On August 11th, 2023 in
Navigating a divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences of an individual’s life. Making the decision to dissolve your marriage is difficult, and this is especially true when children are involved. Between the emotional hardships and financial considerations, you may be left feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn for help with filing for divorce in Los Angeles. Perhaps you have questions about how to proceed and how to best protect your family.
At Diaz Law Firm, we understand the sensitive nature of divorce cases and do not take these matters lightly. Our team will work alongside you to understand your needs and tailor a legal solution to help you meet your goals. All our decisions and recommendations are made with the best interests of you and your family in mind. To learn more about how we can help, consider connecting with us at (626) 261-0402 today.
What to Do Before Filing for Divorce in Los Angeles
As it relates to filing for divorce, preparation is the key to success. There are several actions you should take before filing for divorce that can help prepare you for your desired outcome and streamline the process of dissolving your marriage. These actions include:
- Understand the extent of your marital estate. California is a community property state, meaning all property, assets, and debts acquired during the course of your marriage are considered jointly owned by you and your spouse. Because of this standard, the property is typically divided equally between spouses during a divorce. To help ensure this process is as smooth as possible, itemizing all community property can be helpful. Likewise, you should also identify any property that was acquired before the marriage as well as any property that was gifted or inherited by either spouse, as this is generally considered separate property.
- Organize financial documents. In many marriages, one spouse is primarily responsible for managing the household finances. If possible, obtain copies of key documents such as real estate deeds, loan information, retirement accounts, and pay stubs for monthly income. It is important to gather as much information as possible about your total net worth and monthly expenses, as this information will become critically important during the divorce.
- Consider custody arrangements. Custody is an oftentimes contentious issue during a divorce, leading to disputes or drawn-out court battles that can prolong the process. It can be helpful to keep track of your daily involvement in the lives of your children. Are you the primary caregiver? What is your daily routine with the children? Your relationship and involvement with your children will be evaluated during the divorce process in order to determine custody arrangements, so compiling information about your children’s health, education, and routine can be beneficial.
- Be cognizant of your online presence. Divorce can become tumultuous and social media postings can be used as evidence down the line. Consider keeping intentions to end the marriage between you and your spouse, and ensure that any compromising social media posts are deleted. These issues may seem minor but your online presence can greatly impact your case, especially as it relates to custody arrangements.
- Plan ahead for your safety and financial well-being. If you believe that your spouse may react poorly to the divorce, consider planning ahead for your safety and financial independence before filing for divorce.
Does Filing for Divorce First Make a Difference?
California is considered a “no-fault” state for divorce, meaning that it is not necessary to cite a reason for seeking divorce, other than irreconcilable differences. As such, being the first spouse to file for divorce does not make a substantial difference in the outcome of the case. There are some advantages to filing first, however, such as:
- The ability to decide where the divorce will be conducted. If you and your spouse each reside in different counties or areas, filing for divorce first provides you with the ability to choose the location for all court proceedings. If you are considering filing for divorce in Los Angeles, for instance, you may want to file papers with the Superior Court of Los Angeles.
- The opportunity to present your side of the case first. This allows you to calmly share your side of the story and offer any necessary evidence to the court without the pressure of immediately responding to your spouse.
- The ability to withdraw the petition. The spouse who files first also has the right to withdraw the petition, if necessary.
- Maintaining the status quo. Once you file for divorce, your spouse is prohibited from changing your children’s schedules and their place of residence.
How to File for Divorce in Los Angeles
There are specific steps that are followed when filing for divorce in Los Angeles. While the process may differ slightly depending on the unique circumstances of your case, the following is a general framework for how to file for divorce:
- Fill out all necessary forms, including the Petition (FL -100) and the Summons (FL-110). There is additional documentation required if you and your spouse have shared children.
- File with the appropriate court and pay the filing fee. California Courts offer an online tool to help identify the court in your area.
- Serve the papers to your spouse. You cannot serve the papers yourself, but a county sheriff, a professional process server, or a person you know can deliver the papers.
- Wait for your spouse to respond to the papers. Your spouse has 30 days to respond to the papers. If your spouse does not respond, you can still move forward with the divorce proceeding.
How Can an Attorney Make a Difference When Filing for Divorce?
While filing for divorce in Los Angeles without an attorney is possible for some couples, it is a risk that should be avoided. There are numerous legal challenges that arise during a divorce proceeding and speaking to an attorney can make a great difference in the way you approach your case. Hiring legal representation during your divorce can be advantageous if any of the following are true:
- Your divorce involves complex financial matters and/or minor children
- There is a history of abuse or domestic violence
- Your spouse has hired an attorney
- You believe that your spouse may be deceptive or could be hiding assets
Your attorney will work with you to understand your situation and your financial circumstances, offering tailored solutions to help you achieve your goals. They will ensure that all paperwork is filed on time and according to the standards set forth in California’s Family Code. In many cases, seeking assistance from an experienced attorney is one of the most ideal ways to protect your interests and ensure that your divorce proceeds as smoothly and peacefully as possible.
Hiring an Experienced Firm to File Your Divorce in Los Angeles
If you are considering filing for divorce, we understand that you may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed. However, having an experienced family law firm in your corner to offer support and guidance can make all the difference. Our team of knowledgeable attorneys has years of experience filing for divorce in Los Angeles and navigating even the most complex issues related to ending a marriage. To speak with us in greater detail about your situation, consider contacting Diaz Law Firm at (626) 261-0402 today.