A divorce, now known as a dissolution of marriage, is the legal termination of a marriage. A divorce proceeding can raise not only issues concerning the division of property (and whether that property can be deemed either community property or separate property), but also issues of child custody and visitation, child support and spousal support. The process of a dissolution of marriage contains four basic phases.
1. After consultation a divorce (dissolution of marriage) petition is prepared and filed with the Clerk of the Court.
2. Usually, an initial hearing is scheduled. The hearing can determine temporary orders such as temporary child support, temporary spousal support, temporary visitation orders and certain rights to use the community/separate property of the parties. The initial hearing can also include domestic violence issues and stay-away/protective orders.
3. Discovery process is then commenced. Written questions can be asked, a request to produce certain documents, a request to answer whether a document is genuine or whether a statement made is true and depositions can be set.
4. The final phase would be a hearing on all unsettled matters. The hearing may be in the form of a trail, mediation or arbitration.
Most divorce matters can be settled through negotiation between the parties. If a complete agreement can be reached, a Marital Settlement Agreement will be prepared and presented to the court for its approval.