It does not happen very often, but often enough to write an article about. What do you do if both husband and wife file for divorce. Meaning, you both went down and filed a petition for divorce.
The times I have seen this happen have been when both parties are upset and they run out and hire an attorney and both of them are in a rush to file for divorce first.
Many issues can arise when two petitions are filed and we will discuss what to watch out for and how to correct it.
Recently a client called me with this exact problem. They both had filed for divorce over a year ago and two petitions were filed and thus, two cases were assigned for the same divorce proceeding.
The first problem comes down to one of the parties being served or filing a response on one of the cases. As happened here, because both parties filed a petition, neither party had ever been served in the other case and nobody had responded to the other case.
Essentially, the divorce had never started, despite over a year having gone by.
So how do you fix this. Well, the first thing they needed to do is get one of the parties served so they could start the clock on the 6 month cooling off period. Generally, you could just pick the case that was filed first. But in this case, many documents were filed under the later filed case, so we decided to use that case instead.
So now that the service is complete, you will need to draft a stipulation to combined the cases and have one of the Petitions to be treated as the Response. Of course, you could always just file a Response, but you would have to pay the filing fee again.
The stipulation would simply request that the petition in one case be treated as the Response. It is not entirely difficult, but both parties must sign and submit for the courts signature.
We are a licensed and bonded legal document preparation firm in Santa Clarita, CA and serve all the courts in Los Angeles County.