Procedures to Take Before Filing in Family Law Courts

When considering divorce in California, spouses need to understand all the necessary procedures and steps they should take before filing in family courts. The family court rules call for pre-action procedures that require divorcing partners to resolve parenting and property settlement disputes. 

The pre-action protocols involve several procedural requirements that provide a way to start litigation. The procedures encourage settlement, and when it’s not successful, they narrow the issues in conflict to a more cost-effective and efficient court process. Read on to know what you should do before filing in family law courts. 

Types of Orders

There are two types of orders that family law courts enter. Both orders can be a consent order when couples settle disputes before filing in family law courts. 

Financial Order 

A financial order resolves disputes surrounding property and money. It determines the property couples should divide after breaking up. It sets a value on the property and divides the value between the parties. A financial order might also award maintenance to a spouse who genuinely needs support after the divorce.

Parenting Order 

A parenting order addresses all the issues involving children. It involves custody procedures, which decide where the children will live, the time they spend with the other parent, and how they make decisions about the children. It also helps to decide how often parents can communicate with their children.

Before Filing for a Financial Order

The family laws of procedure require divorcing couples to take three steps before applying for a financial order in court. These are the pre-action procedures. The steps include:

  • Full Disclosure: This step involves disclosing and sharing the parties’ specified financial or property information. The law lists the documents and information spouses should provide.
  • Participating in Dispute Resolution: Dispute resolution involves a third party who helps parties negotiate a fair agreement. Therefore, parties should participate in the negotiation in the most meaningful way possible by negotiating in good faith.
  • When negotiations fail, the spouse filing in court gives their partner a written notice of the intention to start court proceedings. The Notice of Claim includes the issues in the dispute, the orders to seek when the hearing begins, a genuine offer to resolve the disputes, and a particular time within which the other party must reply.
  • Replying the notice of claim: When the other partner receives the note of intention, they should reply within the specified time. They should respond in writing and state whether they are accepting the offer. The party should propose a genuine counteroffer to resolve the disputes.
  • When parties can’t reach an agreement after several attempts, they can resolve the dispute by filing in a family court.

Before Applying for a Parenting Order

It is crucial to resolve parenting disputes through mediation before applying for a parenting order. This is unless the children’s safety is at risk or there’s a need for an immediate court order.

The steps to take before applying for a parenting order include:

  • Attending a family dispute resolution mediation.
  • If mediation can’t resolve the issues, the filing spouse should provide the notice of claim to the other parent. Next, both parents should list their disputes and provide an offer to settle the claim. In this step, parties should exchange every document, such as the children’s school and medical records relevant to the dispute.
  • The spouse receiving the notice of claim should reply within the requested time frame. In addition, they should state whether they accept the offer to settle the dispute.
  • If the parties can’t reach a fair agreement, they can start the court proceedings.

Advantages of Pre-Action Procedures

Pre-action procedures face criticism in jurisdictions that implement them. However, their ability to promote efficiency, access to justice, and cultural change make them vital.  

In most instances, the family law rules of procedure require parties to disclose all relevant documents and information that facilitates a settlement. When the parties can’t settle, the procedures narrow all aspects of the dispute to expedite the legal process.  

Additionally, simplifying and standardizing the claim process offers consistency for couples. Finally, it promotes a culture of cooperation which leads to settling a dispute at earlier stages.  

How a Divorce Lawyer Can Help

Divorce is often a financially and emotionally draining time. The California family law practice and procedures make the process more overwhelming. Luckily, a certified divorce lawyer can help make the process easier. Some of the ways the lawyers can help include:

Providing Objective Advice

Divorce can be emotionally overwhelming, but a third-party divorce lawyer can make it less involving. Such professionals give divorcing parties objective advice based on their best interests. This intervention leads to less emotional arguments and focuses on successful litigation.

Accounting for Marital Property

A divorce lawyer understands all the family law rules of procedure. Therefore, they can follow the right steps to ensure a fair distribution of marital assets. For example, they ensure that spouses disclose all assets and collect records to ensure that the divorce negotiation addresses all the possessions.

Explaining Property Division

A divorce attorney helps divorcing spouses understand the rules governing property division after divorce. The attorney is more important when both parties have separate property they brought into the marriage.

Helping with Amicable Custody Arrangements

If children are part of a divorce, it is critical to design ideal custody arrangements, to avoid emotional trauma on the little ones. In this case, parents have to set their differences aside to take the best care of the children. Family lawyers understand the different custody procedures and can tailor the best solutions for a fair settlement.

Contact Wade Law Group Today!

The family court rules require parents to first try to resolve their disputes through a family attorney before filing for a court order. If you are within Los Gatos, CA, and the surrounding areas, you can rely on Wade Law Group for the best family law attorneys. We have extensive experience in resolving disputes surrounding divorce cases. Moreover, we have a successful track record, which assures you of having the best team by your side. You can check our website or call us at 408-842-166 to reserve an appointment.