30 Sep 2019

Steps for getting a divorce or dissolution of marriage in California

Steps for getting a divorce or dissolution of marriage in California

Getting a divorce or dissolution of marriage as it’s also called in California, can be a very complex matter, depending on wether the couple has assets and minor children, we recommend getting legal advice from a divorce attorney. This article is an overview of some basic steps for filing for divorce in California.

Step 1. Protect Yourself, Your Children, and Your Property

If you think your spouse might become violent, or kidnap the children, or take money from bank accounts or conceal other property, there are ways to protect yourself. This might involve a court order to prevent domestic violence, notifying childcare providers or schools that a child should only be released to you, or securing a passport for your child to prevent removal from the country. You can get a court order preventing the disposal of assets, or secure them yourself (just be sure to account for them, since you don’t want your spouse to claim that you illegally took them).

Step 2. Make Sure You Meet Residency Requirements

To file for divorce in California, you must have been a resident of California for at least six months, and of the county where you will file for at least three months.

Step 3. Gather Information

For the California divorce process, you will need to show—for both you and your spouse—how much you earn, what you own, and what you owe to creditors. Make copies of important documents, such as bank and investment statements, mortgage and loan documents, credit card statements, pay stubs, W-2 forms and tax returns, deeds, vehicle titles, life and health insurance documents, and utility bills, and make sure you have your spouse’s Social Security and driver’s license numbers. You will also need to estimate your monthly living expenses.

Step 4. Decide If You Need Temporary Alimony or Child Support

You will need to support yourself, and possibly your children, during the divorce process. This can be done with temporary spousal support and child support orders, which will require completing and filing additional forms.

Step 5. Determine Which Procedure to Use

California has a traditional dissolution of marriage procedure and a summary dissolution of marriage procedure. To qualify for the summary procedure, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You and your spouse agree to the divorce.
  • You do not have children.
  • You were not married for more than five years before separating.
  • You don’t have real estate, and only have a residential lease that expires within one year of filing and does not include a purchase option.
  • There are no debts over $6,000, other than auto loans.
  • Community property has a value of less than $41,000, and each party has no more than $41,000 in separate property, not including autos and encumbrances.
  • You and your spouse have a written agreement dividing the property and debts, and have executed required title transfers.
  • You and your spouse waive your right to spousal support, and rights to appeal and to ask for a new trial.
  • You and your spouse have read a brochure about the summary procedure.

If any of these requirements are not met, you will need to use the regular procedure.

Step 6. Prepare the Necessary Forms

The official California divorce forms may be obtained from the court clerk, various online sources, or from publications at your local library. You will need to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, as well as financial disclosure forms. If you are using the summary procedure, there will be a separate set of forms. If you have minor or dependent children, there also will be forms relating to child custody and child support.

Step 7. File Your Forms

Take your completed forms to the clerk’s office of the Superior Court. You will need to pay a filing fee.

We recommend that you hire the services of a professional legal support company for this the court filings and the service of process, when the documents will be delivered to your spose.

Step 8. Notify Your Spouse

Your spouse must receive proper notice of the divorce having been filed. This is done in one of three ways: (1) your spouse signs forms that show he or she is aware of the proceedings (in the summary proceeding your spouse will also sign the Petition); (2) your spouse is legally served with copies of certain court papers; or (3) a proper legal notice has been published (if you are unable to locate your spouse).

Step 9. Attend Court Hearings and Provide Additional Documents

Unless you use the summary procedure, there will be at least one court hearing. You might need to provide other documents that the judge requests. One form to be prepared is a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage for the judge to sign, thereby making the divorce final.

Step 10. Wait for the Judgment

There is a California divorce waiting period of six months between the time the Petition is filed and the time the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is “final.” Both you and your spouse will be sent a certified copy of the Judgment.

01 Aug 2019

The Legal Aspects of Getting Separated

The Legal Aspects of Getting Separated
Many people view legal separation as a step toward a divorce and, while it may be that, it is also an important legal process in its own right. Therefore, it is important for couples to understand their rights and the legal effects of their separation.

