40+ Years’ Collective Experience Handling Divorces in California
The dissolution of marriage—known as divorce—is quite overwhelming, with many considerations. All too often, emotions are high and the process can have a significant effect on each person’s overall life Divorce requires a detail-oriented approach to handling the multiple issues that are involved.
- These issues involved in divorce include the following:
- Spousal support
- Prenuptial agreements
- Division of marital property
- Child custody
The Law Office of Michael R. Young takes pride in our devotion to understanding your needs and objectives. We have a proven track record of advocating our clients’ rights during all phases of the divorce process, negotiations, and court appearances. We have experienced divorce lawyers who are familiar with the intricacies of the Riverside and San Bernardino Family Courts. Let us help you!
AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, our firm is dedicated to excellence. Do not hesitate to call (909) 315-4588 for a complimentary consultation with a member of our firm.
What Is the Difference Between Separation & Dissolution?
Legal separation and the dissolution of a marriage are two separate proceedings related to the status of the marriage. Dissolution is the actual termination of the marital relationship. Legal separation, on the other hand, does not actually legally dissolve the marriage, but creates an avenue for determining and resolving each spouse’s financial responsibilities to each other and their children prior to dissolution.
Understanding the Divorce Process in California
In California, marriage may dissolved only by:
- Death of a spouse,
- The judgment of a court decreeing a dissolution of marriage
- Judgment of nullity.
California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that neither spouse must prove that the other spouse was responsible for the cause of divorce. The Legislature eliminated the fault-based system after carefully determining that the changes in the needs of society were compelling enough for dissolution to be based on a breakdown of the marriage relationship, rather than some kind of guilt or fault.
- Either spouse may file for divorce on one of two grounds:
Irreconcilable differences are the primary basis for granting divorce in California. These are the grounds determined by the court for not continuing the marriage, and thus, dissolving it. The purpose is to indicate to the court that substantial marital problems have significantly impaired the marriage to the extent that the objectives of matrimony have broken down and/or have been eliminated.
Incurable insanity as a grounds for divorce is to prevent the continuation of a marriage between a sane person and one who is insane without hope for recovery. This requires proof, including medical or psychiatric testimony, that the other spouse is insane at the time of the petition and that there is no hope for recovery.
If the dissolution is granted, the court may still order that the sane spouse continue in providing support for the insane spouse, depending on the circumstances.
Important Documents in a Divorce
In addition to the emotional toll that a divorce can take on both you and your children, it can also affect your financial situation. For this reason, if support is requested or if there are disputes concerning the division of property, it is important that you keep original or duplicate copies of financial records.
- Keep important financial records pertaining to the following:
- Checking / Savings Accounts
- Certificates of Deposit
- Security Boxes
- Stock Brokerage Accounts
- Insurance Policies
- Car Documentation
- Loan Applications
- Credit Card Agreements
- Retirement Accounts
- Mutual Funds
- Real Estate Investments
- Tax Returns (5 years)
- Business Documents
Before you make the decision to divorce, you should keep an accurate record of your personal expenses, establish a credit card in your name, and save some money. It would also be in your best interest to contact our experienced San Bernardino divorce attorneys who can advise you of any other steps you should take before coming to a final decision. Our firm is ready to help. Contact us today.
Is There a Waiting Period in California?
The Legislature has control over marriage, and as such, has complete power to dictate the terms and conditions under which marriage may be dissolved. There are certain residency requirements that must be met prior to filing for divorce. At least one spouse must reside in California for at least six months prior to the divorce, and must reside in their county for at least three months. California also requires a six-month waiting period from the beginning of the case before a divorce may be approved.
This may seem confusing; how is that two people can get married cheaply, effortlessly, and swiftly, but the law governing divorce is seems to be the opposite?
The answer is our courts hold that the preservation of marriage is imperative to maintaining society. While some disagree, the law has decided that there is great importance in preserving the integrity of marriage, to encourage its continued place in society, prevent separation, and encourage reconciliation. While the law does support marriage as a matter of public policy, it also does not impose strict restrictions to discourage divorce where the purpose for continuing the marriage has broken down.
Will I Have to Pay Spousal Support?
California is a community property state, which means that when a marriage is dissolved, all income earned during the marriage is subject to a 50-50 split. However, the division of income does not end with this split of marital income. The court may order one of the parties to pay spousal support to the other party. This support may be ordered to be paid during and/or after the divorce process. There is no set formula as to how the courts determine spousal support amounts and length of time.
