Whether you are opting for full legal representation or self-representation for divorce, you must have a good understanding about the basics of divorce law in California. There are certain rules and restraining orders that you have to follow during the divorce procedure. Violating these rules might cause you to pay stiff legal penalties. Moreover, learning about California divorce law can help you choose the right legal alternative and divorce attorney.
Here are some quick and important facts about California divorce law that can help you understand the legal requirements and implications of divorce in California:
If you are filing for divorce in California, you must have lived in the state of California for the last six months and for the last 3 months in the county where you are filing the case. If both spouses have California residency but have been living in two different counties for the last 3 months, they can file for divorce in either of the two counties. For example, if you have lived in Orange County for the past 3 months, you can file your divorce case with the Orange County Family Law Court.
Summary dissolution is a joint filing process which requires less paperwork and in which both spouses mutually agree to an out-of-court settlement. You can only opt for summary dissolution if you and your spouse have mutually decided to divide your assets and debts uniformly between each other and the following conditions are also met:
- You must have been married for less than five (5) years (from date of marriage to date of separation).
- Combined joint debt or loan amount must not exceed $6,000 (excluding car loans).
- The total worth of community property should be less than $40,000 (excluding vehicles).
- The total worth of separate property should be less than $40,000 (excluding vehicles).
- Neither of the spouses can own land or a home.
- Couples applying for summary dissolution must not have any children (biological or adopted) from the relationship.
- Neither party shall ever receive spousal support from the other party.
California is a community property state. Regardless of the employment or financial state of spouses, California divorce law ensures uniform distribution of assets and valuables between spouses. Property owned by spouses is either community property or separate property. Community property is the assets and debts acquired during the marriage (in and out of the state). This property is divided equally between the spouses. Separate property, on the other hand, is the property acquired by either of the spouses before getting married or by inheritance or gift, and this property is not divided during the divorce.
Depending on the best interests of the children of the marriage, court may reward joint or sole custody. Following are some of the factors that can influence the decision of the court:
- Wishes of the child
- Financial stability of parents
- Frequent and continuing contact of the child with both parents
- Child’s safety
- Parents’ health records
- The history of drug use or alcohol abuse
- History of domestic violence
The court may also reward alimony (spousal support) to a spouse. The amount and period of alimony can depend on the length of marriage, the marital standard of living of the couple during the marriage, and other factors under California Family Code section 4320. It is advisable to speak with a divorce attorney to fully understand how the family court determines alimony.
Just keep the above-mentioned facts about California divorce law in mind when filing for divorce. This can help you deal with all the legal proceedings in accordance with California state law.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyer and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.