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Divorce FAQ

 

DISSOLUTION OF A CALIFORNIA MARRIAGE:

 

1)  What are the grounds for dissolution of marriage?

California was the first state to implement the "no-fault divorce" concept. In California, a dissolution of marriage can be granted if the court finds there to be “Irreconcilable differences" that have caused an irrevocable breakdown of the marriage.

In effect, this means that if a married person wishes to terminate the marriage, he/she can do so, even if the other spouse disagrees.

 

2)  Is there any residency requirements in order to obtain dissolution of marriage?

In order to qualify for a dissolution of marriage, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for a continuous six month period and of the county for a continuous three month prior to the filing of the Petition (Family Law).

 

3)  After the dissolution case is filed, how long does it take to get the marital status terminated?

Once the Respondent is served with the Summons and Petition, the marital status cannot be terminated until six months have passed since the service was effected.

 

4) What is the procedure for getting dissolution of marriage? A typical dissolution of marriage requires the following steps:

a. The Petition (Family Law) is filed and personally served on the Respondent.

b. The Respondent then has thirty days to file a Response (Family Law).

c. One of the parties to the dissolution will usually request temporary court orders by filing for an Order to Show Cause hearing. At this hearing, the judge will make temporary child custody, support and restraining orders.

d. The parties then engage in Discovery. This is the process by which parties of the dissolution exchange information and documents that are relevant to the case.

One of the required aspects of discovery is the preparation of the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. This is a court form in which each party lists the community and separate property.

As part of this disclosure, the parties are also required to exchange current income and expense declarations. Other forms of discovery are interrogatories (written questions) and depositions (oral examination under penalty of perjury).

e. After the discovery is completed the parties and their attorneys (if they are represented) will discuss settlement of the case.

If the case is resolved by agreement, one of the attorneys will prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement, which will contain all of the terms of the agreement.

This is a contract that is signed by the spouses and their attorneys.

f. If the parties are not able to agree on all of the issues in the case, a trial will take place.

g. After the parties sign the Marital Settlement Agreement or after the trial has concluded, one of the attorneys will prepare a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.

 

5) How long does the divorce process take?

To a large degree of this depends on the attitudes of the spouses and the nature of the outstanding issues that need to be resolved. Below are some examples that may impact the timing. However, these may not pertain to your case.

  • An amicable or uncontested divorce involving no children or significant property issues may be completed in as little as three months.
  • A more typical situation involving children or a house, but no contentious issues may take about six months to a year, again depending on the attitudes of the spouses and everyone's willingness to amicably solve their case. This can also take over a year if there is high conflict
  • A highly contested divorce involving disputes over child custody and visitation, or division of property, division of assets and debts may involve litigation extending over one or more years.

 

Based on the above, it is crucial to determine your goals for your dissolution and/or custody arrangements so you don't spend countless hours and many dollars "fighting" your case.

 

6) How much will my divorce cost?

Again, this depends on your circumstances and what issues must be resolved. Also, I will consider how you wish to proceed with your concerns. Should you choose to proceed with your dissolution as an “uncontested” matter, the costs will be much less. When we discuss your situation, I can provide an estimate based on your situation and goals. I will work to achieve your divorce in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

 

7) What will the level of child support or spousal support be?

The level of child support depends on the incomes of the parents and the residency of the child with each, adjusted for certain expenses. I can discuss your situation in detail. Spousal support is also generally based on several factors, including income, the parties' ability to pay spousal support, and other factors which we can discuss.

 

8) Can I kick my spouse or partner out of the house?

Typically (absent domestic violence or the threat of violence) you cannot, but this would all depend on the facts of each individual case. What you can do is develop new guidelines for living together during the divorce process, such as:

  • Respecting each other's privacy and personhood
  • Establishing boundaries and standards of acceptable behavior
  • Making a conscious effort to avoid potential areas of conflict

 

Remember, you and your spouse have already made the decision to divorce. You should try to focus on the future rather than on the wrongs of the past.

 

9) What do we tell the kids?

It is always better to do this together with your spouse which will show the kids that although you are getting a divorce, you still respect each other. You should make it clear that the divorce is not your children's fault, and that life will be better for everyone after the divorce. You may want to discuss how to approach this task with your spouse before speaking with your children.

 

You probably have more questions relating to your specific situation. I can answer these questions and discuss how I can help you make a successful transition to life after divorce