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About the Divorce Process

Divorce and Family Law in California

The divorce process can be long and difficult and, without skilled legal assistance on your side, the process can be much more difficult. In addition, you could end up with arrangements for custody and support that are highly undesirable. At the Law Office of Lawrence W. Novack, I am intent on providing my clients with information that helps in their consideration of divorce and other family law matters.


Find out how my firm can handle your divorce case.
Contact me at (760) 585-9065 for a consultation!


The following is a basic outline of the divorce process in California and is designed to help you make an educated decision regarding your future.

1. The process begins with first being separated. In most states they do not have legal separation cases, only a separation requirement which means that both spouses must be living at sleeping at different locations for a certain period of time.

  • During this time the two parties can decide if this is just a trial separation and they want pursue couples therapy and work things out or they want to continue to file for the divorce.
  • Once you have met the separation requirement, you are able file a petition for dissolution of marriage in the state where you live. Within the divorce petition you must list the reason or grounds for requesting a divorce. If you live in a "no-fault" divorce state most people just state that the marriage is "irretrievably broken" or they have "irreconcilable differences."

2. Once you have retained legal assistance and you have filed your petition, you must notify your spouse. The respondent must be served with the divorce papers and then you must submit proof to the court that they have been formally notified.

  • The responding party then has between 20-30 days to file an answer. If the other party responds with acknowledgement that the divorce has begun, there is another waiting period while you wait for a hearing date to be set.
  • On the date of your temporary hearing, you will be able to meet with a judge to have temporary orders for custody and child support arranged for the duration of the divorce process.
  • You can also request for exclusive use of the home and your vehicle, request for attorney fees, request for alimony and things of that nature. If the respondent fails to file a response, then the court may grant you everything that you requested in the petition or the "Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage."

3. Discovery is the next phase of the process, during which the attorneys will do thorough investigative research and assets will be accounted for and other vital information will be obtained for the divorce evaluation.

  • This is a negotiating period between the two parties in attempt to solidify an agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the divorce. If all aspects of the agreement are eventually agreed upon by both parties, then it is a legally binding contract that must be approved and granted by the judge.
  • If the parties are unable to agree on all the terms and conditions, then mediation is recommended. If you cannot come to an amicable agreement then it is considered to be a contested divorce that will go to trial so that a judge can make the final judgment.
  • When the trial procedure comes, attorneys will argue the issues that were unable to be resolved through mediation. Ultimately, these issues will be decided by the judge based on the needs of the spouses and the needs of any children involved.
  • When everything is said and done and a spouse is not happy with the final outcome, then they have the right to appeal the decision. If their appeal is granted, then the matter will be revisited in court.

Seek help from a Palm Desert divorce lawyer today!

The length of the entire process can range from a few months to as long as several years, it all depends on whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce. It is important that you do not compromise your resolution to better your future. My firm has extensive experience in this process, and I can put this experience to work for you. With more than 50 years of experience, my firm has been serving families facing divorce in the Palm Desert area. I understand that each case is different, and you can be sure that I will provide you with custom representation for your specific needs if you choose to work with me. Schedule a confidential consultation with me today by calling (760) 585-9065.

Call my firm and consult aa Palm Desert divorce lawyer today to learn more about the divorce process in California.