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Can my wife drag her feet indefinitely in the divorce process?

Walnut Creek, CA |

We filed the Petition form with the help of a Coach Lawyer. Now that we have to proceed with the rest of the negotiations and the forms, my wife is finding excuses not to attend our next meeting with the attorney. Can she drag her feet indefinitely, or is there a time limit for the divorce process?

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Attorney answers 2

Best Answer

The judicial process is set up so one party cannot indefinitely delay the process. If the Petition has been filed under your name, and she has not filed a Response and Request for Dissolution within 30 days of service of process, you can apply to the court to take her default. In order to obtain a Judgment by default after that, you will need to serve her with your preliminary disclosure (Income and Expense Declaration, Schedule of Assets and Debts, and Declaration of Disclosure) and file with the court a Declaration re Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration.

Once your application for default is granted, and your preliminary disclosure has been completed, you can ask the court for a Judgment on the terms you would like - provided, of course, that the terms you request are supported by case law. In other words, for example, don't ask the Judge to give everything to you: the Judge's job, by law, is to ensure an equal distribution of the community estate. There are a few other forms that go with the Judgment - your local courthouse's self-help center can assist you with that.

On the other hand, if SHE filed the Petition, then you need to file your Response and Request for Dissolution, and a default is out of the question. You will still need to meet the preliminary disclosure requirements discussed above, then you will need to start seeking a trial date. Make sure you give her proper notice and then, if she doesn't show up, you will be able to get your Judgment.

I am including a link below to the California Judicial Council's page for all the forms I discussed above.

Good luck.

The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California. Responses are based solely on California law unless stated otherwise.


Your divorce will not be final until all the necessary paperwork is completed and filed with the court. A divorce can't be final until 6 months after the summons and petition are served. You don't mention any dates and where you are at in the process. You also don't mention what papers have been filed. More facts would allow me to give a more informed response;.

Note this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on. Each situation is fact specific and court specific, and it is not possible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and court pleadings filed in the case. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship