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591 Camino De La Reina, Suite 1120, San Diego, California 92108

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Filing for Divorce in San Diego, California

If you are considering divorce or have been served with a divorce petition, Steven M. Bishop, aggressive San Diego divorce lawyer and Certified Family Law Specialist, can help.

With an excellent reputation, the Law Office of Steven M. Bishop provide quality legal representation handling:

  • Division of Marital Debts
  • Division of Property
  • Spousal Support (also known as Alimony)
  • Child Custody & Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Parenting Plans
  • Community Property Classifications
  • Valuation of Assets (real property, family businesses, retirement and pension benefits, investment portfolios)

To schedule a consultation at our law office, please contact us.

What Is the Divorce Process?

A divorce or legal separation is initiated when one spouse files a Petition and serves the other party. The Petition is filed in the Superior Court in the County where the person filing the action resides. Mr. Bishop has extensive experience representing individuals throughout San Diego County, including North County, El Cajon, South Bay and downtown Family Courts and across California. He is familiar with the rules and procedures in every major County.

The divorce Petition and related pleadings must be served upon the other spouse, usually by someone working for Mr. Bishop. However, in cases where both parties are cooperating, arrangements can be made for the other spouse to personally pick up the documents in Mr. Bishop's office, saving a significant cost for service of process and possible embarrassment.

Filing the Petition results in the issuance of “automatic temporary restraining orders” which prohibit the parties from removing children from California, selling any property without the consent of the other party, incurring loans or debts against property or canceling any insurance coverage for the other spouse. Completing service of process starts the clock on California's mandatory six-month waiting period. In many cases, filing the Petition also establishes an undisputed date of separation, although it is not uncommon for parties to separate months (and even years) before they initiate the divorce process. The actual date of separation can play a major role in determining financial interests and obligations.

The spouse served with the divorce or legal separation is known as the Respondent. The legal documents indicate a formal Response must be filed within 30 days. However, if the parties are cooperating, an extension of time can be and is typically granted. Filing a formal Response does not mean a party is consenting to the divorce. However, California is a "no-fault" state and there are no grounds which can be asserted to prevent the processing of a divorce if one party wishes to proceed with that action.

If the parties are able to negotiate an agreement to resolve some or all the issues of their marital estate, whether at the outset or at some stage during the proceeding, the relevant paperwork is prepared in the form of a Marital Settlement Agreement (or, if the agreement only addresses some of the issues, in the form of a Stipulated Order). The Family Court will approve the agreement and it will become a court order or Judgment. In the case of a global Marital Settlement Agreement, it is incorporated into a formal Judgment which typically includes referencing the date when marital status will be terminated and the parties restored to the status of unmarried persons.

In every case, the earliest date marital status can be terminated is six months from the date when the divorce Petition was personally served on the Respondent. It is not uncommon for parties to reach a full agreement before the six month waiting period has expired. Nonetheless, their marital status cannot be terminated until the six months has run its course. This does not prevent the Court from approving their agreement in the interim.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in San Diego

A divorce in California is uncontested if you and your spouse agree on the major issues, and contested if you do not agree and require resolution by the court.

A summary dissolution is an additional option in California if you meet the following requirements: You and your spouse;

  • agree that neither will receive spousal support
  • have no interest/ownership in real estate
  • have been married less than 5 years
  • have no children together
  • do not have separate property worth more than $32,000
  • do not have community assets greater than $32,000
  • have unpaid debts greater than $4,000
  • have lived in California for the last 6 months and county for 3 months
  • and your grounds for dissolution are irreconcilable differences

Common Mistakes & Myths to Filing Divorce in San Diego

Some common errors people make in divorce situations:

  • Taking friends' advice without consulting with a divorce lawyer
  • Entering into agreements w/out checking with professional attorneys
  • Avoiding & procrastinating the unfortunate inevitable divorce:
    • allows time for spouses to strategically plot asset distribution
    • can lead to diminishing property assets; home value
    • can sometimes decide status quo in child custody cases
Some common myths are:

  • Men never get the kids.
    (In today's current legal courts it has become more 50/50)
  • If you sell the house, you will get half.
    (Not necessarily true)
  • Your expenses are what decide financial support.
    (Truth: Your expenses have nothing to do with child support decisions, but they can have an impact on spousal support issues)
  • Spousal support is already taxed.
    (Truth: Spousal support is taxed after receiving)

Our Approach

If you are considering getting a divorce in San Diego County, you need lawyers who will protect your property, your family, and your rights. It's an extremely difficult time in your life and tough to make decisions. There are no winners in a contested family law proceeding.

We understand and care about our clients and provide a professional & dedicated approach to filing for divorce, communicating with you every step of the way. Our passion to protect your financial and parental rights is what motivates us.

To speak with an attorney, please contact our law office in San Diego, CA, call toll free 619-299-9780, or fill out our online contact form via email.