Simply stated, divorce is an unfortunate part of life.

However, with the right divorce attorney by your side, you can take the process from what may feel disastrous to resolved without all of the intermittent headaches and litigation nightmares you often hear about in regards to divorce.

If you are in the Orange County area and are considering a divorce, you have reached the right place. Hills Law Group is experienced in handling all issues relevant to divorce and divorce proceedings.

We work closely with our clients to provide professional, discreet services from the moment you file to the day your pen provides your final signature on your divorce papers.

If you are at a point where you know you are ready to move forward with your divorce, it is best to educate yourself on what will happen during the process. 

Here are the initial steps required prior to the start of divorce proceedings:

File a Divorce Petition

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the divorce, one spouse must file a legal petition asking the court to terminate the marriage before they can begin the divorce process. This stands whether or not both spouses agree on the divorce.

The filing spouse must provide:

1.       A statement informing the court that at least one spouse meets the state’s residency requirements for divorce.

2.       A legal reason or the grounds for the divorce

3.       Any other state-required statutory information

Initial Financial Disclosures

The divorce process can feel overwhelming and emotional. Oftentimes the last thing many people think of – or want to think of – while getting everything organized with their divorce attorney, are their finances and assets and how they will be handled and divided throughout the divorce process. In the state of California each party must complete Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure or PDDs.

These PDDs consist of four documents each spouse must complete, sign and turn over to the other party as part of the divorce process. The PDDs help paint the overall financial picture for each party. Having a clear presentation of the financials will make any future negotiations and settlements easier. The following PDDs should be completed:

Declaration of Disclosure

Schedule of Assets and Debts 

Income and Expense Declaration 

Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration 

Indeed the completion of these financial disclosures will take some time, but they are well worth the effort. Each spouse has 60 days to complete the PDDs as of filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. It is imperative all assets are disclosed in the PDDs. Otherwise there is a risk of penalty or even perjury charges by the party that is withholding information. Your attorney can help guide you through this process to ensure thorough and complete documents are provided.

Ask for Temporary Orders

Next, the filing spouse can ask for temporary orders. These cover the typical waiting period for divorce, which can oftentimes be six months or more. Courts understand that the waiting period for divorce can be an inconvenience and may not be possible for all couples. This is especially true for those who may have children and must next consider how the separation will affect their schedules.

However, once you file for divorce, the court allows you to ask the court for temporary court orders for child custody, child support, and spousal support.

So what does all this mean?

The request of a temporary order simply means the court will hold a hearing and request information from each spouse before deciding how to rule on the application. The temporary order is typically quickly given by the judge to accommodate the situation and then is valid until the judge either makes adjustments to the temporary order or finalizes the divorce.

Serve Your Spouse and Wait for a Response

The idea of serving your spouse with legal papers may be stressful, especially if your spouse was not in agreement with the idea of divorce. Do not worry. You should not let this sway you from following your initial intentions. 

Once you compile copies of all the previously mentioned papers required to be filed, you will then need to have them served to your spouse. Once this is complete, you will need to file proof of service with the court.

After you file the petition for divorce and request for temporary orders, you need to provide a copy of all of this paperwork to your spouse and file proof of service with the court. This document explains to the court that you met the statutory requirements for giving a copy of the petition to your spouse. 

Keep in mind that should you neglect to file proof with the court, or you do not properly serve your spouse, the judge will be unable to proceed with your divorce case.

When Do I Hire a Divorce Attorney?

Once you have decided that divorce is the way you want to go, you may wonder can you do it alone? Frankly, it is not recommended to move forward without a divorce attorney, as there are too many things that can go wrong when it comes to the legalities of divorce. These are things you should not try to handle on your own.

Sometimes the idea of hiring an attorney may trigger emotions of fear or hesitancy or worry regarding the costs involved. Some people feel it is better to try and represent themselves to save money. However, there may come a time when things start falling out of place unexpectedly and you find yourself struggling on your own. Here are some of the things that would indicate you should hire an attorney and leave the work to the professionals.

Your Spouse Has Hired a Lawyer

You may feel blindsided if your spouse suddenly hires an attorney. Take it as a sign to hire your own. The good news is, a divorce lawyer will represent you and look out for your best interest, and not the interest of your spouse in a divorce.

Sometimes couples come to unofficial agreements about certain things when deciding to divorce. Unfortunately, things can change quickly if not legally bound, meaning your spouse hiring a lawyer may indicate they no longer have intentions to abide by your verbal agreement. Having your own lawyer will help place things into perspective and help you better evaluate the details of the situation. 

Your Spouse Has a Divorce Petition Delivered to You

No one wants to receive a legal document regarding divorce – but here it is – you have just received a divorce petition. Now what? Well, now that your spouse sent a divorce petition to you, it is time for you to seek counsel.

Why? Keep in mind this petition is legal documentation and should always be carefully reviewed by your lawyer. They will be able to best provide the guidance you need, keeping your best interests in mind, far more than what you could do on your own.

