Being the first person to file for divorce may not give clients the advantage they hope to achieve. Due to the nature of divorce proceedings, under normal circumstances, any initial edge is evened out.
But there are situations where it is advantageous to seek out the legal representation of a divorce lawyer and file for divorce first. Two common instances attorneys at Lewellen I Strebe I Hopper Family Law Group see are alimony and domestic abuse.
The attorneys at Lewellen I Strebe I Hopper Family Law Group represent their client’s best interests in divorce cases. We’re different from other lawyers because we leverage the resources of our team of experienced family law paralegals to ensure your documents and legal team are well prepared for trial if needed.
Filing for divorce is a hard decision. To know if it’s in your best interest to file first, contact Lewellen I Strebe I Hopper Family Law Group for your free consultation today
Why Is It Important To File First When It Comes To Alimony?
California is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that the reason for the divorce is not considered when determining issues like alimony. But if you decide to file for divorce, you should be informed about how the length of your marriage may impact your finances.
When determining alimony payments, a judge will consider the length of the marriage. In California, spousal support may be paid for up to half the length of a marriage that lasts 10 years or less. Marriages that last longer than 10 years are considered “long-term,” and no specific duration will apply to alimony payments.
If you and your partner were separated at any point before the filing for divorce, the length of each separation may be taken into account when deciding on a support award.
Filing for divorce before the 10-year mark will help you establish a date of separation, a critical fact in a divorce case or legal separation case, as it can affect the duration of spousal support, characterization of property, income, and debt as separate or community.
Why Is It Important To File First When It Comes To Domestic Violence?
In cases involving domestic violence in California, it is essential to prioritize the safety and well-being of the victim and any children involved. Filing for divorce first can be beneficial in such situations due to the following reasons:
Obtaining restraining orders
By filing for divorce first, the victim of domestic violence can initiate legal proceedings and request restraining orders or protective orders against the abusive spouse. These orders can provide immediate protection by legally mandating the abusive spouse to stay away from the victim and cease abuse or harassment.
Custody and visitation arrangements
Filing for divorce first allows the victim to initiate discussions and proceedings related to child custody and visitation. By taking the first step, the victim can present their concerns about the abusive spouse’s behavior and request protective measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the children, such as supervised visitation or restricted access.
Filing for divorce first enables the victim to start collecting and documenting evidence of domestic violence, including photographs, medical records, witness testimonies, phone calls, or any other relevant information. This evidence can be crucial in court proceedings to support allegations of abuse and increase the chances of obtaining favorable outcomes in terms of child custody, property division, and spousal support.
Legal strategy and preparation
By filing for divorce first, the victim gains an advantage in terms of legal strategy and preparation. They can consult with an experienced family law attorney, discuss their situation in detail, and develop a comprehensive plan to navigate the legal process. This proactive approach gives the victim a stronger position when negotiating settlements or presenting their case in court.
How Does The Divorce Process Work?
Petition for divorce
The divorce process begins with one spouse filing a Petition (also known as a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage”) with the court. The Petition outlines the grounds for divorce, requests for child custody, spousal support, division of assets and debts, and other related issues.
Serving the Petition
After filing the Petition, the initiating spouse must serve the Petition and related documents to the other spouse. This involves delivering the legal papers to the other spouse per the rules of service outlined by California law.
The non-filing spouse has a certain period of time (usually 30 days) to file a Response to the Petition. The Response addresses the issues raised in the Petition and may include counterclaims or requests for different terms.
Disclosure of financial information
Both spouses must provide complete and accurate financial disclosures, including information about income, assets, and debts, to ensure transparency in property division and determination of support.
Negotiation and settlement
Spouses, along with their respective attorneys, have the opportunity to negotiate and reach a settlement agreement outside of court. The agreement covers property division, child custody, child support, spousal support, and visitation.
If the spouses cannot negotiate a settlement, the court may schedule hearings to address the unresolved issues. These hearings may involve presenting evidence, witnesses, and arguments to support each party’s position.
If the spouses reach a settlement agreement on divorce papers or if the court makes decisions on unresolved issues, a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is issued by the court. This judgment legally terminates the marriage and provides the final resolution on all matters addressed in the divorce.
Family Law Services Provided by Lewellen | Strebe | Hopper P.C.
Our law firm provides our clients with an exceptional depth of experience handling divorce cases involving a wide range of legal issues, including:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Domestic violence restraining orders
- Division of property
- International or out-of-state removal of minor children
- Spousal support