San Jose Divorce Lawyer: Here’s What You Need To Know
Divorce is among the most stressful periods a person may experience. The more complicated the divorce process is, the bigger the toll on both parties’ mental health. But with the help of an online divorce service like Bliss Divorce, the divorcing couple can reach an amicable split much faster and at a fraction of the cost.
Involving a San Jose lawyer can increase conflict during the process, which may unnecessarily drag out the process for months or years. Between court fees and divorce attorney costs, many people end up in further debt by the time they sign their divorce agreement.
In fact, based on a research study, divorce can reduce a person’s wealth by three-quarters (77%), which has a negative impact on both parties, particularly when children are involved.
A great way to avoid involving attorneys is by employing the help of an online divorce service. The right online divorce service can help couples do not only with their paperwork from start to finish, but also with working out disagreements like division of assets and spousal support. This means there is no need for an expensive attorney.
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Divorce in San Jose, CA
California is among the states that allow a spouse to apply for a divorce without proof of the other party’s wrongdoing. Applying for a divorce without proof of wrongdoing is known as a no-fault divorce. In other words, the spouse seeking a divorce does not need to provide a reason for why they want to divorce.
In no-fault divorce states, even issues such as cheating will not influence the judge’s ruling about asset division, child custody, or alimony.
California divorces most often state “irreconcilable differences” as the basis for divorce. The only at-fault ruling a judge may consider is in divorce cases involving domestic abuse.
If you reside in San Jose, you can start the divorce process by filing in your local courthouse or signing up for an online divorce service. The jurisdiction for San Jose is the Santa Clara County Superior Court. There are eight courthouse locations in San Jose. A person may file for a divorce at the closest courthouse that handles divorce cases.
Filing for a Divorce in San Jose, California
Once the spouse filing for a divorce ensures they meet the requirements and are eligible to file for a divorce, they can start the process.
Divorce petition and summons
To start the process, the spouse seeking divorce begins by filling out two forms: petition and summons. The spouse filing must fill out the court forms correctly, as they will impact the divorce outcome. This is why many spouses hire an attorneys or use a reputable online divorce service.
The forms that are prepared to start the process are as follows:
- Petition – Marriage/Domestic Partnership (form FL-100) – this includes questions about the basic information regarding the marriage. What types of orders does the spouse want the court to be able to make regarding spousal support and property?
- Summons – Family Law (form FL-110) – tells the other spouse that a divorce process is started and they have 30 days to respond.
- Declaration under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (form FL-105) – the spouse filing for a divorce must fill out this form if the couple has children under 18. The form provides information to the court regarding the children’s place of birth, current residence, and any other court cases involving them.
Once these forms are files, both spouses are prohibited from doing certain things without written agreement from the other spouse or a court order. This is known as Standard Family Law Restraining Orders, which prohibits spouses from:
- Hiding or giving away funds and property.
- Changing insurance beneficiaries.
- Taking minor children out of state or getting them new passports.
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Many people are surprised by the next requirement after the Petition and Summons have been filed: sharing financial information between spouses. Both spouses are required as part of the divorce process to fully disclose all of their assets and debts.
Sharing information about finances is also known as disclosure or financial disclosure. The spouse filing for a divorce must fill out forms about what they own, earn, owe, and spend. Once the spouse fills out the forms along with copies of financial documents, they must give them to their spouse.
Sharing financial information for the first time between spouses is known as preliminary disclosure. The couple must complete preliminary disclosures by a set deadline:
- If they are the petitioner, 60 days after filing a Petition.
- If they are the respondent, 60 days after filing a Response.
The couple may need to share financial information again later on, either:
- Final declaration of disclosure (sharing the information a second time).
- The couple signs an agreement to waive final disclosures.
This part is where the couple makes the most important decisions regarding:
- Property and debt division;
- Spousal support;
- Child custody and support plan.
The best-case scenario is that both spouses can agree and make decisions without involving the court. If this is impossible to do on their own both sides can hire attorneys. Often an agreement is reached before going to court. One online divorce site includes advanced Digital Divorce Mediation, which can work out disagreements in most cases. If neither of these work and the spouses still have disputes the court will make the decisions for them.