Deadlines and paperwork are a big component of the divorce process and having a lawyer to oversee these will be a tremendous help and can be very cost-effective. 

You Have a Court Hearing Approaching

Another thing no one likes is going to court…and we can honestly say that going at it alone will not make the experience any better.

Going to court without a lawyer could also cause damage to your case that you did not even foresee. Having a divorce lawyer will tackle all of the courtroom complications and ensure you are properly represented.

Additionally, let’s be honest…you are not a lawyer and do not know the rules and intricacies of many of the documents a judge may consider in your case. And there is nothing wrong with that! There is a reason we are professionals and are here to help you.

We remain mindful that the judge is in a position to make very important and life-changing decisions based on your case and representation, so it is always best to be sure you have a professional standing by your side.

Your Spouse Scheduled Mediation

It’s time to talk! Mediation can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your opinion or if you and your spouse are able to sit and talk things out in a civilized way. Mediation is done in place of going to court and this is often a great option. Mediation gives the parties control over the outcome of their divorce and often costs less than going to court.

The result of mediation is a settlement agreement that is signed by both parties. This agreement cannot be undone – and if you try, it can be nearly impossible to do so. Having a lawyer to explain the mediation and all of the legal points is a huge benefit rather than taking it on all by yourself. Clarity is key to ensure you receive exactly what you are seeking.

Advantages of Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

Hiring a divorce lawyer has a multitude of benefits and legal advantages. We promise we aren’t just saying that because we can represent you. We understand that while it may be hard to see in the moment, having someone by your side – your divorce lawyer — and always on your side will play a large role in helping you keep your sanity during the difficult times of divorce.

You Will Not Be Alone

With a divorce lawyer, you will not be alone during this stressful time, and they will be there to help you stay grounded mentally, helping to minimize your stress. Having a divorce lawyer also means your case will be filed quickly and the process itself will be completed properly, saving you time. In some cases, you may be able to avoid court. A divorce lawyer will help ensure you receive a fairer settlement and partners.

Objectivity

While going through a divorce, it may become difficult to view things objectively and from their right perspectives. This oftentimes can lead to arguing between the two parties and unrealistic expectations of the outcome. Having an experienced divorce lawyer by your side can assist by keeping you in an objective mindset and work to make the process as smooth as possible. This is particularly important when children and custody issues are involved.

Level the Playing Field

Another benefit of hiring a divorce lawyer is that you will level the playing field, so to speak. With your lawyer by your side, you will be able to properly protect yourself from making any irreversible mistakes that could affect the rest of your life.

Keep Things Fair and Balanced

Your divorce lawyer will help make the process run smooth, fair, and balanced, even if you feel you are on good terms with your spouse. It is always best to have someone who is objective and looking out for the best result for you with no emotion attached.

Cost Effective

In the long run, hiring a divorce attorney may also save you money. You can count on your rights being protected and feel better knowing that you will receive objective advice and benefits from an experienced professional.

About Hills Law Group

Hills Law Group represents the Orange County area and employs stand-out attorneys, lawyers, and mediators. With a combined 30 years of experience, our team assists with legal counseling in matters of divorce, support, property, and custody issues, and more.

As an experienced attorney, lawyer and mediator specializing in family law, owner Maxwell Hills is admitted to practice before all courts in the state. He uses a compassionate approach to legal matters. Maxwell is a respected member of the legal community and applies a modern approach to law that embraces digital technology. This modern approach helps cases move faster and minimizes costs. 

Hills Law Group has become one of the premier legal firms in Orange County offering the highest legal representation for divorce, separation, or marriage dissolution. Our lawyers make it a point to guide you through every step of the process so that you are always informed and ready to make the best decisions.

Our team will provide a thorough consultation to ensure that you are comfortable with our attorneys and that you aren’t taken advantage of by other parties in the legal system.

With a 15-year former criminal litigator on staff, we can also handle domestic violence issues quickly and efficiently. We want to make sure that justice is served and that you don’t have to dwell on this incredibly painful part of your life. For high-profile and high-net-worth clients experiencing family issues, we have the expertise to handle your case while keeping you out of the public eye. 

When you choose Hills Law Group you have an edge over all other firms. In simply speaking to our team, you will realize that you are working with real people who truly understand your struggles. This may be their career, but they are still passionate about finding the best solution for you and your family.

Reach out to us for more information about representation. We are here to help you make the best of your case and will work diligently to provide you with the best possible outcome.

External Resources

We hope you have gained some knowledge on divorce and all the benefits of having a qualified divorce attorney by your side as you make your way through the process.

Our attorneys are available to answer any questions you may have and provide the assistance you need to get started today.

For more information on the divorce process in California, visit the links below.

https://www.courts.ca.gov/1032.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en
https://www.courts.ca.gov/1225.htm
https://www.courts.ca.gov/1033.htm