California recognizes the concept of no-fault divorce (and was the first state to do so), so getting divorced in California does not require you to prove bad acts or misconduct on the part of the other spouse, or meet any other statutory grounds. It is enough to show that one spouse believes that there are irreconcilable differences and wishes to get divorced. While dissolving the marriage itself may not be a difficult matter, there are many issues which must be settled in the divorce process, including the division of community property, spousal support, child support, and child custody and visitation (parenting time). If the spouses cannot agree on how these issues will be resolved, the judge decides the matter following a course of litigation. And since court orders are generally final, these decisions can affect you and your family for years to come. At the Law Offices of Andy Cook, our San Diego Divorce Lawyer services can help people through the process of divorce while ensuring that their rights and interests and those of their children are preserved and protected now and into the future.
California Divorce Laws
California’s residency requirement requires that you or your spouse be a resident of the state for at least six months before you file a petition for divorce. You must also be a resident in the county in which you are filing for at least three months. If you do not yet meet the residency requirement, you can file for legal separation now, and later convert the separation to a divorce when you qualify. With a legal separation, you can still get orders regarding support and other important matters.
If you have been served with divorce papers, you have 30 days to respond, and it is very important that you do so, if you want to protect your rights in the divorce.
After the petition and response have been filed (or at the time they are filed), the parties make required financial disclosures, and the judge enters any temporary orders which are either standard or requested by either party. These orders may cover who gets temporary possession of the family home or vehicle, what may or may not be done as to any major purchases or disposition of property, where the kids will live, etc.
The next phase of the process is known as discovery because each spouse is able to “discover” facts about the other spouse’s financial situation. This stage is important to make sure all facts are fully disclosed which will impact the outcome in the divorce, and to make sure one spouse is not hiding assets or misrepresenting income.
Resolving Contested Matters in Divorce
The parties may engage in negotiation of the issues in the divorce and may be able to draw up a marital settlement agreement or agree to a stipulated judgment. The judge may also order a settlement conference to help the parties reach an agreement without a trial. If an agreement can’t be reached, the court may hold a hearing during which the parties through their attorneys call witnesses and submit evidence in favor of their position. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge decides how to resolve all contested matters in the divorce, including:
- Spousal support (also known as alimony or maintenance)
- Child custody and visitation (parenting time)
- Child support
- Asset and property division (Community Property)
Get Help with an Experienced San Diego Divorce Lawyer
In all of the above areas, the judge has wide latitude in deciding how to rule. Therefore it is critical that you are well-represented in the negotiation or litigation of any contested matters in your divorce. A final judgment in a divorce can only be modified on a showing of a substantial change of circumstances, so it is important to get it right the first time. If you are contemplating a divorce, please contact the San Diego divorce lawyer team at the Law Law Offices of Andy Cook for advice and representation.