Justia Lawyer Rating
BBB Rating A+
Top Rated
Lead Counsel Rated
Yelp badge
Avvo Rating
Super Lawyers
30 Years badge
CNN Money
Reginal Chamber
Best Business of 2022 - ThreeBest Rated badge

What are the Initial Procedures for a Divorce or Legal Separation in San Diego in 2014: Summary: Part One


While the judicial council form to initiate a legal separation or divorce in San Diego Superior Court is the same, there are some significant differences. For example, in order to file for a divorce in San Diego, you must be a resident of the State of California for six months and a resident of San Diego for three months. This is a mandatory requirement and cannot be waived. In contrast, there is no residency period requirement to file for a legal separation and you can file for legal separation the day after you move to San Diego. Most of the procedures, however, are the same. In both a legal separation and divorce, a request for order is filed for temporary orders such as spousal support, child support, child visitation, child custody, attorney fee contribution and temporary exclusive use of property. In both a divorce and legal separation, you must complete the preliminary declarations of disclosure and these also cannot be waived. In both, when an agreement is reached, this agreement is submitted to the Court along with the judgment pleadings and either proof of service of the final declaration of disclosure or a waiver of the final declaration of disclosure. Another difference is that, when the judgment is entered, divorce will terminate the marital status and return both parties to legally single while a judgment of legal separation will not. A petition for legal separation can be amended before the judgment is entered by either husband or wife and this is the right of either party once the residency requirements have been met. If a judgment for legal separation is entered, and then the spouses want to divorce, a new petition for divorce must be filed.


The initial procedures include the following and there are others: file the petition and summons and all other mandatory forms and file a proof of service. For the initial pleading in a divorce or legal separation, there must be personal service. There are exceptions, of course, and one of these is the notice and acknowledgment of receipt. If the party who is to served the petition {Respondent} signs the notice of acknowledgment of receipt, then this form is filed with the Court and is considered valid service. In addition, if the party cannot be served after diligent efforts, a request can be made of the Judge for service by publication. If this is approved and the publication requirements met, then this is considered valid service. Normally, the spouse who is served will file a response to the petition with their requests. If, after valid service, no response is filed within 30 days after date of service, a request to enter default and a default trial can be set. The vast majority of the cases are not by default and due process requires notice and the opportunity to be heard and most do not want a Judge to rule on their case without their input and participation.


In California, the wife and husband in a divorce have to “self disclose” and there are significant consequences [including unequal division of the asset] if this does not occur. This is contrasted with, for example, a car accident when you are hit by another car. When the driver of that car is served a complaint for damages, they do not have to self disclose since they are not in a fiduciary relationship with the other driver. Spouses are in a fiduciary relationship and the preliminary declarations of disclosure are mandatory. The preliminary declaration of disclosure includes two judicial council forms: income and expense declaration and schedule of assets and debts. Both of these forms are designed to allow each spouse to know the assets, debts, income and other information during divorce proceedings in San Diego. It is very important that these forms are filled out accurately since they are signed under penalty of perjury.


The Law Firm of Roy M. Doppelt can help the preparation of all of the pleadings, having the pleadings filed with the San Diego Superior Court and also for service or notice of acknowledgment of receipt as well as all other necessary pleadings. The Law Firm has full time staff who can assist with the pleadings. Feel free to call the office for a confidential and complimentary virtual consultation with an attorney who will inform you of your rights and discuss your goals. The pleadings can be difficult and the forms change as well as the procedures. The Law Firm can help with making sure the forms are up to date and the procedures followed.

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.
Thank you for your time and energy on this case, you took so much of the worry away from me! I appreciate all of your help. I will use and recommend you to other in the future. T.S.
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.