Divorce in California
In California, divorce is also known as a dissolution of marriage. It is the legal process that terminates a legal marriage. The divorce process begins when either you or your spouse decides to terminate the marital union. This includes all legal duties and responsibilities of marriage. You need to consider the effect of filing as a petitioner or as respondent. Some clients may want to initiated a divorce proceeding while others may find it advantageous to wait and respond to a divorce petition.
Residency requirements establish jurisdiction and venue to begin a California divorce. There are two requirements that must be met: (1) One spouse must have resided in California for at least six months prior to the date of filing, and (2) that spouse must have resided in the county where filing for at least three months prior to the date of filing. In short, you must have been a resident of the county in which you are filing for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing and a California resident for at least 6 months prior to the date of filing. If you do not meet residency requirements you can file for a legal separation. Later, you can “convert” your legal separation to a divorce proceeding.
Couples often consider prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. The difference being that one is entered into before marriage while the other is entered into after marriage. Both agreements are contracts that characterize the parties’ assets, distribution of those assets, and/or other specific interests. Both documents require specific language and “disclaimers” for them to be enforceable. What is often at stake is community property or potential community interests which must be disclosed. You must also characterize any property which may be at issue.
Many divorces involve establishing the parents’ custody rights. Custody is the legal relationship that parents have with their child. Custody can be agreed to by the parents or established by a court during a divorce. Custody agreements and orders will address: (1) Legal custody – the right of the child to make decisions regarding the child’s care and development; and, (2) Physical custody – the time a parent spends with their child. Parents can reach an agreement regarding custody without court intervention. This agreement can then be entered as a court order. Otherwise, parents will attend mediation and receive recommendations about custody and parenting time.
You many have to address child support during a divorce proceeding. Child support is the ongoing and periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child. Child support can be requested by a parent or by the State of California. Child support is determined by each parent’s parenting time and each parent’s income. Child support can be requested by either parent at any time and child support cannot be “waived.” Alternately, if your child is receiving assistance from a county or the State of California, both parents can be requested to pay child support to compensate for the financial aid provided to the child.
Spousal support is also known as alimony in other states. Spousal support is a legal obligation. Spousal support is financial support in the form of payments made by one spouse to the other during separation and after divorce. Temporary spousal support are payments made after the date of separation and until a divorce is finalized. Permanent spousal support are payments made after a divorce is finalized. Spousal support is available to either a husband or wife and is awarded to help one spouse attain the marital standard of living.
In California, all assets and debts acquired during a marriage is characterized as community property. All property acquired before marriage, after to date of separation, by gift, or by inheritance is characterized as separate property. During divorce, all community property is divided while all separate property is awarded to the acquiring spouse. The division of property requires that all property be first characterized after which reimbursements and credits must be considered.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders & Civil Harassment Orders
A domestic violence restraining order is issued to prevent a party from abusing another person with who they share a close relationship. Civil harassment orders are issued for those who do not sharing a close relationship. Abuse includes causing a bodily injury, sexual assault, placing a person fear of imminent serious bodily injury, threatening, striking, harassing, destroying personal property, or disturbing the peace of another.
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