Dissolution of Marriage: severance of the marital status; “divorced”.

“Dissolution of marriage” is the legal term used in California for a divorce. Typically, one spouse files a “petition for dissolution of marriage.” That spouse becomes the Petitioner. The other spouse must respond within 30 days. That spouse is the Respondent.

Another term that is often used, and that can be confusing, is “termination of the marital status.” Technically, the severance of the marital “status” can take place independently and at a different time than a judgment which finalizes custody, child support, spousal support, property division and allocation, and responsibility for payment of attorneys’ fees. A final judgment that includes resolution of the final issues is often referred to as “Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage,” even though the actual “status” of the marriage may have been previously terminated.

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When is my dissolution final?

You are not divorced until the final judgment of dissolution is entered. Neither dissolution nor termination of marital status can occur any earlier than six months after the day the Respondent was served with the petition. This doesn’t mean that you are automatically divorced six months after Respondent is served. Six months is a minimum amount of time that must pass before the marriage can be terminated. If the case is still pending after six months, and you wish to have the marital relationship severed in advance of the final dissolution decree, the marital status issue can be bifurcated (or separated) from the other issues and ruled on separately. However, there are financial obligations that may accompany such an action that you must seriously consider

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