Issues that Can be Addressed in a Legal Separation

A married couple may decide to separate or live apart at any time without permission of the court. However, when the couple announces their intent to live apart to the court, then they are seeking a legal separation. Since a legal separation is a court proceeding, there are matters that may be decided by a judge. For example, issues such as child custody, child support and spousal support are commonly decided in legal separations. However, it is important to note that all of these things may be revised, or retracted if the couple seeks a divorce.

Differences Between Legal Separations and Divorces

The parties involved in a legal separation are legally bound to comply with the terms of the court order, however they are still considered to be a married couple because they do not have an official divorce decree.
Furthermore, a legal separation is often ordered without any delay on the part of the court because the consequences of a separation are not permanent. In many states, couples who seek a divorce may only be granted a divorce after they have gone through a waiting period. The waiting period is meant to ensure that the couple truly wants to be divorced and to end their marriage. Since a separation does not end a marriage and may be revoked with the mutual consent of the spouses, no waiting period is necessary.
Separations are often sought by couples who no longer wish to live together as husband and wife but who want to maintain certain benefits of marriage such as tax benefits, social security benefits,  or pension benefits, by couples who are religiously opposed to divorce, and by couples who are unsure about whether to file for divorce.

How to File for a Legal Separation

A legal separation is an important legal proceeding that can have an immediate impact on your life and may influence divorce proceedings. Therefore, it is important to consult with a family law attorney before filing a legal separation. Your lawyer will help you file a petition or legal separation with the court that will include how you want financial and child custody matters handled during your separation. If your spouse has no objections than the court will likely grant the separation. However, if your spouse objects to the separation or to the terms of the separation than a hearing will likely be held before the separation is granted unless both spouses agree to work things out privately or to seek the help of a mediator. Once both spouses agree and sign the separation agreement it will be approved by a judge, filed with the court and the parties will be legally separated and bound by the terms of their separation agreement.

Seek the help of  an Experienced Family Lawyer and a Service of Process company

The Active Legal has many years of experience dealing with court research and proceedings. We can help you retrieve or file the legal separation papers. Visit our website https://theactivelegal.com or call us at (619) 233-1478

03 May 2019

Court Researcher in San Diego

Court Researcher in San Diego

Court research is a process by which Active Legal Services visits the local courts and retrieve requested legal documents.

Some counties offer certain documents online, however, we can visit the local courthouse to get the public records you need for your convenience. 

Law Firms and companies need different information for different reasons, it’s not always the same type of records. Whether you are an attorney, a company, a small business or an individual, we can visit the courthouses in the San Diego city area or surrounding areas to retrieve documents from public records.

Some examples that can be retrieved are:

  • A land deed
  • Marriage license
  • Judgment or foreclosure documents 

We can retrieve other personal information like for example names, addresses, last known employers and case numbers. 

How do you search for the records?

This may depend on the courthouse. Some courthouses keep records in large, heavy books while others may have everything on the computer. Other courthouses may have their records in both places.

There is nothing to keep you from searching through the records since it is public information. If you don’t know where they are, you should, of course, ask someone at the courthouse. After you’ve done the work for a while, you’ll know where to go and things won’t seem so intimidating.

If you are a Law Firm and need a court researcher who can work at great speed we are the perfect match for you. We have many years of experience and are well versatile in finding the most efficient ways to search for records.

Do you visit different courthouses?

The Active Legal court researchers visit courthouses in San Diego County but also in surrounding counties. We try to make our work as useful as possible for our clients. When we have to travel a long distance, there may be some additional fees for travel expenses for mileage and gas; however, our prices are very competitive and upfront.

04 Feb 2019

Legal Support Services in San Diego

Legal Support Services in San Diego

The Active Legal is a leading Attorney Services provider in Southern California with extensive expertise in the industry. Having over two decades of experience in the business, we provide a superior legal support service to all our clients. Our continued commitment to providing superior legal support has helped to assist thousands of simple and complex cases to completion. Therefore is a testimonial of our outstanding success in the legal service field.

You can count on us for legal support services in the following areas;

Court Research Services: We provide court research services on a case by case basis. Our legal support staff will conduct online searches, retrievals, act as case monitors (follow all filings, orders, memoranda/opinions and decisions within a case), and in the event you need information for a closed case, we will conduct archive retrieval for all courts nationwide and the Federal Records Center.

