Dissolution of Marriage
Jill Hersh, the founder of Hersh FamilyLaw Practice, has been representing people going through dissolutions of marriage since 1978, shortly after California switched from a fault-based divorce system to a no-fault dissolution of marriage system. The procedure to obtain a dissolution has changed over the years, but the end result has remained the same - an end to marital status.
A Dissolution of Marriage, commonly referred to as a Divorce, results in the termination of a marriage and restores each participant to the status of an unmarried person.* No-fault means that either partner to a marriage is entitled to end her/his marriage whether or not the other spouse agrees. No-fault also means that marital assets are divided so that each spouse receives assets and debts equal to one-half of the community property and debt without regard to fault or "blame" for the underlying divorce.**
There are residency requirements to obtain a marital Dissolution in California. One must be a resident of California for six months and a resident of the County of filing for three months at the time of filing. There are other jurisdictional requirements that will be better and more fully explained by an attorney.
A Dissolution is legally commenced by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. A Summons issues simultaneous with the filing of the Petition. The Summons contains Standard Temporary Restraining Orders ("STRO's" or "ATRO's") that immediately go into effect upon filing. The purpose of these STRO's is to freeze the status quo pending resolution of the issues involved in the dissolution action.
The earliest that a party may be restored to the status of an unmarried person is six months from the date that the Petition (and accompanying forms and notifications) are served on the other party by a legally recognized method of effecting service. One party to a dissolution may not serve the other. An attorney will explain how service is accomplished and procedurally what follows upon the filing and service of a Petition.
* References to marriage may be equally applicable to dissolution of domestic partnerships and use of the term "marriage" is for convenience only and reflects the greater proliferation of marriage since consolidation of Marriage Equality.
** There are minor exceptions to equal division that are rare and have nothing to do with blame for the underlying dissolution, but are related to certain policy considerations carved out by the legislature. An attorney will be able to explain these exceptions.
This is intended to be a summary description and should not be relied upon as legal advice. More information may be obtained by consulting an attorney providing these services at HFLP.