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2015: Five Things You Must Know to Avoid Damaging Your Paternity, Legal Separation or Divorce in San Diego
The pleadings can be very complicated in all California courts and San Diego exception. Whether your case is a divorce, paternity or legal separation, you will need to file pleadings. It is very important that all of your pleadings are accurate. For a divorce or legal separation, you will need to fill out the income and expense declaration and the schedule of assets and debts among many other mandatory pleadings. It is easy to make an error or omission as so much information and documentation. Reviewing your pleadings, before you sign, is a very good strategy. Even if you are using an attorney, errors can occur and the pleadings are signed by you and you will be held to these in court and in future. Also, it is critical to make sure the pleadings you are using are current judicial council forms as you do not want a rejection and miss a filing deadline.FOLLOW LOCAL RULES FOR FILING AND SERVICE
In San Diego Superior Court for family law cases, the law is governed by different codes and not only the Family Law Code. The seminal code for filing and service is under the Code of Civil Procedure Section 1005. Be very careful as some are court days and some are calendar days. Always look on the San Diego Superior Court website for your calendering purposes as some legal holidays you may not be aware of which can affect timely filing or service of initial or responsive or reply or other pleadings. The below is not a complete recitation of all filing and service deadlines for pleadings or any other papers or documents to be filed and is only a summary template. In addition, some pleadings [such as Petition and Summons for divorce, legal separation and paternity] may not be served by mail and must be personally served or a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt signed by person being served or Notice for Publication after the mandatory procedures which include the Declaration of Due Diligence and proof of publication. This is extremely complicated.
- All supporting and moving papers shall be filed and served at least 16 court days before the hearing
- If service by mail within California, the above time period is increased by five calendar days
- If service by mail within the United States but outside California, the above time period is increased by ten calendar days
- If service by mail outside the United States, the above time period is increased by twenty calendar days
- If service is by express mail or facsimile, the above time period is increased from 16 court days to 18 court days
- All responsive papers opposing the supporting and moving papers shall be filed and served at least 9 court days before the hearing
- All reply papers to the responsive papers must be filed and served at least 5 court days before the hearing.
In San Diego, there is mandatory mediation when a request for order is filed for either initial or modification of custody and/or visitation. This mediation is held at Family Court Services which is located in all of the family law court houses in San Diego County except Madge Bradley. On the pleadings will be the date for the mediation. It is critical that you appear for this mediation as failure to do so could (1) have sanctions imposed on you and (2) result in a long continuance as the mediators are very backed up. On the pleadings will also be the date for the court hearing. Make sure to be in court on time and turn your cell phone off. San Diego is a very good County for parking for family law court houses. Vista, Chula Vista and El Cajon all have free parking however can get full even very early in morning. There is meter parking or parking lots near the two family court houses in downtown San Diego.DO NOT DO ANYTHING YOU DO NOT WANT THE JUDGE TO SEE
Beware the “2am e mail” or postings on any social media site. Do not leave voice mails or send letters or texts or tweets that you would not want the Judge to see. Paternity, as well as legal separation and divorce cases, can be very emotional and many times spouses and parents will say or do something out of total frustration that then destroys their case for the future.ASSIST YOUR ATTORNEY
Follow your attorney’s advice. Many parents and spouses, as above, are very emotional and this is not the best strategy to protect your rights and try and obtain your goals. What you believe to be fair or reasonable may or may not be in accord with the law.HOW A LOCAL EXPERIENCED SAN DIEGO LAW FIRM CAN HELP
An experienced San Diego Family Law Firm, such as Doppelt and Forney, APLC, can help with all aspects of your family law case. The firm offers a free 30 minute consultation with an attorney so you can discuss your individual case.