Divorce & Domestic Partnership

Divorce is one the hardest things any family must endure. The process can be daunting and emotionally overwhelming for anyone especially for couples with children. The first step to getting through a divorce is understanding the process. Having an experienced attorney to help you navigate the system and assure your interests are protected is invaluable. The following discussion will help you understand the basics of the divorce process and help you identify potential issues in your circumstances. In California a Dissolution of a Domestic Partnership follows the same procedures and the parties have nearly identical rights and obligations as in a dissolution of marriage.

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    Step 1:

    The first step in any dissolution case is to file the documents with the court to initiate the proceedings called the Petition and Summons. Depending on your circumstances various judicial council forms must accompany the petition and it is important these forms are filled out correctly as they set the stage for the entire litigation.After filing the Petition your case will be assigned a Superior Court case number, a judge, and a court room. Then you must serve the other party which can be accomplished by personal delivery or under certain circumstances by mailing them to the other party.

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    Step 2 (a):

    Step 2 is somewhat unique to family law cases in which the parties frequently seek what we call temporary, interim, or pendente lite orders from the court before the case is ready to be finalized.Interim orders are routinely requested for issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and contribution to attorneys fees. Less common but still available are interim orders for the sale of community property or appointment of a joint expert.Interim orders are sought by filing a Request for Order commonly abbreviated RFO with the Court.Interim orders are an important part of the process as they can provide parties with financial security needed by obtaining support orders and the stability of child custody orders. Interim orders are also very helpful to resolve some of the more contentious issues in a dissolution case early in the litigation which help promote negotiated settlements; thus, avoiding a lengthy and costly trial.

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    Step 2(b):

    Often occurring simultaneously with seeking interim orders is the information gathering stage. California law requires divorcing parties to exchange what is called declarations of disclosure in the early stages of the litigation outlining all assets, debts, income, and expenses of each party.In the event one party chooses to hide marital assets or refuses to honestly disclose all pertinent information, parties may also choose to engage in discovery to seek out accurate and full information related to the extent and nature of each spouse’s assets and debts. Discovery includes demands for documents, special written questions called interrogatories, depositions of the other party or third parties, subpoena financial documents from third parties such as banks, retirement administrators, and employers. At times a private investigator may be necessary to obtain information relevant to your case. The staff at Mesnik Law Group has handled numerous complicated matters necessitating discovery and informational gathering techniques and has the experience to insure all accurate information is available to you in your case.

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    Step 3:

    The final stage of every case is finalization which occurs in one of two ways. 1) Negotiated settlement, or 2) Trial. The majority of divorce cases are finalized by a negotiated agreement. The experienced and ethical attorneys at Mesnik Law Group always put settlement first to help our clients avoid the very costly and lengthy process of trial.Trial, however, is not always avoidable due to the complexity of the situation or even due to an unreasonable party or opposing attorney. Divorce trials tend to be lengthy and complex. A competent and experienced attorney will be the key to your success at trial.Contact us for more information about your case and for a free consultation.

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