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Divorce Happ Law Group P.C.’s Divorce Lawyer is a Certified Family Law Specialist Experienced in All Aspects of Divorce Proceedings Including Division of Property, Child Custody, Visitation, Child Support and Temporary Spousal Support
Happ Law Group P.C. provides helpful and knowledgeable representation to men and women going through or considering divorce. Whether it is aggressive representation in a high-conflict case or the collaboration necessary to resolve a low-conflict or uncontested case, Happ Law Group P.C. is the right firm for the job.
For more information on the divorce process in the State of California, please click on the links below:
- Initiating a Divorce Proceeding
To start a divorce proceeding in California, one party must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (“Petition”).
The Petition requires the filing party to provide certain statistical information (e.g. date of marriage, date of separation), whether there are any children of the marriage and a listing of property which the filing party believes is either separate property/debt or community property/ debt.
The Petition also requires the filing party to check boxes for the issues (besides termination of marital status) which he/she would like to the Court to resolve, such as child custody and visitation, spousal support, attorney fees and property division.
- Temporary Orders
Since the average time to complete a divorce can be a year to a year and a half, a party may seek temporary (or “pendente lite”) orders on issues such as:
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Attorney fees
- Temporary and exclusive use and possession of certain assets (e.g. the parties residence)
- Payment of certain debts
Absent a subsequent modification, temporary orders will remain in place until a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is entered.
- Financial Disclosures
By law, both parties must exchange Declarations of Disclosure twice during the divorce proceedings. The parties can opt to waive the second disclosure (the “Final” Declaration of Disclosure); however, the parties must complete their first disclosure (the “Preliminary” Declaration of Disclosure).
A Declaration of Disclosure is comprised of the following:
- Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140)
- Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
- A statement — which is most often a Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142) — identifying all assets in which the party has or may have an interest, and all liabilities for which the party is or may be liable, regardless of the characterization of the asset or liability as community, quasi-community, or separate
Oftentimes, the opposing party or a third party (e.g. a financial institution, employer, or other witness) has possession of information or documents which is vital to our analysis and litigation of issues in our client’s divorce, child custody or other family law proceeding.
After consulting with our client to discuss the cost/benefit of pursuing certain discovery, Happ Law Group P.C. utilizes the appropriate type of discovery (such as depositions, interrogatories, document demands and subpoenas), to obtain all of the information necessary to provide the best advocacy possible for our client’s positions.
- Reaching a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage
A divorce proceeding is completed when a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage (“Judgment”) is entered. A Judgment can be reached in one of three ways:
Default: When a spouse fails to file and serve a response to the Petition within thirty days of service, the spouse who filed the Petition can seek entry of default and a Default Judgment. A Default Judgment is one which is entered without the input of the non-responding spouse; however, the Court may not make any orders beyond those which were requested in the Petition.
Settlement: Most spouses in a divorce case reach a settlement on all issues — most often to avoid the time and cost of conducting a trial. Prior to setting a trial date, the Court requires both spouses to participate in a Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC). An MSC is an informal hearing with a settlement conference judge (not a judge, per se, but a local attorney who has met certain education and experience requirements). The settlement conference judge will meet with both spouses and their divorce attorneys to help facilitate an agreement on all issues in their case. If the spouses are able to reach an agreement, the agreement will be read into the court record and a written Judgment will be drafted. If the spouses are unable to reach an agreement on all issues, the Court will set a trial date.
Trial: A trial is an evidentiary hearing which addresses all issues which the spouses were unable to reach an agreement on. Prior to the trial date, each spouse must prepare a trial brief, list of proposed exhibits, list of proposed witnesses and, if necessary, motions in limine (to exclude certain evidence). During trial, it is necessary to conduct thorough direct and cross examination of lay, and sometimes expert, witnesses, properly introduce documentary evidence and provide the Court with an effective and persuasive closing argument. After the trial has concluded, the Court will rule on all pending issues and direct one party to prepare the Judgment.