If the second spouse fails to file a Response, the filing spouse can seek a default divorce and make decisions without input. Still, the judge will need to approve the decisions. Finalizing the divorce
The last step for divorcing couples is to turn in the final forms, including the judgment form, child custody forms, a written agreement if the couple has one and several forms required by the court. The court will review the submitted forms and ensure that none are missing and there are no mistakes.
After the courts confirm everything is in order with the forms, the judge will sign the final form, “the Judgment.” The Judgment form states the exact day the marriage officially ends.
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California Divorce Law: San Jose Divorce Requirements
Before either spouse decides to file for a divorce in San Jose, they must first ensure they are eligible. According to California state law:
- one or both spouses must have lived in California for at least six months to file for a divorce.
- one or both spouses must be residents of their current county for at least three months.
Couples whose domestic partnership is registered in California do not need to meet the state residency requirements. But, even though the court can end your domestic partnership, it may be unable to decide on property, alimony, or children.
For domestic partnerships registered in a different state, one or both partners will need to meet the California residency requirements.
According to state law, either spouse can file for legal separation as soon as they move to San Jose. Legal separation allows spouses to resolve legal terms and separate while waiting for one of them to meet the residency requirements.
Once they meet the requirements, one or both can file for a divorce. Legal separation is also used by spouses unsure if they want to finalize their divorce. While legally separated, neither spouse can legally marry someone else.
After settling their differences the couple may decide to reverse the legal separation. But if the couple cannot reconcile differences, and one spouse wants a divorce, they must file a petition for dissolution of marriage.
If a same-sex couple married in San Jose, California and currently resides in a state that does not allow same-sex marriage, different rules apply for divorce. The couple can file in the county where they got married, in this instance, the Santa Clara Superior Court.
But while the court can end the marriage, it may be unable to decide about the division of property, alimony, or child custody.
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Types of Divorces: San Jose, CA
Different divorce options are available, depending on the circumstances surrounding a couple’s separation. The different types of divorces involve specific procedures, so understanding each is important.
If both spouses agree on everything, such as property division, alimony, and child custody, the divorce is uncontested. The procedure for an uncontested divorce is the simplest and fastest.
With an uncontested divorce, the couple can avoid additional costs by not involving divorce attorneys in a court battle. Couples may reach an agreement even on issues they disagree on through divorce mediation or online divorce.
Unlike uncontested divorces, contested ones can become complicated and drawn out. In contested divorce cases, the spouses cannot agree on one or more issues, usually regarding child custody, alimony, etc.
The divorce process can last more than a year with contested divorce cases. In this type of divorce, each spouse hires a lawyer. Divorce lawyers can further escalate the tensions, not to mention their exorbitant fees, often leaving couples in mountains of debt.
Due to the high costs, even couples going through a contested divorce sometimes seek other solutions to help them divorce. Many couples choose to employ the help of an online divorce platform to help them reach an agreement and divorce without lawyers.
Summary dissolution is another type of uncontested divorce for short marriages without complications. Summary dissolution allows couples to avoid a court battle and significantly shorten the divorce process.
Still, it is important to note that couples must meet the following summary dissolution requirements.
- The marriage is not longer than five years;
- The couple has no children together;
- Less than $47,000 in joint assets;
- Less than $47,000 in separate property;
- The couple owns no real estate;
- Less than $6,000 shared debt.
When a couple cannot agree on the terms and issues surrounding their divorce, they may try divorce mediation. The divorce mediation process involves a professional mediator acting as a neutral third party between the spouses.
The neutral mediator may help the couple resolve issues and negotiate legal terms so they reach a fair settlement for both parties in a calm atmosphere with cooperation and understanding.
With the aid of divorce mediation, couples may address all issues involved with divorce, including:
- Child custody and support;
- Spousal support;
- Property division;
- Creating a parenting plan.
