For many spouses in San Diego, the statement “I want a divorce” is an easily-anticipated anticlimax to months of marital decline. Other times, the statement comes as an unwelcome surprise. Either way, your response may make a big difference in your future life and divorce cases in San Diego can be very complicated. It can be very difficult to put aside emotion and look at the divorce as a “business decision” especially when there are children involved. The San Diego Superior Court Judges do not rule or order based on emotions and only on the facts of the case, evidence presented and the law in California.
Your first goal should be to get the true facts as much as possible. Is your spouse serious about wanting a divorce or making a final attempt to call your attention to a serious problem? Is counseling an option? Would a temporary separation help to cool a volatile situation? Is your marriage irreparable and divorce the only option? Have you been served with pleadings? What do the pleadings request? What court house in San Diego was your case filed in and who is your San Diego Judge?
If your spouse is determined to get a divorce, you need to understand that there’s nothing you can do to stop it as San Diego adopts the California law of no fault divorce. Even attempting to delay the proceedings can have serious legal consequences since there can be sanctions imposed for unreasonable delays. There are many big mistakes people make when facing a spouse’s divorce request. It is crucial, once the petition for divorce is filed in San Diego Superior Court, to file a response immediately so that your rights are protected and you receive notices from the Court for hearings and are kept “in the loop”. One exception to this, and there are others, is where one spouse is contesting jurisdiction in San Diego and then the proper procedure is not to respond or make a general appearance and, instead, make a special appearance and file a motion to quash. The can be very complicated.
Knowing that divorce is inevitable, some people “just want to get it over with.” They accept terms of property settlements and custody agreements proposed by the spouse in the interest of resolving everything quickly. The court usually approves agreements by the parties, even if the agreement is not in accord with the law to one party. However, if you don’t agree, the court will impose a settlement which is in accord with the law. So there’s no reason for you to agree to a settlement that you know is unfair simply to try and move on since moving on requires you also to have a future and giving it all away is not the best option. Many times, San Diego residents have “buyers remorse” and it is difficult [if not impossible] to set aside judgments in many cases given the current law on this issue.
Other people go to great lengths to draw out the proceedings, hoping the other party will back down and stay in the relationship. However, these tactics often make a bad situation even worse, and accrue thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal fees and expenses. In San Diego, we have no fault divorce and this means that the Court will grant a divorce over opposition although this may take more time and money for a delay. One issue which often comes up is medical insurance coverage for the non member spouse and a termination of the marital status may affect this so it is important to consider this if agreeing to the divorce finalization. Sometimes, the issues in the divorce [division of debts, division of assets, child support, spousal support and the parenting plan] can be resolved and a judgment entered but the marital status termination can be delayed. If neither party intends to remarry immediately upon judgment, this may be an appropriate strategy.
Furthermore, some people are unaware of their legal entitlement to spousal support or retirement benefits. In order to receive the benefits to which you are entitled by law, you need to ask for them in a timely manner under California law. It is crucial, again, to know the true facts. Once you know the “community estate”, then you can decide on what the division would be which is in accord with the law.
Finally, one of the biggest mistake people make is failing to consult a lawyer. A qualified, knowledgeable San Diego divorce attorney will be able to tell you what to expect, help negotiate property and custody agreements, and request spousal support to help you start your new life as appropriate. The attorney can also try and give realistic expectations although no guarantees can be made.
Even if your spouse has not yet retained an attorney, consulting your own attorney early in the process can help you avoid making common mistakes or risky financial moves. And by consulting the best attorney yourself, your spouse will not be able to hire that attorney against you due to conflict of interest rules. Do not sign any documents without consulting an attorney since you may not know rights you have or property or a financial settlement you may be entitled to.
If your spouse has retained a lawyer, it’s even more important for you to have your own representation. The attorney’s duty is to obtain the best settlement terms for his own client, so if only one party has an attorney, that party has a huge advantage. It is up to you to take the first step to protecting your rights and doing your best to trying and obtain your goals.
The decisions you make today can impact the rest of your life. It’s never easy to start over. But family law helps protect people in your situation from simply being abandoned by a spouse. To learn more, call our office at 858-312-8500 or contact us online for a free consultation.