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The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

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What is Family Law?
How do I get Divorced?
Divorce on a Budget
About Heather M.D. Green
Practicing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including:
San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and San Mateo Counties.

  How Do I Get Divorced?  
  • The process of dissolving a marriage or domestic partnership begins when one spouse or partner files a Petition with the Court closest to his or her home. The party who files the Petition becomes the Petitioner, and the other party becomes the Respondent. The Petition must be personally served on the Respondent by somebody other than the Petitioner. The Respondent must file a response to the Petition soon, or the Court may decide your case without your input ("default"). It is advisable to retain an attorney prior to filing either a Petition or a Response.
  • The dissolution process may proceed in several different ways:
    • The parties may come to an agreement, and settle without further litigation;
    • Both parties may together consult an attorney acting as a mediator, who assists the parties in coming to an agreement;
    • Each party may retain an attorney who practices collaborative law: in this case, each party is represented by their own attorney, but the attorneys (and other experts) are there only to negotiate an agreement, and do not litigate. The result is a settlement agreement that both parties sign, and have entered in Court;
    • One or both parties may retain an attorney, and litigate the matter, having the issues decided by the Court. It is still possible to reach a settlement for some or all of the issues during the litigation process, and many cases do settle prior to trial.
    • You are not limited to one process: for example, you may begin by attempting mediation, and proceed to litigation if mediation fails. The attorney who conducted your mediation, however, cannot represent either party in the litigation (unless both parties agree).
    • See Divorce on a Budget
  • The way your case plays out will depend on several factors, including: the ability of you and your spouse or partner to cooperate; the number, types, and locations of assets involved (for example, real property, stock options, investment accounts); the presence of issues regarding child custody; whether your spouse has an attorney, and so forth.
  • Your marital status can be terminated before or after the other issues have been settled or litigated, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.

All information provided on this site is for general information and illustration only, and does not constitute legal advice regarding your specific case. This information may not apply outside the state of California, and may not apply to your case due to your specific situation. No attorney-client relationship is formed unless you meet with Ms. Green and sign a retainer agreement.

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Heather M. D. Green
660 Fourth St #343
San Francisco, CA 94107
Telephone: 925-416-2020
Facsimile: 925-416-2010