Important Steps to Take Before Filing Your Divorce Petition in California
The decision to end your marriage is likely to be one of the most impactful decisions you ever make, and it is not one you should make lightly. While it’s vital to take the appropriate time to consider your decision and its potential effects very carefully, it is equally important to consider the potential drawbacks of ending your marriage and the steps required for completing the process.
Many Americans have preconceived notions about divorce that do not entirely align with reality, and many others encounter unforeseen issues with their divorce cases they did not expect and did not know how to handle. Therefore, before you file a divorce petition, consider the following so you can approach this demanding situation with greater confidence.
Consider Your Alternatives to Divorce
Filing a divorce petition in California starts a very challenging process. It’s vital to refrain from filing your divorce petition until you are certain that your marriage needs to end. Some couples have vitriolic disagreements that compel some spouses to throw threats of divorce without regard for the consequences. In other cases, divorce is a subject that gradually becomes more realistic over time as a marriage deteriorates.
While it is technically possible to “cancel” divorce proceedings if you change your mind after filing a divorce petition, there is no guarantee your spouse will want to cancel your divorce proceedings if you have already taken formal steps toward ending your marriage. Wait to file your divorce petition until you and your spouse have thoroughly discussed the situation. For example, suppose you have both decided that your marriage is beyond the point of reconciliation, and the two of you agree that you would be better off divorced. In that case, it is time to proceed with your divorce petition and the preliminary steps of the divorce process.
Gather Necessary Documents and Financial Records
Once you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, both of you must prepare for the formal steps of the divorce process. One of the most challenging of these steps is property division. California state law enforces a community property statute, meaning that all marital assets and debts acquired by both spouses during their marriage are the equal property and responsibility of both spouses and must be decided equally in divorce proceedings.
Suppose you want to ensure a fair and equitable outcome to property division in your divorce. In that case, you must produce complete and accurate financial records for the property division process. Your divorce case will entail a complex process of identifying, characterizing, and valuing every asset, debt, and piece of property you and your spouse own. Taking the time necessary to be thorough with this process is essential for ensuring a fair property division in your divorce. Additionally, taking the time to gather all your essential records also protects your interests, in the long run, helping you avoid any accusations of hiding assets or obfuscating critical financial information.
Working with an experienced California divorce attorney is one of the best ways to approach this challenging stage of the divorce process. The average person may not know how to obtain all the records they will need for property division proceedings or may make other mistakes in compiling their financial disclosure packet. An attorney can help their client obtain all the records necessary for their property division proceedings and assist them in addressing any discrepancies that might arise.
Evaluate the Possibility of Alternative Dispute Resolution
If you have decided to end your marriage, it’s reasonable to feel like you need to brace yourself for a bitter and emotional court battle, but your divorce does not need to unfold this way. Alternative dispute resolution is a popular choice among divorcing couples throughout California, allowing spouses to maintain more control over the outcomes of their divorces. Mediation is the most popular form of alternative dispute resolution available for California divorces. This process involves both spouses, their respective attorneys, and a neutral mediator gathering to develop a mutually agreeable divorce resolution.
You must consider the potential of alternative dispute resolution very carefully as you prepare for your divorce. Even if you and your spouse cannot seem to agree on anything, both of you can take advantage of several practical benefits when you pursue alternative dispute resolution instead of proceeding directly to litigation. For example, suppose you and your spouse are unable to reach mutually agreeable terms on any aspect of your divorce through mediation. In that case, it is still possible to mediate as much of your divorce as possible before proceeding to court to handle the rest of your divorce case. This will ultimately save both of you a significant amount of time and money.
Consult an Experienced California Divorce Attorney
Perhaps the most important preliminary step you must take in your divorce process is consulting an experienced California divorce attorney. While it is technically possible to navigate a divorce case without legal representation, it presents many risks and challenges. You could unintentionally overlook critical aspects of financial disclosure or make other errors that lead to extended divorce proceedings. It’s also possible to make procedural errors with the court system that leave you at a disadvantage or skew the court’s ruling in your spouse’s favor. Whenever you attempt to handle a divorce without an attorney, you risk ending up with a divorce order that does not suit your needs or interests and negatively impacts your life for years to come.
Take the time to consult an experienced divorce lawyer before taking any formal steps in the divorce process. This will save you a tremendous amount of time, money, and frustration overall, as your attorney can provide valuable guidance tailored to your unique situation. Every marriage is unique; therefore, every divorce is unique as well. Bickford, Blado & Botros can provide the client-focused and comprehensive legal counsel you need to confidently navigate your divorce case. If you are ready to discuss an impending divorce with an experienced team of California divorce lawyers, contact us today to schedule a consultation and get the answers to your most pressing legal questions.
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