Court Services: We offer attorney court services which include court filings, pick-ups and general administrative representation on a retainer. Our expert representative will cross-check all pick-ups and documents related to assignments to ensure that all is well with the package, conduct routine checks, looking out for possible problems such as missing signature, etc. Our in-house supervisor will also double-check for any possible defects that can cause delays in your assignment.

Non-Retainer Court Filings: The Active Legal support services team continues to provide excellent court filing service among other attorney services and support our growing list of clients. The Active Legal has the experience and knowledge to expedite even the most complex and demanding requests. We provide an experienced, dependable and cost-effective service to the San Diego area and across the country.

Fax Filings: Fax filings is at the heart of what we do. We offer fast and accountable service customized to each client’s specific needs.

Out of County Filings: Our services are nationwide. Although we operate from San Diego County, we are able to offer court filing, e-filing, process serving, document retrieval, and skip tracing or notary services for clients outside San Diego.

Courier Services: We offer a fast, accountable and customized miscellaneous deliveries/messenger services for clients within and outside San Diego. Our service is efficient and reliable with our messenger service personnel always on call, ready to come to your aid at any time.

Service of Process: The Service of process is nothing more than a competent professional that will be responsible to deliver legal documents to the respondent in a divorce or any other legal case. In many states like in California, the petitioner applying for the divorce, cannot deliver the documents by themselves.

Although, by law, any person older than 18 years who is not involved in the action can deliver the documents, some states require court approval if the person is not a process server.

All these formalities, are validated by affidavit of service or proof of service, which must be notarized and delivered to the person or company that required the submission of documents.

The work of the Service of process is very important because it ensures respect for due process in the United States, but also, if the service is performed incorrectly, the case cannot continue and will have to start again. The use of a processes server may avoid mistakes of inexperienced persons.

Our local, process servers are always on call and are ready to come to your aid any time you need them.

Investigation: We offer Private Investigator services to our clients who need it. We have licenced investigators with over 20 years of experience, armed with the right tools in finding people who are difficult to find and many not wanting to be found.

Small Claims: We make small claims easy. The Active Legal small claims court services will help you prepare the forms, fight the lines at court, file your case, serve your papers and file your Proof of Service!

At Active Legal Attorney Services, we pride ourselves in keeping a professional relationship with our clients, as we always strive to make their lives better by providing them with expedient and reliable services.

Our firm promise is to provide efficient services for every job we undertake.

20 Nov 2018

Guide on how to file a Small Claim and win

Guide on how to file a Small Claim and win

If you are thinking of the low hassle way of taking up legal action of small sums between $5,000 and $10,000 against an individual or a firm, the small claims court is the way to go. This threshold varies by state. But you have to be careful and be confident you have a case before going to the small claims court. The essence of a small claims court is to make it easy for everyone and to avoid expensive and lengthy lawsuits. On the day of the hearing, all you have to do is go to the court with your evidence. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to a lawyer but some states demands that you come alone. The small claims court is a cost-effective and easy process.

If you are stuck with a builder who messed up your bathroom, or you bought something, and the shop refuses to make a refund, here’s a guide to help you on how to leverage the small claims court.

File a Complaint

You will have to file a complaint with your county. Speak to the clerk of your county’s court, many courts have documents where you fill out the information regarding your specific case – most times, a summons for the other party and a complaint which is you. Usually, you will have to pay for the filing of your case. The firm or individual being sued must receive a copy of the lawsuit in other to defend themselves.

Preparing your case

It doesn’t matter whether you are the plaintiff or defendant in a small claims court, it is important that you show up in court so that your side of the case can be heard. If you are absent, it is most likely that the judge will not rule in your favor. Ensure to come with supporting documents and witnesses on the case. This can determine the success or failure of the lawsuit

How to comport yourself and dress in court

When going to a court, you must recognize that how you dress and your behavior in general can affect your lawsuit. Be respectful. If you do not agree with the judge or the other party, do not interrupt them. Be audible when answering questions – don’t shake or nod your head. If you are getting angry or irritated at the way the process is going, pause for a moment and take a deep breath. Lastly, dress correctly – no shorts, t-shirt or sneakers.

