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California Divorce 101

When a married couple wants to end their marriage, they will typically get a divorce, which legally ends the relationship. Once it is dissolved, the two parties are single and free to remarry. Every state follows unique laws for the divorce process, including California.

Before starting the process of ending your marriage, it is in your best interest to become acquainted with California’s dissolution laws. Our San Bernardino divorce attorney explains the requirements for obtaining a California divorce, important information about the process, as well as common issues that are resolved during a divorce.

Residency Requirements

Prior to filing for divorce in California, one spouse must meet the state’s residency requirement.

In order to fulfill the requirement, either spouse must:

  • Be a resident of California for six months or 180 days, AND

  • Have lived in the county you plan to file for divorce in for the last three months.

If the spouses have lived in California for six months, but have lived in different counties for at least 3 months, they can file in either county.

While married couples must meet this requirement in order to pursue a divorce, they can still file for a legal separation even if they have not met the requirement. After the time requirements have been met, they can file for an “amended petition” and proceed with the divorce process.

Divorce in California

California is a no-fault state, meaning neither couple has to provide a reason for the marriage ending. The court does not consider one person guilty or not guilty of causing the divorce. Instead, couples can file on grounds of irreconcilable differences.

However, there are many issues that must be discussed in order to finalize a divorce. Couples will have to either work together through mediation to reach favorable settlements for each party, or they can choose to go through court.

Family law issues that must be resolved in a divorce include:

  • Child custody and visitation

  • Child support

  • Spousal support

  • The division of property and debt

Custody of Children

When parents split, they will have to make decisions regarding where their child will live. The court believes it’s best for children to maintain frequent contact with both parents unless it will put their safety at risk. The court’s main goal when issuing custody orders is that it is in the child’s best interests.

If parents can work together to create a custody and visitation plan, the court will likely approve it as it shows they are willing to look past their differences to put their children’s needs first. If parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, the court will require them to attend mediation where a mediator will work with each party until they can find an agreeable resolution.

In some cases, mediation does not work out and parents refuse to agree on their custody plan. At that point, litigation in a courtroom will be necessary. When parents go to court over custody issues, the judge will get the final say in how custody will be shared.

Alimony and Child Support

Financial support is a major component of the divorce process. Some parties may need support if they were not the primary income provider or if they are the parent with primary custody of their children. Therefore, a spouse may ask the court to issue spousal maintenance or child support.

Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is payments made from the higher-earning spouse to the other during or after a divorce. Alimony can be issued during the divorce process, and often continues after the divorce is final. The purpose is to help the spouse with a smaller income to cover their typical expenses while giving them time to gain the necessary skills or education they need to find a job and become self-supporting.

All parents are required to support their children, even if they are no longer married to their children’s other parent. This is why child support is usually issued to the parent who has primary custody of the child. Child support is payments made by one parent to the other to help cover expenses for the child.

The amount of child support and alimony that one party will be required to pay depends on several different factors. A skilled San Bernadino divorce lawyer can help you find an estimate of how much financial support you can expect to receive or pay in your California divorce.

Dividing Property and Debt

California operates as a community property state, which means that in a divorce, all of the property and debt that either spouse acquired during their marriage is shared equally between the two of them.

Marital property includes:

  • Any kind of income

  • Savings

  • Physical property

  • Debts

  • Retirement funds

  • Anything other assets that either spouse own

The only property that is not split is separate property. This includes inheritances, gifts, and any property that was owned prior to the marriage. However, separate property can become marital property if marital assets are used to increase the value. If that is the case, then it will be divided in the divorce.

Seek Legal Guidance Today

California divorces can become a complicated and tedious process. Working with a California divorce attorney allows you to be sure your rights are protected. At the Law Firm of Michael R. Young, our team will always advocate for you and your children’s best interests. We understand how difficult this situation can be, which is why we will always provide you with secure and sound legal advice during the divorce process.

Contact the Law Firm of Michael R. Young at (909) 315-4588 for a consultation regarding your divorce options today.