TIMELINEby Aaron Dishon, Esq.
A dissolution proceeding is initiated by the filing of a
Petition by one party.
The Petition is then served (either personally or by
mail) upon the responding party. The party originally filing
the Petition is known as the "Petitioner" and the
other party is known as the "Respondent".
The date of service of the Petition on the Respondent is
important as it commences the 6-month waiting period between
the start of the dissolution and eligibility to request that
the marital status of the parties be terminated and Judgment
If all issues are not resolved at the end of the 6-month
period, and you would like your marital status terminated,
please discuss this with me.
It is not possible, however, to terminate your marital
status earlier than 6 months from the date of service of the
Petition, and until your marital status is terminated, you
are not free to remarry.
Following receipt of the Petition, the Respondent has 30
days (unless Petitioner's attorney grants additional time)
in which to file his or her responding statement to the
facts. After that time, the case may be set for a Court
If there are custody and support disputes, it is
customary to file what is known as an Order to Show Cause
(commonly called an OSC) to obtain a special early hearing
for orders for custody and support and for restraining
Custody and visitation disputes are now referred by the
Court for mandatory counseling at "Conciliation
Court" (within the Courthouse) prior to the Court
hearing. If an Order to Show Cause is filed on your behalf,
a copy will be given to you.
Please note the date set for
Conciliation and the hearing and immediately call to confirm
your presence at both scheduled dates. Please note that the
Conciliation date is mandatory, and you must appear for that
meeting or the Court may order sanctions, fines or other
orders against you, unless cancellation is agreed to by both
After service of the Petition, the parties may
successfully conclude a full Marital Settlement Agreement
providing for equal division of their community property and
for custody, visitation and support of children and/or
Where the parties have arrived at such an agreement, that
agreement is incorporated into a "Judgment" which
is then signed by the Judge and made an order of the Court.
A personal Court appearance may be required of the
Petitioner or the Judgment may be granted upon Petitioner's
affidavit without an appearance, in the Judge's discretion.
Normally, an appearance is not required if both parties sign
In more complex dissolution proceedings, time of trial is
usually delayed considerably to allow time to determine,
through "discovery," the fair market value, amount
of encumbrances, etc. of each item of community and/or
separate property. A trial date is usually not requested
until all necessary documentation is completed.
"Discovery" may require your completion of answers
to written questions from opposing counsel, production of
documents for opposing counsel to review, or your testimony
before a Court reporter (a deposition), and it is frequently
necessary to employ experts, such as accountants or
appraisers, to assist us in these procedures. We will, of
course, confer with you prior to such decisions being made.
Often, discovery procedures take a great deal of time,
and this is done in an effort to properly represent your
interests; therefore, we ask that you please be patient
during this time. Please remember that everything is done
for a reason, and we make every attempt to avoid any wasted
time spent on your case.
In every dissolution of marriage proceeding, it is
required (unless the parties otherwise mutually agree) that
the amount of community property and community obligations
be equally divided.
This equal division may be accomplished by dividing each
particular asset between the parties or by awarding one
asset to one party and an asset or assets of equal value to
the other. If one party assumes the obligation for a
community debt, that debt will usually be deducted from the
value of assets awarded to him or her in computing the equal
Please note that your agreement and a
Court Judgment requiring one party to pay a particular bill
will not relieve the other party of the obligation, in the
event of default if it is a joint obligation.
The foregoing statement is meant as a very general guide
in the processing of a dissolution of marriage proceeding.
The time and the effort involved in a particular dissolution
proceeding will vary greatly depending upon the problems
involved, such as custody, visitation, determination of the
nature and extent of community assets and obligations,
child/spousal support, etc.
Your cooperation and that of
your spouse and his or her attorney are very important
factors in enabling us to bring about a reasonable and
This Article California
Dissolution Timeline was
written by Aaron
Dishon; Copyright Dishon
& Block, APC.