Next Steps after Divorce Papers Are Served

Next Steps after Divorce Papers Are Served

Date: May 12, 2023
In: Divorce

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Next Steps after Divorce Papers Are Served

If you have just filed for divorce or been served with divorce papers, you probably have a lot of questions, including what to expect next. How your divorce proceeds after the papers are filed often depends upon whether or not you and your spouse are pursuing an uncontested divorce, which means you intend to resolve your divorce terms between yourselves with focused guidance from your respective California divorce attorneys. If, on the other hand, you and your ex are not able to come to an agreement on your own, then it is considered a contested divorce, which requires the court’s intervention and will take a somewhat different path. 

Divorce Terms

To start, it may be helpful to identify the terms of the divorce agreement that need to be settled – regardless of whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. These usually include the following:

  • Child custody, which is divided into legal custody (decision-making authority) and physical custody (where children will live)
  • Parenting time plans, which determine when each parent will spend time with the children (formerly called visitation)
  • Child support
  • The division of your marital property, which is necessary for all California divorces
  • Alimony (or spousal support)

Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders

It is important to know that once the divorce papers – whether contested or uncontested – have been served, California automatic temporary restraining orders (ATROs) go into effect. These are listed on the back of the divorce summons, and they set the ground rules that both parties must abide by as the divorce proceeds. These orders, in part, are intended to provide financial security for both parties during the divorce, helping to ensure that neither takes financial liberties that could harm the other. 

Next Steps in an Uncontested Divorce

After the divorce papers have been filed by one spouse and served to the other, the spouse who has been served must file a timely response, and then the matter of settling the terms of your divorce begins. This can include any combination of the following:

  • Negotiating back and forth between yourselves – under the guidance of your respective divorce attorneys
  • Allowing your respective attorneys to negotiate on behalf of each of you
  • Engaging in some form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), like mediation 

The basic course of an uncontested divorce includes:

  • The preliminary declaration of disclosure after service, which is a financial declaration regarding community and separate assets
  • The settlement communication in which both sides come together to hammer out the divorce details
  • The final declaration of disclosure 
  • The divorce judgment 

Next Steps in a Contested Divorce

In a contested divorce, the spouse who is served with divorce papers must file their response with the court in accordance with the time limitations. If no response is filed, the case may proceed in default, without input from the spouse who was served.

While the process for a contested divorce is similar to the process for an uncontested divorce, either spouse – or both spouses – may seek temporary orders for the following while the contested divorce is pending:

  • Child support
  • Request for attorney’s fees
  • Temporary alimony
  • Child custody and visitation orders
  • Temporary orders regarding property

Additionally, contested divorces generally include a formal discovery process in which both sides request information from the other in preparation for litigation.

Call an Experienced California Divorce Attorney for the Help You Need Today

Even when both spouses agree on most or all of the terms of a divorce settlement, the process can be complex and confusing. The practiced divorce attorneys at Miranda, Magden & Miranda, LLP – proudly serving Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties – are well prepared to harness their imposing legal skill and experience in pursuit of your case’s most favorable resolution. To learn more, please don’t wait to contact us today.

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