Collecting your money after winning

Losing in a small claims court is not the end of the road, you can file an appeal if you are the defendant, but if you are the plaintiff, the case is simply over. But before you do this, you must have fresh evidence or new information that backups your appeal that the judge ruled the case in error. With this, you can find yourself winning the case. When you do, you need to collect the money from the other party who will definitely not want to pay you. You can ask for a lien or garnishment against the other party’s property. This, you have to do yourself, but the court can assist by giving you an order of authorization for this collection.

Brace Yourself

When someone takes you to court or vice versa, there are expectations of how you hope the process turns out. In a court case, there’s no such thing as a good case because anything can happen. The small claims court is not designed to punish people or prove points. It is basically about who owes what and to whom? Be realistic with your expectations and brace yourself for anything. It will help you manage your emotions during the process.

Small claims court is a good and cost-effective way of resolving other suits or small collections without necessarily needing an attorney. They are a great place to seek legal solutions to problems.

07 Aug 2018

Suing in California Small Claims Court

Suing in California Small Claims Court

What is Small Claims?

Small claims court is a useful and widely used legal tool by individuals, small companies and even corporations that need to resolve their disputes quickly and inexpensively, without the need to hire an attorney.

They are not very formal proceedings, both parties in litigation present their evidence and arguments directly to the judge. The judge then renders a verdict after hearing both sides of the case.

What Kinds of Cases Can I Bring in Small Claims Court?

Small claims courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, you can only bring some specific types of cases, for example:

  • Civil cases that don’t involve more than $10,000.
  • Contract disputes
  • Personal injury claims
  • Cases involving damages to your personal property

Keep in mind that small claim courts are not the right place to argue with your ex-spouse regarding child support, visitation, spousal support or probate cases.

Can I Hire a Lawyer?

Many states do not allow parties to be represented by lawyers in small claims court however you are allowed and we encourage you to talk with an attorney relating the type of case you are going to be bringing to court, that way you are well prepared to handle the case. Here at The Active Legal we can help you prepare, file and prepare your small claims case.

What Happens When I File My Lawsuit?

When you file your small claims lawsuit, the court will notify the opposing party by issuing a summons to appear in court. You will then have to attend court to prove your case. Many states, such as California, provide mediators to help the parties make one last effort at resolving their disputes before taking the case to the judge.

What Should I Bring to Court?

When your court date arrives, you should bring with you anything that will help prove your case or defend against the claims of the opposing party. This could include copies of contracts you signed with the opposing party, receipts for disputed purchases, or photos of injuries or damage caused by the opposing party. You should also bring with you any witnesses whom you wish to testify on your behalf. If a witness refuses to attend, you should speak to the court clerk about issuing a subpoena to require the witness to attend.

What if the Other Party Doesn’t Show?

If a party does not appear on the court date, the court most likely will enter a default judgment against the absent party. The party that did show can then have that judgment enforced in court. In rare cases, the court may postpone the case if the other party was absent due to an actual emergency, such as a medical emergency or a car accident, but the judge usually has total discretion over whether to do so.

Can I Appeal a Small Claims Judgment?

Most states have some way to appeal a small claim’s verdict, but the process and the parties’ rights to an appeal vary from state to state. Many states put strict time limits on filing appeals, and some states allow small claims cases to be appealed to different courts, such as the superior or district court for the jurisdiction. Litigants wishing to appeal a small claims case should consult their state’s laws to determine what rights they have to an appeal if any.

Statutes of Limitation

In many states, the time limit on filing, otherwise known as the statute of limitations, will depend on the type of claim. In California, for example, you have 4 years to make a claim on a written contract, and 3 years to file for property damage. The statute of limitations on oral contracts and personal injury is a little shorter, you only have time within 2 years.

 

 

30 Mar 2018

Legal steps to file for separation or divorce by mutual agreement in California

Legal steps to file for separation or divorce by mutual agreement in California

A legal separation or divorce is without any doubts a very stressful and difficult situation for many married couples in California, yet every year thousands of spouses seek the help of a “documents preparer” for assistance with their divorce case because they don’t know the necessary steps to prepare or serve their divorce papers.

