I want to talk to you really briefly about the three things you need to do in order to get a divorce. These are the legal things you need to do.
Step 1 – File and Serve
You need to file for divorce. You need to get that paperwork done. Get it in. Now.
Now that you’ve filed you need to get your spouse served. If you want to, you should probably tell your spouse that you’re filing so that they are not taken off guard. The last thing you want is for them to be served at their place of employment. That’s never a good look and a bad way to start your divorce. I’ve seen that and it got ugly fast.
In California it takes a minimum of 6 months to get divorced. There’s a clock that starts ticking when your spouse is served. It doesn’t mean that magically in 6 months you’re gonna be divorced. It means if you do everything you need to do before the 6 months is up then you aren’t divorced. You’ve got to wait 6 months. The goal is to have everything finished before 6 months so that all you need is a judge’s signature to finally be divorced.
Step 2 – Financial Disclosures
This is the step that people really like to skip. Really, really, really like to skip. Comments I often hear are, “This takes too long.” “I already know what is happening with our finances, do I have to do this?” “My spouse trusts me and I trust them, do we still need to do the disclosures?” Yes, you do. It is required by the state of California.
I get that these are a pain in the butt so get ready for them ahead of time. Gather things like credit card statements, bank statements, pay stubs, mortgage statements, the deed of the house, last year’s taxes, retirement statements, business documents, and the like. Begin to think about this now and work on it little by little so that it’s not such an onerous task.
While the disclosures seem very invasive, know that these documents and your financial numbers don’t actually go to court. What goes to court is an affidavit stating that you and your spouse have exchanged these documents with one another. As your mediation I do need to see the disclosures because it’s from there that we base our mediation. This is really important if we are looking at retirement, debts or assets, spousal support, or child support because we need accurate numbers. Once these are done that’s when we move to step three.
Step 3 – Finalize Divorce
Step three is where we begin mediating. We don’t mediate before the disclosures are finished otherwise we’ll very likely have a mess on our hands. Now remember you don’t have to mediate every single thing in your divorce. If you and your spouse have already agreed about most everything you just need to tell your mediator what you already agree on and what you still need help with.
Once you’ve agreed on everything in your divorce you’ll review and sign the written settlement, send it to court, and wait for a judge to sign it granting your divorce.
Then one day you’ll get this magical piece of mail telling you you’re divorce! When it comes, mark that day on your calendar because it will become your divorce-iversary. It will be a day you can celebrate year after year after year.
- File for divorce and serve your spouse.
- Complete your financial disclosures and exchange them with your spouse.
- Settle everything in your divorce, send it off to court to be approved. Celebrate your divorce.