There are several procedures that occur in an Orange County divorce case after the initial divorce paperwork has been filed and the other spouse has been served. There are the three main ones
1. Temporary Orders
After the initial divorce paperwork has been filed with the court, either spouse may file for a “Request for Order” (RFO) hearing with the court requesting a hearing to decide temporary orders for child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and other orders while the divorce is pending. Other orders can involve temporary use of marital property, restraining orders and orders that one party pay the other party’s attorney fees and costs.
Whenever a Request for Order (RFO) hearing addressing temporary child custody and visitation issues are filed, the Court will order that the parties attend mediation at no cost through the court’s mediation department prior to the Request for Order hearing date. Although the law requires that the parents participate in mediation, there is no requirement that they reach an agreement.
2. Disclosure of The Spouses’ Financial Assets, Debts, Incomes and Expenses
The next step after service of the Summons and Petition for Marital Dissolution and the Response thereto is for both parties to complete and exchange their own “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure.”
Both parties in a California divorce are required to disclose detailed, accurate information to the other about their respective incomes, expenses, property (both marital and separate property), and all debts and obligations. These mutual disclosures are called the parties “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. These formal disclosures are signed under penalty of perjury. A Final Declaration of Disclosure can be completed at approximately the time of trial or settlement in the case, unless the parties mutually agree in writing to waive such final disclosure.
These Declarations of Disclosure consist of special forms required by the court, and except for proof that the parties served each other with such forms, these forms are otherwise not filed with the court. The 4 forms that generally comprise the Declaration of Disclosure are:
- Declaration of Disclosure (Form #FL-140)
- Income & Expense Declaration (Form #Fl-150)
- Schedule of Assets & Debts (Form #FL-142)
- Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (Form #FL-141)
The purpose of such financial disclosures is to make settlement negotiations easier to proceed because of the generally clear picture of the parties’ financial situation given by such formal disclosure. Moreover, it protects the parties in the event that either spouse failed to disclose all assets.
California law requires that the disclosure documents be completed and served twice, once at the beginning of the divorce (i.e. Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure) and then again near the end of the case immediately prior to trial or Judgment (i.e. Final Declaration of Disclosure). However, the parties can agree to waive service of the Final Declaration of Disclosure, as long as such waiver is in writing on the appropriate legal paperwork.
3. Legal Discovery
In divorces that require determinations of the fair market value of marital assets, community businesses, debts, and self-employment incomes for support purposes, “discovery” requests served on one or both spouses may be necessary. Such discovery requests can require responses to general and specific questions, production of documentation and other tangible items, and depositions of the parties or third parties.
Completion of the discovery process is generally necessary before a divorce case can be set for trial and can slow down the divorce process. However, such discovery is necessary to protect the parties’ rights and ensure a fair and reasonable division of the parties’ assets and debts.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Orange County divorce attorney Gerald Maggio at The Maggio Law Firm, by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com.