The court will consider certain factors when making its decision, including:
- Length of marriage
- Standard of living
- Earning capacity
- Whether obtaining a job would have a negative impact on child care
- Each party’s age and health
- Debts and/or tax considerations
- Any history of domestic abuse in the relationship
- Any professional licenses
- Whether one spouse aided the other in obtaining education
In marriages lasting fewer than 10 years, the court will not usually order spousal support for more than a period equal to half the marriage period. Sometimes, neither spouse is in need of spousal support at the time of dissolution. However, either party may ask the court to reserve jurisdiction to order spousal support in the future if circumstances change. For example, one spouse may become seriously ill, or lose their employment, and as a result, are in need of support they did not previously need.
When alimony is ordered, the spouse receiving support will usually need to pay both federal and state income taxes. Respectively, the other party would be entitled to certain tax deductions. Given these factors affecting the possibility of an order for spousal support, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that orders are drafted correctly and to protect your interests.
How Do We Handle the Division of Property?
Because of the community property laws of California, it is important to discuss with your spouse and agree upon an equitable division of the property. When the couple cannot agree upon division of property, the court will differ to the community property law and make its own determination as to how to distribute the 50-50 split. At this point, the judge will determine what he or she believes to be the “just and right” manner in which each spouse receives a distribution of the property.
In handling property division, it is important to determine when the property was obtained. Was the property before or during the marriage? Property acquired prior to the marriage is considered the separate property of the acquiring spouse and is not subject to community property laws. However, there may be circumstances in which separately acquired property, or money, was transformed into community property at some point during the marriage.
For example, suppose each spouse had separate checking accounts prior to being married, with each account holding $5,000 and $3,000. When the couple married, they kept their separate accounts. However, the couple later decided to consolidate their checking accounts, creating one joint account and combining the balances. In doing so, the couple agreed to give up their separate ownership of their $5,000 and “transformed” the money into $8,000 of community property, now subject to a 50-50 split.
It is also crucial to agree on a value for the marital property and deciding how to divide the property. Doing so will aid ensuring that each spouse is receiving an equal share of what they are entitled. Furthermore, reaching an agreement as to property division prevents the courts from making its own determination of the division of property. An attorney can assist in negotiating these aspects of the property and helping you and your spouse reach an amicable division of the property with minimal court intervention. Or conversely, it may be necessary to hire an attorney to protect your property interest.
What About Child Custody & Child Support?
Child custody is an emotional aspect of divorce. It is important for both spouses to remember that custody seeks to achieve one result: a situation that is in the best interests of the child. Just as in property division, spouses are strongly encouraged to amicably reach a resolution on their own, keeping in mind that the arrangement must benefit the child and not just the needs of the parents. When parents fail to agree on an arrangement that benefits the rights and support of the child, the courts will begin to get involved. The court will increase its authority if a settlement is not reached, and may result in the issuance of a 730 Evaluation, which is an invasive, lengthy process.
- The amount of support to be paid will be based on:
- Non-custodial and custodial parents’ income levels
- Needs of the children
- Standard of living prior to divorce
- The visitation arrangements
What Does the Divorce Filing Process Entail?
Beginning divorce requires the filing of four forms with the San Bernardino or Riverside Superior Court. Obtaining the proper forms can be achieved by purchasing a dissolution form packet from your local Riverside or San Bernardino County Clerk’s Office or from the California Courts website.
These four forms are required to begin the divorce process:
- Form FL-100, “Petition”
- Form FL-110, “Summons”
- Local Form, “Certificate of Counsel”
- Form FL-105, “Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act”
Next, file the original and two copies of each form with the Clerk’s Office at the Superior Court, along with the $335 filing fee. (This fee may be waived.)
Applying for the fee waiver requires completion of two more forms:
- Form FW-001/FW-001-Info - “Information Sheet on Waiver of Court Fees and Costs and Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs”
- Form FW-003 - “Order on Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs”
From there, you must serve one of the conformed copies of the “Summons” and “Petition” by personal service on the other party, by someone at least 18 years of age.
- After the initial filings have been made, discovery process will begin. This process encompasses the following:
- Division of property
- Child custody
- Spousal support
- Child support
In discovery, both sides must provide the other with specific documents and answer any questions presented by each spouse. Additionally, each spouse will be required under law to complete mandatory disclosures known as “Preliminary and Final Declarations of Disclosure.” These disclosures must be completed prior to reaching any settlements or trial.
Leave the Details to an Experienced San Bernardino Divorce Lawyer
Remember, California law requires a six-month waiting period from the start of the divorce process before the court may order dissolution.
Due to the complexities, the length of time may likely extend beyond six months. Cooperation is a key element to resolving a divorce in a timely and cost-effective manner. In reality, emotions can often get the better of the parties as time goes on and amicable resolutions become less attainable. It is important to know that courts do not look favorably on couples that behave vengefully or vindictively.
