MANY people try to file and open their own divorce case without an attorney in an effort to save on legal fees. Often, the self-represented divorce litigant would seek the assistance of the court facilitator’s office in preparing the papers to open their own divorce case. However once the divorce case is opened, many self-represented petitioners are not able to finish their divorce case to judgment for various reasons. The most common reasons are the following:
1. Improper Proof of Service of Divorce Petition
Self-represented litigants are not familiar with the code of civil procedures on how initial pleadings should be served on the opposing party and the notice requirements. As such the Court is unable to exercise jurisdiction on the other party until proper service on that party is done properly.
2. Failed to prepare and exchanged required financial disclosures
California family code requires that both parties exchange complete and accurate financial disclosures. Proof that these financial disclosures have been exchanged needs to be filed in Court. The court will not enter judgment on a divorce case unless the financial disclosure requirements are satisfied.
3. Default Judgment does not conform with the Petition for dissolution
If the respondent has been defaulted and the petitioner is moving for a default divorce judgment, the default judgment must conform to the divorce petition. If the two does not conform to each other, the court will often reject the judgment.
4. Child Support requested is not guideline
Child support in California is based on guideline. Sometimes the self-represented litigant will try to ignore child support or seek a child support order that is not based on guideline. This will result on the judgment being rejected by the Court.
5. Pension and Retirement plans were not joined
Some pension and retirement plans (such as local government retirement plans) need to be joined in the divorce action if there is a community property interest in these plans. Self-represented litigants are not aware of these rules and often ignore this requirement.
6. QDRO was not prepared to divide Pension and Retirement plans
Certain pension and retirement plans that are covered by ERISA requires a qualified domestic relations order to be divided (QDRO). Self-represented litigants often ignore this requirement. As a result, the plan is not divided.
7. Unequal division of community property in default divorce cases
If there is no settlement agreement, then the court has to divide the community property and debt equally between the parties. Often, self-represented parties will try to propose or prove up an unequal division of community property and debt usually in their favor.
Trying to save on legal fees by handling your own divorce case could turn into a nightmare if your case has issues that needs to be handles a certain way. It is like trying to fix your own plumbing problem if you have no plumbing experience, it could end up costing you more. If you opened up your divorce case but cannot seem to finish it due to some issues, it is best to seek the help of a highly qualified family law attorney.
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Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does create any attorney client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, APLC. This article is not a solicitation.
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Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist. He was President of the Philippine American Bar Association. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, APLC is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 747, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail [email protected] or visit our website at Kenreyeslaw.com