San Diego One Day Divorce Program
[NOTE: Many sources relied on for this article said that the program began March 1, 2015 and was funded for three years. Most of the links to information about the One Day Divorce on the San Diego court’s website do not work.]
One of the chief complaints about the divorce process in San Diego County is that it takes too long. As a solution to this problem, San Diego County Superior Court introduced a “One Day Divorce” pilot program which began on March 1, 2015 with funding from a grant from the San Diego County Bar Foundation. San Diego County is the second county in California to introduce a One Day Divorce Program- Sacramento being the first. The One Day Divorce program is available to couples living in San Diego County who are not represented by an attorney which accounts for approximately 70% of all divorcing couples.
Can you really be divorced in one day?
“One Day Divorce” is a bit of a misnomer. A couple cannot walk into the courthouse and file for divorce, and walk out divorced. To qualify for a One Day Divorce, the couple must meet specific criteria. The couple must have filed for divorce over 6 months ago. (There is no getting around the mandatory 6 month waiting period in California.) A key requirement is that neither spouse can be represented by an attorney. Another requirement for the One Day Divorce program is that the Summons and the Petition must have been served on the respondent. Additionally, a Proof of Service of Summons or a Response must have been filed with the court. Most importantly, both spouses must be in agreement on all issues, such as the division of assets, who is responsible for paying debts, the child custody and visitation schedule, amount of child support to be paid, and the amount and duration of spousal support to be paid. If the divorce is a default divorce, i.e. when the responding party has not filed a response and is not participating in the divorce, then both spouses must being in agreement on all issues is not a requirement for the One Day Divorce program.
Set an Appointment to Begin the Process
If a couple wishes to utilize the One Day Divorce program, they need to make an appointment with the court. They will meet with a family law expert. The family law expert will discuss the terms of the settlement. The family expert will then assist the couple with the paperwork required to finalize the divorce. Once the paperwork is complete, the couple will appear in court before a judge that same day. If all goes as planned, when they leave the courthouse that day, they will have a judgment and the divorce will be finalized.
Key Advantages of the One Day Divorce Program
One of the chief advantages to the One Day Divorce program is that it simplifies the process for couples who are attempting to navigate the process without an attorney. The amount of paperwork can be overwhelming, and the paperwork is confusing for people who are not experienced attorneys. If the paperwork is not completed correctly, the couple may need to start over or the process can drag on for even longer. Hiring an attorney is expensive, and many couples simply cannot afford an attorney. The family law expert can help the couple with the final paperwork, and will make sure it is completed correctly without the expenses of hiring a lawyer to handle the divorce paperwork.
Another advantage of the One Day Divorce program is that many more couples can qualify for the One Day Divorce program than the summary dissolution process. To qualify for the summary dissolution procedure the couple must have been married for less than 5 years. The couple cannot have any children and the wife cannot be pregnant. The couple cannot own real estate. Neither spouse can have debts over $5,000 (automobile debts are not included in this calculation). The total community property cannot exceed $33,000 and neither spouse can have separate property assets totaling more than $33,000 (automobiles are not included in this calculation). Lastly, spouses petitioning for summary dissolution waive their right to spousal support. Because the requirements for summary dissolution are so restrictive, very few couples qualify for it. On the other hand, the One Day Divorce program has no restrictions on the length of marriage, amount of debts, or amount of property. Spouses with children are eligible to use the One Day Divorce, and using One Day Divorce program will not waive a spouse’s right to spousal support.
Disadvantage of One Day Divorce Clinic
The primary disadvantage of a One Day Divorce is that neither party is represented by an attorney, so there is a chance that the settlement may not be fair to both parties. Ideally, the family law expert will prevent the spouses from coming to an agreement that is extremely one-sided, and a judge would reject such a settlement. Another disadvantage is that if the couple has questions about child support or spousal support, there is no one to answer their questions.
Another disadvantage of the San Diego One Day Divorce process is that it is not available for couples who have disagreements over child custody, property division, or any other issues that may arise during the divorce process, even if the couple does not have an attorney. Those couples will either need to use a mediator, an arbitrator, or have their case go to trial. Likewise, there are certain situations when a spouse will want to hire an attorney during the divorce process. If one or both spouses have a lot of assets, particularly if there are both separate property, community property, and commingled assets, then they will want to hire an attorney. If one spouse is hiding assets or trying to cheat the other, then a lawyer will be needed. None of these situations would be eligible for a One Day Divorce.
The San Diego One Day Divorce program is an alternative for couples who are splitting up amicably and do not have legal representation. This program helps take some of the confusion out of the divorce process, and can shorten the length of time it takes to finalize a divorce.
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