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Divorce/Child Custody and Support


A divorce case in California begins when the “Petitioner” or his/herdivorce lawyer files a Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage in the Superior Court asking the court to dissolve the marriage and to deal with any issues between the parties arising out of the marital relationship such as child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, debt division, payment of attorney fees and court costs, etc. How the case is subsequently handled depends on whether the other party – the “Respondent” – 1) fails to file a Response to the Petition or, 2) cooperates to settle the case by way of agreement or, 3) files a Response and contests the issues in the case.

Thus – depending on what the Respondent decides to do – there are three ways to resolve the issues in the case:

    1. California Default Divorce: The Respondent in the case fails to timely file a response to the petition for divorce or legal separation; in which case the Respondent’s “default” is entered by the court clerk and the matter proceeds without the Respondent’s participation.

    2. California Uncontested Divorce: A case is “uncontested” when the parties work together to settle the issues by way of written agreement. This may be the case where the Respondent initially defaults or where the Respondent files a Response and the parties later decide to settle.

    3. California Contested Divorce: A case is “contested” when a Response to the petition is filed, the parties are unable to agree on the issues, and the court must resolve them for the parties in a trial.