have been filed, a person over the 18 who is not a party must serve the other spouse. The responding spouse will have 30 days to respond to the petition.
Requests Temporary Orders
While the divorce case is pending, if one spouse is seeking child support, spousal support, a custody order, or any other kind of court order he/she will need to file a Request for Order (Form FL-300). If he/she seeks support, an Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) is required. Requests for Orders can be filed with the initial petition or at any time during the divorce. There is a $60 fee for each order.
File Financial Disclosures
Within 60 days of filing the petition or response, each spouse must file a Preliminary Financial Disclosure. The Preliminary Financial Disclosure is mandatory, and the divorce cannot be finalized without one. If the case goes to trial, each spouse must file a Final Financial Disclosure. The Preliminary and Final disclosures can be combined into one filing.
Negotiate a Settlement
To finalize a divorce, the couple will need to settle several issues: division of marital property and debts; child custody and support; and spousal support, if needed. Attorneys can assist the couple with the negotiation. The couple can also use a neutral mediator to assist them with coming to an agreement. Once the couple has agreed on all of the issues, they or one of their attorneys can draft a settlement agreement. The couple can submit the agreement to the court, and if a judge approves the settlement, the divorce becomes final.
If the couple cannot come to an agreement, then the case will need to go to trial. One spouse must request a trial date. Each side will be able to present evidence, call witnesses, and hire experts. The spouses must attend a mandatory settlement conference to try and resolve the case. If there is still no agreement, then there will be a trial. Each side will be able to present evidence and call expert witnesses. The judge will rule any outstanding issues, and once the judge makes his/her ruling, the divorce will be final (additional documents must be filed with the court to obtain a signed judgment).
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