How to Get Divorce Status Information in California
By Teo Spengler
Updated January 08, 2020
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Checking divorce status means figuring out if a divorce case is complete. Has the divorce been entered yet, or is it still pending?
Divorce status is public information in almost every state. It’s possible for someone to check their own divorce status and even the divorce status of another person if they have the information necessary to identify the case such as the name of the court and the case number.
Understanding the Divorce Process
A divorce or dissolution is a legal process that terminates a marriage. Today, all states permit no-fault divorces, in which it’s not necessary for one spouse to accuse the other of bad behavior to win the right to end the marriage. That means that if either spouse wishes to end the marriage, the other spouse cannot stop them.
A divorce action begins when one spouse files a dissolution petition with the court. The petition is served on the other spouse, who must respond within a limited period of time. At that point, a divorce is underway, but the parties are not yet divorced. In fact, some state laws impose a waiting period between the divorce filing and the resolution of the case, which can take a few months or a few years.
Divorce issues are often disputed, including family support, property division and child custody. When this happens, each party collects evidence that supports his position. Discovery requests are an effort to learn the evidence that the other side is relying on. Once discovery is complete, the court sets a trial date. At trial, each side presents its arguments. When it’s finished, the court weighs the evidence.
Divorce Decree Entered
Eventually, the parties reach a compromise, or the court rules on all the issues and enters a judgment of divorce. This essentially ends the divorce case, although the parties might file post-judgment motions and sometimes even appeals.
At the point that judgment is entered, the divorce case status changes. The case is finished. Remember that divorce status is nothing more than a way for the court system to distinguish between a final divorce and a pending divorce.
Read More: How to Obtain a Divorce Decree From California
Learning the Case Status
Once the divorce is final, the court notifies the parties by sending each party a copy of the divorce decree or judgment with the date of entry stamped on it. But an individual who is counting down the days might want to know sooner.
There are a variety of ways to find out the status of the divorce. It’s possible for someone in a divorce case to call the clerk of the court and check on the status of the case. When a judgment or final order is entered, the court file will reflect it, and a court clerk can pass on that information by phone. Similarly, the party can ask her attorney or her attorney’s office to call and check for her.
Checking Case Status Online
It’s often equally possible to check the status of a divorce case online if the judicial district offers online files. In that case, anyone with the case name and number can review the filings in a case online, including the entry of judgment. If it is important to know whether the divorce has been entered as soon possible, check the file online every day after the trial is finished.
Even if the court does not provide a way for parties to check on the status of their cases online, some private websites provide this service. With the case name and number, it is possible to check the status of the case online for a fee.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.