You need to be in agreement about major details of your divorce (think custody and major financial decisions) with your spouse before you can finish up your divorce. There are a few ways to go about this – mediation, negotiation, and litigation (hiring a lawyer). We at Hello Divorce believe most divorces can be resolved quickly and peacefully without litigation, so look at the next few FAQ to help you decide what you might need.
Welcome to Step 3!
You’re almost finished with your divorce. In this step, you’ll complete your final judgment to create your final divorce documents for a judge to sign.
FIRST: Make sure you are in agreement
If you haven’t already decided the terms of your settlement agreement, review this checklist to confirm things like asset division, parenting schedules, and the amount and frequency of child/spousal support payments.
NEXT: Judgment & Agreement
This questionnaire goes through all of the decisions you and your spouse have made together. It’s going to produce a lot of documents, and it’s the last thing you’ll need to finish up before the court can finalize your divorce.
How do I get to agreement with my spouse?
Mediation means you and your spouse hire a neutral third party to help you find an agreement you can both be comfortable with. This is a good choice if:
- You and your spouse have already tried to work out an agreement but can’t get to a place you both agree
- You think it will be difficult to talk to your spouse about the issues you can’t agree about
- You think your divorce would benefit from having a neutral third party helping you talk through your issues
The good news is Hello Divorce has mediators available! Click here to set up a call.
I just want to figure this out with my spouse. Is that an option?
If your issues aren’t too complicated and you and your spouse are on pretty good terms, you should be able to navigate this stage on your own. Negotiation can be by email, in person or with a trusted neutral party.
A legal coach can help you along the way with strategizing, problem solving, and guiding you through the legal process.
Can I negotiate my agreement with my spouse on my own?
Negotiating your divorce settlement takes planning, patience and action. As difficult as negotiating with your spouse might be, hiring a lawyer is costly, unpredictable, time consuming, and frustrating!
If you and your spouse are having trouble coming to an agreement, think about using a mediator asking the court for a settlement conference. This is a great opportunity for you both to learn about how the court might rule if you did decide to litigate. This outside perspective can be super helpful in pushing both of you towards an agreement.
Should I hire a lawyer?
We don’t have to tell you that hiring a lawyer and going to court for your divorce is unpredictable. No matter how well you (or your lawyer) knows the law, judges are human, too. They sometimes make mistakes and they often have a ton of discretion when applying the law.
When you and your spouse disagree profoundly about issues around your divorce, you may have no other choice than hiring a lawyer. We can help you with legal advice if you need it, and we also have lawyers that are ready to help.
Does the prove-up hearing need to be in person? Are there changes because of the pandemic?
Since the coronavirus crisis began, California has granted broader flexibility to courts to change their procedures to minimize the spread of the virus. In many cases, courts have been allowing people to appear by video conference (usually Zoom) or telephone.
What if my spouse (the Respondent) doesn't respond to my filing of divorce?
If your spouse doesn’t respond to your Petition (or initial filing) within 30 days, there may be a default judgment issued instead. If you have an uncontested divorce, this is common. Keep going with your petition, financial disclosures, and final decree, and attend your final hearing.
HI WE ARE HERE
What’s a final judgment?
A final judgment is the court’s formal order granting a termination of a marriage. The judgment is confirmed when it is signed and dated by the judge.
What do I have to do to complete the final judgment?
This is the part of your divorce where we will provide your input on the key issues (think: property, support, debt and shared parenting). The final decree of divorce will divide all your assets, set forth all matters of child custody and provide for the amount and frequency of child support payments. Depending on your membership level, we will give you instructions on what to do once you’ve completed all the final forms.
What do I need to do if I want to change my name during or after the divorce?
The final decree can also provide for the name change of either spouse to a name previously used. This usually means that the wife may use the final decree of divorce to change her last name back to her maiden name or any other name, so long as it was previously used. Learn more here.
However, you may not use a final decree of divorce to change your name to a brand new name. This requires a separate process.
What if my address changed while my divorce process was going on?
If you changed your address during the divorce process, you need to file an address change form with the court.
What if I can’t fill out all the information in the final judgment questionnaire?
Be sure not to leave blanks in the questions that will create the final judgment of divorce that you are presenting to the court. At this stage, any forms you need a judge to sign must be complete.
When will my divorce be considered final?
Your divorce is considered final as soon as the judge signs and dates the final judgment of divorce. Make sure either you or the court provides a copy of the court orders to your ex-spouse.
Do I need a lawyer to review my final judgment?
Have we mentioned it’s a really good idea to have a lawyer review your divorce forms before you submit them to the court? The terms in your divorce judgment can have a profound impact on your future and, if you are anything like us — you want to move past this point in your life and start fresh — transition to a new, healthier, mindful space.