The Petition – Header – what to Petition for

The Petition – Header – what to Petition for

This blog promised (on December 9, 2013) to ” address other items found in the Petition and Response.”

  • The Petition is available here at the California Judicial Branch website.  (If you wish to end a domestic partnership, please check here.)
  • The Response is here.

Family law proceedings can be adversarial but do not have to be.  The parties are not identified as “plaintiff” and “defendant” as in other civil actions.  Additionally, one party is not versus or vs. the other.  In fact, the law states that the parties are named “Petitioner” and “Respondent” and the action is to be titled:  In re the marriage of _____ and _____.  Fam. Code § 2330.  It is up to the parties if they want to maintain this less than adversarial posture.

The first question one must address (after filling in the parties’ names and the court address) is what is it the person wants:  Dissolution, Legal Separation, or Nullity.

  • At the end of a dissolution proceedings, the parties will have resolved all issues related to support (child and spousal), the custody/visitation of children, the division of community property, and the payment of attorney’s fees.  The parties will also return to the status of unmarried persons.  Fam. Code § 2300.
    • Not everyone knows that a dissolution (or divorce) will end one’s marriage.  Click here for an example.
  • A Legal Separation will address the same substantive areas listed above.  However, the parties are still married; they are not single nor free to marry (until the marriage is dissolved).
    • The grounds for dissolution and legal separation are irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity.  Neither party needs to prove fault.  In fact, absent statutory exception, evidence of specific acts of misconduct are improper and inadmissible.  Fam. Code § 2335.
  • A nullity may be used when the marriage at its inception was void (in other words – the parties could not have been married because of bigamy, incest, or procedural issues).  Nullity proceedings are rare.  For additional information, see Fam. Code § 22002212.

Before completing either a Petition or Response, you should talk to an experienced family law attorney.

Next up:  Line 1: Residence.