Help! My Spouse Just Served Me with a Petition for Divorce in California!

by Bartholomew & Wasznicky on March 14, 2013

ArguejpgSo the petition for divorce came as a surprise. Before you panic, take a deep breath. You’ve got a document in your hands with a lot of legal language that you may or may not understand, so let’s go through what the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage means, and know that you will be fine. This process may be stressful, but youwillbefine.

When one spouse serves the other spouse with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the divorce process begins. The Petition is simply the document that informs a spouse that a divorce has been initiated. The Petition states the grounds for divorce, and may also make claims for property, custody of children and support.  The person filing the Petition is referred to as the “Petitioner”.

The person receiving the Petition is called the “Respondent,” which would be you. As the Respondent, you have 30 (thirty) days to file a Response to the Petition. If the Respondent (you) does not respond within thirty days, the Petitioner may ask the court to grant everything requested in the Petition.

Before you attempt to file a Response to the Petition or make any court appearance, you need to contact an experienced family law attorney to make sure you do not say or do something that would compromise your rights under California law. Property must be divided, custody issues and parenting time must be defined, and there may be issues of child and spousal support to determine. Trying to negotiate all these points yourself could have dire consequences, and affect your lifestyle, child custody and child visitation for years to come. California law defines the rights and obligations of spouses and parents on all of these issues.

It is always advisable to at least discuss any proposed agreement with a family law attorney to learn of your legal rights. California attorneys are allowed to do limited representation agreements where they only provide designated services and is a lower cost alternative to full representation on all issues.

Getting Legal Help

The experienced Sacramento Family Law Attorneys at Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP can help you navigate your divorce and child custody issues with respect and compassion. Contact Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP today for knowledgeable and respectful representation. Call us at (916) 455-5200 or email us at



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