What Are the Divorce Steps?

Once your divorce action is started, you and your spouse will have to go through a series of steps and procedures. If you are the one that files for divorce, first your divorce attorney will prepare what is called a Petition and Summons.

If you live in Los Angeles County, your attorney files these two documents with the clerk at Los Angeles Superior Court.

Will you have to serve your spouse with the divorce papers yourself? Fortunately no, you cannot serve your own spouse divorce papers. Your spouse will receive copies of the Petition and Summons, as well as a blank Response, however, these papers have to be served by someone other than you who is over 18 years of age.

What is the Summons? The Summons is a document that officially notifies your husband or wife that you are filing for divorce; it also notifies him or her that they have 30 days to file their Response.

In your spouse's Response, he or she has the opportunity to explain which matters need to be addressed in the divorce, such as child custody, child support and spousal support.

Once a divorce is filed with the court, these are the steps that many couples will go through:

  • The spouses complete their disclosure declarations, where they provide detailed financial information about their income, assets, and debts. The disclosures are officially delivered to each spouse and the court requires proof of delivery.
  • Either spouse may ask the judge to issue temporary orders for child custody, support, visitation, attorney fees, etc.
  • The spouses work together and with their respective attorneys to reach a settlement agreement.
  • If the couple cannot reach a settlement agreement, they go to trial and a judge decides for them.
  • If you serve your spouse and they neglect to file a Response, your attorney can request a default hearing for the purpose of obtaining a divorce.
  • A couple can have a judgement entered at any time after they file for divorce, however, their divorce cannot be final until after the spouse has been served the divorce papers, and after it's been at least 6 months since the divorce was filed.

Not every couple needs to follow all of these steps, for example, you may be able to reach an agreement quickly without needing any temporary orders, especially if you are on good terms with your soon-to-be-ex.

To learn more about the divorce process, contact a Los Aneles divorce attorney at Claery & Hammond, LLP!