In this case, the court will be more inclined to make its own decisions as to resolving marital disputes. To protect your rights and ensure your best interests are upheld during this time, enlist the help of the Law Office of Michael R. Young. Our divorce lawyers are more than capable of helping you through this time. With over four decades of collective experience, we can handle even the most complex circumstances.
Complete a free case evaluation online or call (909) 315-4588 today.
 33 Cal. Jur. 3d Family Law § 678
 Faught v. Faught (1973) 30 Cal. App. 3d 875
 Cal. Fam. Code § 310
 See Cal. Fam. Law Act of 1969
 See In re Marriage of McKim (1972) 6 Cal. 3d 673
 Diosdado v. Diosdado (2002) 97 Cal. App. 4th 470; In re Marriage of Walton (1972) 28 Cal. App. 3d 108
 Cal. Fam. Code § 2311
 In re Marriage of Walton (1972) 28 Cal. App. 3d 108
 Wirz v. Wirz (1950) 96 Cal. App. 2d 171
 Cal. Fam. Code § 2312
 Cal. Fam. Code § 2313
 Pryor v. Pryor (2009) 177 Cal. App. 4th 1448; but see Sharon v. Sharon (1885) 67 Cal. 185 [stating that the power to grant divorce is strictly judicial]
 Hill v. Hill (1943) 23 Cal. 2d 82; Bowman v. Bowman (1932) 125 Cal. App. 602
 See Rehfuss v. Rehfuss (1915) 169 Cal. 86; Glickman v. Collins (1975) 13 Cal. 3d 852; Hill, 23 Cal. 2d 82; Flynn v. Flynn (1916) 171 Cal. 746; Bowden v. Bowden (1917) 175 Cal. 711
 See Hull v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County (1960) 54 Cal. 2d 139; De Burgh v. De Burgh (1952) 39 Cal. 2d 858; Weil v. Weil (1943) 37 Cal. 3d 770; Hill, 23 Cal. 2d 82
- Thinking about filing for divorce
- Concerned about custody of your children
- Worried about the division of your property
What is a contested divorce
When spouses don’t agree on an issue, whether it involves child custody or spousal support, a divorce is considered contested. It is the most complicated type of divorce, as a couple will need to go through numerous steps to finalize their divorce. Since contested divorces often go to divorce court with a judge, having legal representation during the trial is crucial.
How is spousal support or alimony calculated
There are numerous factors considered when a judge is determining how much and how long alimony should be paid. Some of those factors include the earning capacity of each spouse, how long the marriage lasted, the standard of living during the marriage, each spouse’s health and age, marital debts and property, and the sacrifices each spouse made during the marriage (such as staying at home with the children so the other spouse could work).
Who pays child support and how is child support determined
The noncustodial parent will be responsible for child support if the court determines it is necessary or parents come to an agreement to be approved by the court. The factors used to determined child support include the income / earning capacity of each parent, the number of children shared, each parent’s expenses, child care expenses, and other related issues.
How is property divided
California is a community property state. That means each spouse is given 50% ownership of the property accumulated during the marriage. This can include homes, vehicles, art, checking accounts, retirement / pension funds, small businesses, and other valuables. Items, accounts, or valuables that were kept separate throughout the entire marriage may be considered separate property and are therefore not subject to property division laws.
How long does it take for a divorce to be final
This can depend on a number of factors, such as whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce. Even if a divorce is uncontested, there is a six-month waiting period in California for the judge to grant a divorce. Likewise, those seeking contested divorces must wait six months for a trial to be ordered. How quickly a divorce is finalized will also depend heavily on how easily spouses agree on matters such as child support, property division, alimony, child custody, and other important matters.
Why should I hire a family law and divorce attorney
Going through a divorce or family law dispute can be complicated, confusing, and emotional. Regardless of whether spouses or family members think they are on the same page, having an attorney who is looking out for the best interests of the client can be invaluable. When you hire an attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing your rights and interests will be protected throughout the process. It can also take a great burden off your shoulders during a volatile or emotionally challenging time.
With more than 40 years of combined experience, our divorce and family lawyers are compassionate, caring professionals.
e understand how challenging family law disputes can be, whether involving a heated child custody battle or a complex divorce. As a firm with an AV Preeminent® rating and a 10.0 Superb Avvo rating, we are committed to maintaining a standard of excellence in our representation. Why? Because we know that your family and your future is on the line. When you retain us, you are getting understanding, knowledgeable advocates on your side.
With over four decades of collective insight, we are well-versed on handling even the most complex family law issues in California, from grandparents’ rights to domestic violence and restraining orders. When you need a compassionate family law attorney that you can trust to have your best interests in mind every step of the way, turn to our firm.
Our legal team strives to secure a favorable resolution as quickly as possible—whether in or out of court. Call us now at (909) 315-4588 to schedule your free consult.
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