Divorce in California

Residency Requirement. Before you can file for divorce in California, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for six months. Once you’ve filed the divorce or legal separation you must have your spouse or domestic partner personally served with the paperwork. They will have 30 days to respond to your petition. You must wait at least six months from the date your spouse or domestic received the papers before the divorce can be finalized.

Common Law Marriage. It does not matter how long you have lived with the other person, or any other factors; there is NO common law marriage in California. You are not married unless you obtained a marriage license and became legally married. You cannot obtain a divorce unless you are legally married.

Grounds for Divorce. California is a no-fault state, which means it doesn’t matter what the other person did, such as cheating, leaving the family, or home, it does not matter to the Court. The most common basis for divorce is that “irreconcilable differences” have occurred and they have caused a total breakdown of the marriage.

Property Division. California is a community property state. This means that all property and debts incurred during the marriage are presumed to be the property of both spouses. All property acquired prior to marriage, gift or inheritance, and after date of separation, is separate property. If spouses mixed their separate property with community property during the marriage, that may result in being deemed community property and therefore will be equally divided between the spouses. It is important to obtain good documentation of assets and debts as you will need to identify and exchange this information with your spouse during the divorce process.

Child Custody. If children are involved in your divorce, they will be the most important issue determined by the Court. California courts and public policy dictate that it is in a child’s best interest to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after they separate. Courts favor joint custody arrangement unless they determine it not to be in the child’s best interest. If there is a finding of domestic violence against a parent, the presumption is that parent should not have joint legal or joint physical custody of the child. If parents agree to a custody arrangement, the Court will support their agreement and make it an order of the Court. If parents do not agree, the Court will take into consideration all the relevant factors and evidence and make a custody arrangement for the parents which it believes is in the child’s best interest.

Custody arrangements are the most important orders you obtain in a divorce proceeding. This can be a very emotional and confusing process and should be handled in cooperation with an experienced attorney. Representing yourself in custody proceedings is the worst decision to make, especially in a highly contentious situation. Any mistake or wrong statement made to a Judicial Officer can have long lasting consequences for you and your family. A skilled attorney who knows how to navigate through this process is highly recommended and will make this part of the divorce less stressful. Choosing an attorney who listens, understands, and whom you feel comfortable with is the best choice you can make for you and your family.

Child Support. Another issue which is very important to the Court is child support. California requires parents to support their children, even after a divorce. Child support is determined by the gross income of both parents, the amount of time each parent spends with the child and some other factors. This is a computer calculated determination using programs known as “Dissomaster” of “XSpouse”. At the Law Offices of Sabrina C. Fernandez, we will listen to your facts, take into consideration incomes and input your information into our support calculator to give you proposed support numbers.

Spousal Support – When a couple legally separates or divorces, the court may order one spouse or domestic partner to pay the other a certain amount of support money each month. This is called spousal support and/or alimony. At the beginning stages of a divorce the spousal support is identified as “temporary” support and is determined by the same computer programs used to determine child support. The Court will take into consideration the gross income of the parties and a few other factors to calculate the temporary support order. If there is no agreement by the end of your case on this issue and the Court becomes involved in making a spousal support order at time of Trial, it will be determined by the Court and evidence of the marital standard of living of the couple during the marriage. These are called 4320 factors which are outlined and explained in Family Code Section 4320. If a couple has been married longer than 10 years, then it is a long term marriage. A long term marriage does not mean that one party will receive spousal support for the rest of their life. Spousal support is generally awarded for one-half the length of the marriage. The supported party has the duty to use all best efforts to become self-supporting. This is known as a Gavron Warning, pursuant to the case In Re Marriage of Gavron. There are numerous factors involved in determining spousal support awards so choosing an experienced and tenacious attorney to represent your interests in this area is beneficial. Sabrina C. Fernandez will take the time to go through the process and proposed outcomes with you so that you have a clear understanding of your options. With more than 16 years of experience, Sabrina C. Fernandez will evaluate your case and, with you, formulate the best strategy for your case.

Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce. In California, any same-sex couple who registered or married in California at any time can get divorced. This applies even if the same-sex couple does not reside in the State of California any more.

Don’t’ Go to Court Unrepresented

Sabrina Fernandez prides herself on compassionately representing clients in many challenging divorce situations. She has the experience in handling all facets of the divorce process which often times is a very confusing and highly stressful time. If you may need to file or respond to a divorce and protect your family, you should contact her to make sure that your interests are protected. She also represents people who need assistance with other matters related to family law or guardianships, restraining orders and criminal law in cities such as, but no limited to, Santa Ana, Tustin, Mission Viejo, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, and Laguna Hills. Contact us at (714) 543-0451 or through our online form.

Client Reviews

Sabrina Fernandez represented me in a divorce where my soon to be x was requesting high spousal support, money for HIS bills and to have me removed from my own home. To make a long story short, Sabrina made a fool of him and his lawyer and we walked out victorious and he walked out with a lousy 3k...

- K Carreon

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