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Six Common Divorce Questions for San Diego Spouses in a Divorce Case in San Diego Superior Court: 2015

1. How long does it take for my divorce to be finalized in San Diego Superior Court?

Before your divorce is finalized, all the court issues must be resolved by default, agreement or through contested court proceedings. These include depending on the facts of your case: division of debt; division of asset; parenting plan including legal and physical custody of the child or children; child support, spousal support, attorney fees and reimbursement credits among others. This could mean hearings and a trial. Accordingly, each case can take a different length of time to resolve. Some cases take several months to resolve if the case is uncontested, and some could take much longer if there are complex issues to be taken care of. Please note that your marital status cannot be terminated before six months from either the date of personal service or notice and acknowledgment and receipt or filing of response. If the legal status is to be terminated before the judgment of all issues in the divorce, then there are several requirements which must be fulfilled and this can be done either by agreement or by a motion for bifurcation of legal status.

2. What if I do not want to get a divorce?

In California, it is not necessary for both spouses to agree to the divorce proceedings. Either party can decide to end their marriage and the other spouse need not agree for a San Diego Superior Court Judge to order that you are divorced.. The spouse who does not want to get a divorce cannot stop the divorce proceedings by simply refusing to participate in their case. However, it should be noted that non-participation will lead to a "default" judgment, not to a dismissal of the divorce request. This is why it important to participate in the process regardless of whether or not you agree with the divorce.

3. Who can get divorced in California?

To file for divorce in San Diego and surrounding areas, at least one of the spouses or partners must have:

  • lived in the State of California for six (6) months and
  • lived in the county for three (3) months before starting their divorce in that county.
  • If a party wants to start divorce proceedings in one county in California but does not meet residency requirements, they can file for a legal separation first, and revise their petition to ask for divorce later after residency requirements are met.

4. Is it important to be the first to file for divorce?

In San Diego County and the state of California, it does not matter who is the first to file the divorce papers. Court give no special preference to the first person to file divorce paperwork (Petitioner) nor any disadvantage to the responding party in divorce proceedings (Respondent).

5. Can I change my name in my divorce?

If you are in the process of getting divorced and want to change your last name back to your maiden name, you can do that in your divorce case. If you are already divorced (in California only) and did not change your name in your divorce and you have decided you want to change back to your maiden name, you may also do this.

6. What if I want to change the terms of my divorce judgment?

The court order at the time of your divorce is usually based on true information available at that time. However, circumstances and situations can change over time. One or more parties may lose their job, inherit money or remarry. As such, some parts of your judgment can be modified by a Judge and most judgments include a “reservation” of jurisdiction of modification and enforcement. However, there are also parts of court orders that cannot be changed. Division of property is not usually subject to modification after the court has made a ruling in your divorce. If the parties agree, then an addendum to the judgment can be submitted to the Court. If the parties do not agree, and your judgment is by agreement and not Judge’s order after hearing or trial, then there is a provision under the Family Law Code to “set aside” the judgment [or parts of the judgment] but there are strict requirements and strict time limits to do this. If you disagree with the Judge’s order, then you must file an appeal and, again, there are strict requirements and strict time limits.


The law firm of Doppelt and Forney, APLC has many years of family law experience. Having a skilled and experienced attorney working for you can make a difference in your divorce proceedings. Please feel free to contact our office for a complimentary and confidential consultation to see how we might be able to help you. We are conveniently located in Rancho Bernardo just off the I-15, on Bernardo Center Drive. We offer free parking and an elevator. Schedule your consultation to get help with your family law issues.

Client Reviews
Dear Roy, I would like to thank you and all team members as well as office staff for helping me defend in this case. It has been a difficult time for me during the last couple of weeks, and now because of this success result, I am able to move forward with my new chapter of life, even a little late at this age!!! Again with much appreciation, I wish you all to continue to do the same with a big heart as it was with me, in helping those who are in need of your professional services. W.
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I want to take this time to thank you and your staff for an outstanding job with my case to terminate spousal, you are an excellent attorney Roy, and your staff is very professional and considerate to my questions and concerns of my case. Thank you very much again. T.Y.
I wanted to say how much I appreciate your help and advice in regards to my name change. Your assistance during this time has been invaluable. Thank you again. M.J.