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  • DISSOLUTION I • 8

    27th Edition 8-1

    TABLE OF CONTENTS—CHAPTER 8

    8.00 Introduction: Informed Choices and Anticipating Problems . . . . . . . . 8-3

    A. Dissolution of Marriage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-3

    B. Legal Separation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-4

    C. Interaction Between Legal Separation and Dissolution . . . . . . . . . . 8-4

    D. Summary Dissolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-5

    E. Nullity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-5

    F. Petition for Custody, Visitation and Child Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-6

    8.01 Issue Spotting: Importance of Identifying Other Issues Early . . . . . . . 8-6

    A. Requests For Order and Need for Immediate Relief . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-6

    B. Immigration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-7

    C. Bankruptcy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-7

    D. Bigamous Marriages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-7

    E. Attorney’s Fees and Costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-8

    8.02 HBCFL Three-Stage Dissolution Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-8

    8.03 Dismissal of Cases Due to Timing Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-10

    8.04 Issues Common to All Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-10

    A. Document Footer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-10

    B. Address Confidentiality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-11

    C. Change of Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-11

    D. Handwritten Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-11

    E. Name Consistency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-11

    8.05 Family Law Case Cover Sheet (LA-20/FAM 020) (Sample Form 9C) . . . 8-12

    8.06 Summons (FL-110) (Sample Form 9D) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-12

    8.07 Proof of Service of Summons (FL-115) (Sample Forms 6A and 9E) . . . 8-13

    8.08 Petition (FL-100) (Sample Form 9F) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-13

    8.09 Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment (FL-311) (Sample Form 9G-1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-37

    A. History of Violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-37

    B. Form Completion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-38

  • 8 • DISSOLUTION I

    27th Edition8-2

    8.10 Additional Provisions-Physical Custody Attachment (FL-341(D)) (Sample Form 9G-2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-43

    8.11 Joint Legal Custody Application Attachment (FL-341(E)) (Sample Form 9H-1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-44

    8.12 Children’s Holiday Schedule (FL-341(C)) (Sample Form 9H-2) . . . . . . 8-45

    8.13 Request for Child Abduction Prevention Orders (FL-312) (Sample Form 9H-3) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-46

    8.14 Service of Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-48

    A. Personal Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-48

    B. Service by Certified Mail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-49

    C. Posting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-49

    D. Service to an Out-of-State Respondent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-49

    E. Service to an Out-of-Country Respondent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-49

    F. Service to an Incarcerated Respondent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-50

    8.15 Active Duty Military Respondents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-51

    8.16 Amended Pleadings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-51

    A. First Amended Petition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-51

    B. Amended Proof of Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-52

    8.17 Final Review—Troubleshooting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-52

    A. Review Each Set of Pleadings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-52

    B. Evaluate Need for Immediate Relief . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-53

    C. Review Service of Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-53

    D. Advise: File Before Service of Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-53

    E. Provide Important Reminders to the Litigant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-53

    F. Prepare the Dissolution I Checklist (See Sample Form 9Q) . . . . . . . 8-53

    8.18 Preview of the Disso II Appointment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-54

    8.19 Checklist for Dissolution I Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-54

    A. Forms to Complete . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-54

    B. Copies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-56

  • DISSOLUTION I • 8

    27th Edition 8-3

    CHAPTER 8 DISSOLUTION I

    8.00 Introduction: Informed Choices and Anticipating Problems

    There are several ways to end a marriage: legal separation, dissolution, summary dissolution, and nullity. The Buhai Center only assists Litigants with legal separations and dissolution actions so the other options will not be discussed in detail. Parents may also file a Petition for Custody and Support to obtain custody, visitation, and child support orders without ending the marriage. Keep in mind that these different methods should be explained fully to the Litigant early on, so she can make an informed choice.

    Litigants often need reassurance that they do not need to get the consent of their spouse and their spouse cannot stop the process. The often heard threat, “I won’t let you get a divorce,” is an empty gesture. However, the process can take a long time, at least 6 months under California law and often a year or longer. Make sure that Litigants have reasonable expectations about this time frame and that they understand that dissolution is a several-step process.

    The following will be accomplished when the process is complete:

     The legal relationship will be over;

     Property will be divided;

     Custody and visitation of the children will be determined;

     Child support will be assessed, if possible;

     Spousal support will be determined, if necessary; and

     The parties will get their former names reinstated, if desired.

    Important Note: It is critical to advise all Litigants commencing a dissolution that they may not remarry until they receive the final court papers signed by the judge. They must be clearly advised that they are not divorced until they receive a Notice of Entry of Judgment from the Court. This form will contain the date in which the parties are legally divorced.

    A. Dissolution of Marriage

    In California, divorce is referred to as dissolution of marriage.

    1. Family Court vs. Civil Court

    Dissolution actions are filed in family court. Unlike actions filed in civil court, the party who files first is the “Petitioner” (instead of plaintiff), the party who responds is the “Respondent” (not defendant), and the initiating document is called the “Petition,” not the complaint.

  • 8 • DISSOLUTION I

    27th Edition8-4

    2. Venue: 3 Months

    The proper venue to bring an action for dissolution is the county in which either the Petitioner or the Respondent resided for at least three months immediately preceding commencement of the proceeding. Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 395.

    3. Residency Requirements: 6 Months

    Petitioner or Respondent must have been a resident of California for six months before the petition for dissolution is filed. Fam. Code § 2320.

    Note: Non-resident same sex couples can obtain a dissolution in California if they were married in California and neither spouse lives in a jurisdiction that will dissolve the marriage. Domestic partners whose domestic partnership was established in California can also obtain a dissolution of their domestic partnership regardless of residency.

    B. Legal Separation

    A legal separation is a way to settle each spouse’s responsibilities towards their children and each other without terminating the marital relationship. This action can be maintained on the same grounds as dissolution and is governed under the same Family Code sections, commencing with section 2300.

    1. Reasons to Select Legal Separation Over Dissolution

    a. Residency Requirements: There is no residency requirement for legal separation, thus if a Litigant has not met the six-month residency requirement for filing a dissolution but needs orders immediately, she can file for legal separation.

    b. Religious Beliefs.

    2. Venue

    a. The proper venue to bring an action for legal separation is the county in which either the Petitioner or the Respondent resides at the commencement of the proceeding. Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 395.

    C. Interaction Between Legal Separation and Dissolution

    1. Relief for legal separation or dissolution cannot be requested in the alte