2020 is shaping up to be a popular year for divorce filings in California. If you are among those considering parting ways with your spouse, read on for four tips for starting your divorce.
1. Research and decide how you want to complete the divorce:
There are many ways to complete a divorce. You can opt for doing it yourselves, using a mediator, collaborative divorce, or litigation. There are benefits and drawbacks to each of these options. With do it yourself divorce you may save money initially in attorney’s fees but make a big mistake in your Judgment if you don’t know the law. Mediation can work very well for couples who are able to come to agreements with a neutral mediator. Collaborative divorce is lot like mediation in that you don’t go to court, but with the advantage of having your own attorney to represent you. Litigation is often what people think of when they picture divorce in California. Court can be a strong option with an unreasonable spouse, but it comes with a high price tag.
2. Make sure your financial documents are in order:
When you are first filing the petition or response, start gathering your financial statements for bank accounts, mortgages, retirements, credit card bills, the past two years taxes, and any other assets or debts you may have. You will only have 60 days after serving the petition or filing the response to finish your preliminary declarations of disclosure; and having the documents already in hand will make the process much smoother and less stressful.
3. Think about how you want to serve the petition:
You don’t have to have a process server jump out of the bushes at your spouse like you see on television and in movies. In California a petition can be mailed to the other party or his/her attorney with a form called the notice of acknowledgement and receipt. This allows your spouse to receive the mail, sign the form, and return it to you without the drama of being served at home or work.
4. Set the tone:
Most importantly, you can set the tone for the dissolution process. You have the opportunity to choose to be respectful and reasonable, even if your spouse does not choose that route. Instead of marching off to court immediately to file a series of motions, consider choosing a divorce option that doesn’t utilize the courts like mediation or collaborative divorce. Or if your spouse has already filed motions with the court, consider not throwing barbs throughout your own pleadings. The court will see that you are trying to resolve the issues without slinging mud. This will serve you well throughout the proceedings and even after the divorce.