Divorce is difficult no matter how friendly you are with your spouse. You can reduce the stress and the expense of divorce if you can reach agreement with your spouse on key issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support and property division. A good California divorce lawyer should not only be a good litigator; they should also be able to help you to reach an amicable agreement. Of course, when that proves impossible, a good attorney can also present your case in the best possible light to a divorce court judge.
In California, you can end your marriage through one of two procedures:
- Dissolution of marriage: This is a traditional divorce that requires one or more hearings before a judge, or
- Summary dissolution of marriage: You and your spouse agree on the divorce, you have no children, you don’t have real estate, you don’t have community property valued over $41,000, you and your spouse both waive your rights to spousal support, and you meet certain other requirements that lend themselves to a simple, fast procedure.
If you qualify for summary dissolution of marriage, you may want to consider doing it yourself, though it cannot hurt to seek a free consultation with a good divorce lawyer before you proceed. But when you are facing custody, support and property issues that will have a continuing impact on your life, you would be wise to get a California family law attorney to protect your rights throughout your divorce proceedings.
Grounds for Divorce in California
You do not need to show that one of the spouses is at fault to get a divorce in California, because it is a no-fault state. Divorces are usually based on irreconcilable differences. However, bad behavior can still impact property division and spousal support.
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In order to file for divorce in California, you or your spouse must be able to show that you have been a resident of California for six months and a resident of the county where you plan to file for three months.
How Long You Must Wait for a Final Judgment
In California, you must wait at least six months from the time you file your petition to dissolve your marriage and the time the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is final.
Basic Information to Provide to the Divorce Court
Each spouse will need to provide information to the divorce court. This includes
- List of property owned
- Debts owed
You should gather together documents such as
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Mortgage documents and deeds
- Loan documents
- Credit card statements
- Pay stubs
- Investment documents
- Health insurance documents
- Social security number
- Driver’s license number
- Living expenses estimate
- Utility bills
- Vehicle titles
Division of Property
California is a community property state, which means that any income earned or property acquired during the marriage is considered the property of both spouses. Should a couple get divorced, community property is divided equally. Property brought into the marriage or inherited is usually not considered to be community property.
Spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, may be awarded under some circumstances but usually for a limited time. You need not wait to get spousal support. To avoid putting one of the spouses in a difficult financial situation during the divorce proceedings, temporary spousal support may be awarded until the court issues a final decree when the divorce is finalized. See our page Spousal Support in California (link to page) for more information.
Child support is often one of the most contested issues in a divorce proceeding where the couple has children. You can get temporary child support at the beginning of the divorce proceedings, so the children have the financial support they need until the final divorce decree and child support order is issued. For more information, see our page Child Support in California (link to page).
Perhaps more than any other divorce issue, if you can reach an agreement with your spouse concerning physical and legal custody of your children and visitation rights, the better it will be for all parties. However, if that is not possible, there are many factors your lawyers should to present to the court so it can make a decision in the best interests of the child. See our page Child Custody and Visitation in California (link to page) to learn more.
Call Ghazi Law Group for a Free Consultation
Even if you are only considering divorce, it is wise to learn where you stand. The experienced California divorce lawyers at Ghazi Law Group are happy to meet with you to discuss your concerns and explain your rights. Call us for a free consultation at (818) 839-6644 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org