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What are the options for responding to a divorce in California?

What are the options that a Californian has when served with a divorce summons? First, they need to go through the papers carefully. The Form FL-100 Petition will tell you what the petitioner (usually the spouse) wants. There is also another form, the Summons Form FL-110, which provides information about the rights and responsibilities that you have in the divorce process.

Once served, the summons contains certain restraining orders that both spouses must honor; they cannot move out of the state with their children or apply for a new passport without the other spouse's written consent or that of the court. There are also other restrictions regarding property division and other assets.

Once someone receives this summons, they may choose to do nothing. However, this means that whatever the other spouse is requesting will probably be granted. The court will also give relevant orders regarding spousal support, child support and child custody based on what the spouse has requested in the Petition. This situation is referred to as true default, since one of the spouses is defaulting by not responding at all. In this type of a divorce case, a spouse is giving up their right to fight.

A spouse can also have a written notarized agreement with the other spouse agreeing to end the marriage. In this notarized agreement, the spouse also agrees to other related matters, such as child support, custody and visitation. This is also considered a default since a spouse is not giving a response.

One partner may also choose to file a response in the court even if there is an agreement with their spouse. A response may also be filed in court, where one partner disagrees with all of these divorce matters, such as child support, alimony or property division.

Source: Courts.CA.gov, "Options to Respond," Accessed on Feb.9, 2015

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