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Family Law in the State of California: An Overview of the Divorce Process

Family Law in the State of California: An Overview of the Divorce Process

If you or someone you know is a resident of the State of California and is contemplating filing for a divorce, consider the following information. This article will highlight important factors that could affect parts of the divorce and/or the filing process. Although most states have similar laws with regard to family law, every state can have specific laws and processes which may affect the divorce. Speak to an experienced attorney in divorce law in the State of California. An experienced attorney can guide you through the divorce process and provide professional advice.

State of California Requirements

Every state will differ slightly with regards to family law and the divorce process. One of these distinctions is a residency requirement. In the State of California, one spouse is required to be a resident for a minimum of 180 days or 6 months. Once the divorce has been filed and the documents have been served on the other party, there must be a wait period of a minimum of 6 months from the date that the spouse received the documents in order for the divorce to be finalized and the termination of marital status to become effective. While it is possible that the parties to a case can resolve all issues in the divorce prior to this 6 month waiting period, and parties may have their final proposed judgment prepared, the wait period still applies.

The State of California does not practice common law. This means that the couple cannot be considered married unless there is a legal marriage license and the couple had entered into a legal relationship. Unless the marriage was legal under California law, a divorce cannot be carried through.

A partnership between a couple that lasted many years is not considered a legal marriage, nor is one where one partner simply took the other’s last name. However, California law may still provide legal rights in such a situation.  California recognizes putative spouses, which is a situation where one person believes himself or herself to be married in good faith and is given legal rights as a result of the person’s good faith reliance and belief that they were married.  Unlike a common law, statutory marriage, or ceremonial marriage, a putative spouse is not legally married because of the failure to comply with California’s statutory requirements for the marriage.

Ground for Divorce in the State of California

California is a “no-fault” jurisdiction which means that the spouse or domestic partner need not prove wrongdoing on the party of the other person.  However, fault is not completely irrelevant in California. It is worth noting that if one partner abandoned the family or was somehow violent, such as in a domestic violence situation, a California court can consider such facts of the case. This may affect the outcome of the divorce when it comes to the division of the property, awarding alimony and child custody disputes if the parties have children. This also opens the possibility of certain types of annulments available for a petitioner.

The Division of Property

The State of California is one of a handful of states that use a community property system. This means that all of the property and debt that the married couple acquired during the marriage is equally shared between both parties. This will include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Monetary savings from any income
  • Property from both parties
  • Other assets owned by both parties

Assets that will not be equally divided include the following:

  • Separately owned property
  • Inheritance from one particular party
  • Property owned by one party obtained prior to the marriage

Every case will be different depending on the specific facts of each case.  If you are someone you know is considering a divorce, then consult the legal guidance and support of an experienced family law attorney if you have questions about asset and debt division.

Obtain Legal Support

Divorce can be emotionally difficult for any person. The State of California has specific rules and regulations about family law that could be complex. Consult the aid of a family law attorney that has experience in dealing with divorces.

The Knez Law Group is dedicated to protecting the rights of clients going through a divorce in the State of California. They have extensive experience in dealing with divorce cases. Divorce can be highly emotional and stressful. Speak to an experienced attorney that can help guide you through the process of filing for a divorce.

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