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RESPONSE TO A PETITION FOR DIVORCE          

    RESPONSE FORM: When you file a response to a Petition for divorce, it lets the Judge know that you are contesting the divorce, and on what grounds. Judges can't try to resolve your controversy unless they know some of the facts. 

    If you have been served with a Petition for Dissolution, one of your first decisions is  whether you are going to seek legal assistance or try to handle the legal aspects yourself. It is advisable to at least speak with an attorney before attempting to represent yourself. It is quite possible that yours may be one of the "simple" divorces, and the attorney can speed things along and actually save you money in the long run. This is your decision, and even if you decide to represent yourself - you can always change your mind later.

    There are cases, however, when both parties are in agreement and what is called a summary dissolution can be obtained relatively easily. Actually, in many cases, the Judge does not even have to become involved. Furthermore, in most uncontested divorces, the whole thing can be usually be accomplished by mail.

IF YOU WISH TO FILE FOR A SUMMARY DISSOLUTION:

You must meet California’s residency requirements?

a. Lived in California for the last 6 months

b. Lived in the county where you plan to file for the last 3 months. If you have both lived in California for six months, but in different counties for three months, you can file in either county. (You do not have to meet residency requirement for a legal separation or an annulment. Therefore, if you don't meet the residency requirements, you can first file for a legal separation, and then file a revised Petition when you meet the requirements.)

MEDIATION:

You and your soon-to-be ex-partner can draft a settlement agreement outlining all your financial assets and stating how they are to be distributed. Insofar as children, however, parents must go to mediation if they disagree about child custody or support. In many cases the court automatically becomes involved in the divorce where there are children because it is one of the responsibilities of the court to look out for the welfare of minors. Thus, frequently the parents must visit a court mediator. Mediators are trained to help the parents draft a parenting plan. A court mediator is free. And, if there has been any kind of domestic violence, you can bring a support person to mediation and ask the mediator to meet with you separately without your spouse.

After you agree on a parenting plan, the mediator will write it up so that the judge can use it to issue the plan as a court order. If you can’t agree, the judge may ask the mediator to recommend a decision.

If you are unable to resolve some of the financial issues, mediation can also be used for that purpose. If you like, you could also use a private mediator - however, their fees can be quite expensive.

CHECKLIST for FORMS:

1.     You can obtain the following forms from the Clerk's Office in the Superior Court, or download these and other forms from the Internet at the California Judicial Council site.

        With A Marital Settlement Agreement:

        Summons

        Petition

        Declaration re: Minors

        Counseling Statement

        Certificate of Assignment (Local Court form)

        You can do your Preliminary Disclosure documents now and serve with above docs.

2. Decide method of service. 

3. Respondent can file a Response now or the Appearance & Waiver and no Response. If no Response is filed, it indicates that the person who was served the Petition does not have an objection to the Dissolution.

        Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. Petitioner MUST, Respondent SHOULD.

Fill out and serve the following, but they are not filed in Court.

        List of Assets & Debts. Served, not filed.

        Income & Expense Declarations. Served, not filed.

The following are filed in Court.

        Proof of Service by Mail. Signed and filed in Court.

        Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure mailed to spouse and Proof of Service filed in Court.

4. When you have a Marital Settlement Agreement:

        Income & Expense forms

        Final Declaration of Disclosure (can waive in Marital Settlement Agreement)

        List of Assets & Debts

        Declaration of Service of Final Disclosure

        Proof of Service (disclosure)

If a Response was filed:

        Appearance & Waiver. Signed by both parties. If Proof of Service was not previously filed, file it now with the original Summons.

If no Response was filed:

        Request for Default. Attach a stamped envelope addressed to Respondent with Court Clerk’s return address. Just before filing, mail a copy to Respondent.

Without a Marital Settlement Agreement:

Property Declaration

Income & Expense Forms

Note: If there is no Marital Settlement Agreement, and no Response, Petitioner can waive the Final Declaration of Disclosure either in the Declaration for Uncontested Dissolution or at a hearing.

If no Response - See above

5. Judgment. If you have a Marital Settlement Agreement, file it now along with the Judgment.

Wage Assignment Order. Only where spousal or child support is involved.

Notice of Rights and Responsibilities. Where there are children, attach to Judgment.

Notice of Entry of Judgment. File with stamped envelopes addressed to each party with the return address of the Clerk's Office.

Can attend hearing or mail in the Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution.

a. Mailing the Declaration. Mail to Clerk together with Income & Expense, Final Declaration of Disclosure, List of Assets and Debts, Declaration of Service of Final Disclosure, Proof of Service by Mail. Include original Summons if not filed already.

b. Attend the Hearing. Get a date for the hearing. Some counties have a local form to request a hearing. Go to the Court, and take all your papers with you.

If the Judgment orders support or anything to be done in the future, serve a copy on your ex-spouse by personal service and file a Proof of Service with the Court.

The above information was culled from the Web sites of the Family Law Departments of Superior Court in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties in California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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