The San Diego Superior Court unveiled a pilot program Saturday to help eligible parties complete a simple divorce in a day.
The program, to be offered at the downtown San Diego Family Court only, will be available to litigants who represent themselves in court and have no contested issues surrounding the marital split.
After the initial filing and serving of the petition, litigants can attain a fast, affordable and fair resolution of their simple divorce, court officials said.
"In a time when budget cuts are forcing courts all over California to limit services to the public, judges from the San Diego Superior Court, court professionals and the legal community are leading efforts to innovate improvements to the administration of justice in family law," Presiding Judge David Danielsen said.
With the help of a grant from the San Diego Bar Foundation, the court is able to provide the One Day Divorce option to the public, officials said.
The first step in the program is for litigants to sit down with a family law expert who will discuss the terms of the couple's proposed divorce settlement or the default judgment process. The next step includes completing the forms necessary to finalize the divorce. If all the necessary documents and disclosures are completed, the parties appear in court that very same day to receive their final judgment.
The goal is to have parties leave the courtroom with the final divorce judgment in their hands.
In California, 72 percent of family law litigants do not have attorneys. Simple divorces are complicated for self-represented litigants and, as a result, many cases languish in and congest the court system for years, according to officials.
"One of the biggest complaints about family court is that the process is too complicated and takes too long to complete," San Diego Superior Court Family Judge Maureen Hallahan said. "The 'One Day Divorce' program was created to help solve these problems."
—City News Service