We are often asked “My spouse doesn’t want a divorce so what happens next?” It might surprise you to learn that it is actually quite rare for both spouses to come to a simultaneous reason to divorce. Under California law it doesn’t matter if one spouse is ready and the other spouse isn’t. It is quite normal for one spouse to realize it is time to get a divorce and take some time to convince the other. In some cases, your soon-to-be former spouse won’t agree. What then?
Serve the divorce papers. There are multiple important issues tied up in this simple action. The first is known as the Date of Separation (DOS). This is a very important date in a California divorce. The DOS marks the point when the “community” ends and your “separate” financial life begins. This doesn’t mean you can take half the money from your joint accounts and go. It is a legal designation which will come into play during property characterization and division.
“If my spouse doesn’t want a divorce can they put a stop to it?” The simple answer is no. Once a divorce is filed (by you, the “petitioner”) and your spouse (the “respondent”) has been served, he/she has 30 days to file a legal answer. California is a “no fault” divorce state. You don’t have to list or prove the reason(s) for the divorce. It is simply assumed to be “irreconcilable differences.”
“What if my spouse doesn’t want a divorce and doesn’t respond to the divorce papers?” As the petitioner, you request many things including how child custody and parenting time will be divided, as well as spousal support, child support, and the division of your community property. If your spouse doesn’t respond within 30 days your divorce becomes what is known as a “default divorce.” From a legal point of view the Court can assume your former spouse is consenting to everything you’ve asked for as the petitioner.
Your spouse can’t stop you from taking action, however it may be in your best interest to help them to catch up to where you are. If your spouse is caught off guard or contests the divorce it could have a significant impact on the time it will take as well as the cost. You need sound legal advice and counsel. We invite you to contact the Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq or call 760-434-3330 to schedule an appointment to learn more.