Legal steps for filing for divorce in California

Let’s remember that California law allows for a “no fault” divorce, which means that in the state of California the spouse asking for a divorce doesn’t need to prove any wrongdoing by the other spouse. A typical divorce case could last 6 months from start to finish and you can consider yourself completely divorce and legally able to enter into a new marriage only when you receive the final divorce certificate carried out by the judge who proceeded your case.

The first step to carry out when an individual decides to file for divorce is to deliver the “Summons and Complaint” to the spouse. This will inform your spouse that you are asking for a divorce. It’s important to hire a legal courier service or service of process company or a trustworthy third party who can deliver the Summons because the party requesting the divorce is not allowed to serve these papers.

There are two ways to present your divorce case: by mutual agreement or contentious, the latter will be when the spouses don’t reach an agreement regarding some of their assets, child support, custody, etc. However, the divorce by mutual is very common and most people can carry out the entire divorce papers by themselves.

Let’s review some of the steps for filing for a divorce by mutual agreement:

The divorce proceedings start when you file your divorce with the local family court. The law requires the following documents to accompany the petition:

  • Certificate of marriage
  • Birth certificate of children (if any)
  • The proposal for an agreement
  • The final agreement reached between the couple.

It is very important to work with your spouse to find common ground and work together or even with the assistance of an attorney to create and finalize the proposal for agreement.  The proposal will dictate a lot of the responsibilities for each spouse towards each other and their children after the divorce, it will include some of the following terms:

  • Child custody and visitation: who will be the primary guardian of the children, who has rights to visitation as well as a visitation schedule.
  • Visitation and communication with their grandparents.
  • Who will be keeping the assets acquired during marriage such as home, cars, furniture, appliances, etc.
  • Who will be responsible for the debt acquired during the marriage.
  • Child support: usually through the monthly payment for the care, health, food and education of the children.
  • Spousal support: this usually occurs when the husband or wife have to make monthly payments for a certain number of years to the other spouse who has suffered an illness or in the case that this spouse has dedicated to the care of the home and children, without being able to take a paid job during their marriage.

After the agreement is complete and presented to the court in California, a judge will have ten days to notify the parties. If the agreement is not missing important information, the court may render a judgement of divorce and approve the agreement, making it an official order which both parties must abide after the divorce.

 

 

19 Jan 2018

How To Serve Divorce Papers

How To Serve Divorce Papers

If you filed the divorce papers, you must serve (give) copies of your court papers to your spouse but you need to make sure you follow the legal procedure to deliver all divorce paperwork.

There are special guidelines and strict deadlines on how to serve the divorce papers. Not following them may bring as a consequence a delay on your divorce or even a fine.

What kind of documents have to be delivered to your spouse?

The first papers that are to be delivered legally to your spouse are:

  • Summons and Complaint (usually called the “Summons”)
  • Any other paper or document that you will present in court in relation with your divorce

It’s very important that the summons be delivered to your spouse within 90 days or your divorce case will be dismissed.

Can I serve the papers myself?

No. There are several ways to do the service of process legally, but you may not be the person who delivers them. You can ask a family member, a friend or pay a courier service business to act as the server. The person must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Not involved in your divorce case

What does the person doing the service of process do?

The person who serves the divorce papers has to:

  • Give a copy of your court papers to your spouse personally
  • Fill out and sign the Proof of Service on the back of a copy of the citation form and give it to you

Can you send the divorce papers by mail?

Yes. You can send them by registered or certified mail and restrict the delivery to your spouse and delivery confirmation. Keep in mind this type of service will only work if your spouse accepts the delivery of the registered mail. We strongly advise to contact a legal courier service and ask about their service of process before you attempt to send the divorce papers via mail.

How do I make the delivery of the other papers presented in the court?

The only papers that are important to be delivered in person and that you can’t deliver yourself to your spouse are the divorce Summons and the first divorce papers. Once you have completed that part you can deliver any other Court documents in person or any other way you prefer, for example, you could:

  • Send a copy of the documents to the last known address of your spouse
  • Hand deliver the documents to your spouse in person
  • Deliver a copy of the documents to any adult who lives at your spouse’s place of residence
  • Hire a legal courier delivery service to deliver the documents for you

The person who delivers the papers has to fill out and sign a copy of the Proof of Delivery and indicate which documents were delivered.