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Initial Stages of Divorce

Anyone getting ready to file a divorce should take care to learn what their options are, what alternatives are available, how to get started, and what to do next.

It is not uncommon for one spouse to be the financial manager during the marriage. If you are not the financial manager in your family, you will need to develop an understanding of your family’s financial picture. The critical issue in all divorce cases is typically the finances. He or she that controls or has access to all the financial information, including taxes, is in control of the case. You are not ready to file until you have all your financial information ready to go.
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Jurisdiction/Residency
To file for divorce in California you must have been a resident of the state for six (6) months, and a resident of county you're filing in for three (3) months.  If you are filing a Legal Separation the above requirements not required. ______________________________________________________________________________________

After Service of Divorce Papers [HTML]

These instructions are paramount to anyone who has just been served with divorce papers. 
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7 Options for Divorce [HTML] 
Most people, and most lawyers, do not know that a divorce doesn't have to be a courtroom battle. Read the 7 Options for Divorce to find out what your alternatives are. 
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Step-by-Step Guide to Divorce [HTML] 
A step-by-step guide to the divorce process.
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Divorce Glossary [HTML]

A glossary of the lawyer-speak you'll hear if you're going through a divorce.
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Date of Separation [HTML]
It is essential that you determine your date of separation. Failure to do so could greatly complicate the division of assets and debts.
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ATROs = Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders [HTML]
In the state of California, immediately upon filing the Summons and Petition for Divorce, the filing spouse, or Petitioner, is subject to ATROs. Immediately upon service of the Summons and Petition, the spouse served, or Respondent, is subject to these same ATROs. Read them carefully.  Violation of these orders could lead to fine, punishment, loss of assets, and/or jail time.
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Fiduciary Duty
 
You need to be aware of the mandatory disclosure requirements in the state of California and the imposition of new obligations and duties on the parties. The fiduciary duties found in family code section 721, 1100e, 2100, 2102, 2103, 2105, etc., are critical to understand.  Your fiduciary duties started when you separated, not just when the divorce was filed.  Breach of your fiduciary duty, which is the ultimate duty of good faith and fair dealing between husband and wife, could result in loss of property, loss of custody, fines, or contempt of court.

The court takes a hard look at fiduciary duty and breach of the automatic restraining orders, so you must understand these critical legal concepts.

Family Code Sections 720-721 [HTML]
Family Code Sections 1100-1103 [HTML]
Family Code Sections 2100-2113 [HTML]
Family Code Sections 2120-2129 [HTML]
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Declarations of Disclosure

The mandatory financial forms each party must complete before a divorce can be granted.

Income & Expense Worksheet [PDF] Income & Expense Worksheet [PDF] (164 KB)

Income & Expense Declaration (FL-150) [PDF] Income & Expense Declaration (FL-150) [PDF] (697 KB)

Schedule of Assets & Debts [PDF] Schedule of Assets & Debts [PDF] (172 KB)

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Schedule of Separate Property [PDF] Schedule of Separate Property [PDF] (62 KB)

This document sets out the property that you want.  If you fail to fill this out, the other party won't know what you want, and that is where a lot of the fighting begins.
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Facts About Spousal Support [HTML]
This page contains important facts and information regarding spousal support.
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California Laws Regarding Spousal Support
Under California Family Law, the court will order spousal support based on a variety of factors. Familiarize yourself with the laws surrounding spousal support by reading the code sections below. Pay close attention to Family Code Section 4320 and 4325.

Family Code Section 4320-4326 [HTML]

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California Guideline Spousal Support and Child Support Calculator [HTML]
California law requires courts to adhere to statewide uniform guidelines in setting child support orders. The Payment Estimator applies the statewide uniform guideline calculation to the information that you enter into the blank fields. 
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Collecting Evidence [HTML]
Cases are decided on the rule of law and the facts presented in evidence.  Your chief obligation is collecting and presenting evidence that is reliable and consistent with the outcome you desire.
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Support Log [PDF] Support Log [PDF] (244 KB)

Keeping a support log is a crucial part of collecting hard evidence in your case.
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