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San Jose Online Divorce: Separate Without Divorce Attorneys
If both spouses can reach a fair separation agreement, meaning the divorce is uncontested, they avoid involving the courts and attorneys. This is what online divorce services can offer their clients: a way to reduce costs and have an amicable split.
Online divorce services may help even with contested divorces by providing a mediation that allows couples to reach an agreement fair for both parties. Even if the couple does not agree on every aspect of the divorce, avoiding a court battle is preferable.
A reputable online divorce service will handle every step of the process for the couple, including financial disclosures and preparing paperwork, in addition to dispute mediation.
San Jose Divorce Mediation
When couples are divorcing, most assume they will need a divorce attorney by their side. But, more often than not, involving divorce lawyers leads to more heartbreak, debt, and tension-filled court battles.
But a mediator is a neutral third party who runs mediation sessions. They assist parties in dispute resolution.
The mediator’s job is to assist both parties in identifying, negotiating, and reaching mutually-acceptable agreements. The mediator helps spouses address the numerous concerns, disagreements, and financial matters necessary to dissolve their marriage outside of court.
The divorce mediator actively engages in the negotiations during a mediation session. The mediator helps the parties while the couple retains complete control over the divorce agreement and the choices that will be made.
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Advantages of mediation
Divorces are already hard enough on both spouses, so having a neutral party, a mediator, to guide and help resolve conflict can be a good idea. There are numerous advantages of involving a mediator in the divorce process:
- Online or in-person mediation sessions
With mediation, if a couple is unable or does not want to be in the same space, they may choose to have their sessions online. Or if the spouses are amicable with each other, they may choose in-person mediation.
The cost of divorce in San Jose, CA, is already incredibly high, reaching over $26,000 with the lawyer, court, and other fees. But, online divorce mediation significantly reduces divorce costs. Costs can range from as little as $999 for online mediation to an average of $5,000 for in-person mediation.
- Reduces tensions between couples
Mediation sessions tend to be be less stressful due to the mediators’ neutral stance. The mediator aims to help the divorcing couple compromise on the terms of their divorce and reach a fair settlement for both.
- Faster divorce process
Divorces that are mediated take less time. Due to the constant back-and-forth nature of contacts between opposing counsels, divorces handled by lawyers take longer.
Divorce Mediator vs. Divorce Attorney
When a couple is divorcing, they may have trouble deciding if they want to involve lawyers in the process or go for divorce mediation. It is important to note that involving lawyers can lead to the couple ending up in court.A court battle is time-consuming and expensive.
In mediation, conversations occur in real-time, allowing conflicts to be addressed, and settled right then and there. Both spouses can talk through and find a solution to problems specific to their situation. The agreement can be modified to meet both parties’ unique needs.
During the mediation process, the two spouses will have full authority to decide what is best for both parties. The terms and conditions of the divorce agreement should be fair to both since the spouses have a direct hand in creating them.
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Choosing a San Jose Divorce Lawyer: Factors to Consider
You should consider several factors when choosing a lawyer for your divorce case.
Reputation and experience
The lawyer should have a good reputation and experience with similar divorce cases. Check the bar association website to ensure there are no sanctions against the lawyer, and search online rating sites for reviews.
Reputable lawyers services mainly provide free initial consultations to potential clients. The couple or spouse can determine if the online service or lawyer is right for their case with a free first consultation.
However, if you opt for a divorce lawyer, each other meeting will cost you hundreds per hour.
Approach and strategy are especially important to discuss if the spouses involve lawyers in their divorce. Some divorce lawyers in San Jose prefer an aggressive strategy, which will raise tensions and complicate the divorce process. During your consultation ask about the lawyer’s approach and strategy, to see if it fits well with how you want your divorce to proceed.
You should ask about the rates of the San Jose divorce lawyer before hiring one.But divorce lawyers charge by the hour and require an upfront retainer. The retainer is usually $5,000 – $10,000, and as soon as hours are used up you have to pay more. High attorney fees are why couples can end up with significant debts at the end of the divorce process.