There is no quick and easy way to getting a divorce, and depending on the circumstances of your specific case, it could be one of the worst experiences of your life. If you’re going to be getting divorced in California, here are five things to keep in mind while going through the process of dissolving your marriage.
1. Be Patient. California has a minimum time period to get a divorce, a “cooling off” period to make sure you really can’t work things out, so don’t expect to be able to get a quick divorce in California. The law requires at least six months to have passed before a divorce can be granted by a judge, so even the simplest, most straightforward matter is going to take some time. And if child custody and property are involved, a divorce can last much, much longer.
2. Community Property. In California, all assets acquired during your marriage are called community property. Community property means that both spouses have an equal, one half share in all assets and property from the marriage. Even if the house or bank accounts are only in the name of one spouse, it doesn’t matter, each spouse will have a one half interest in that property. On the flip side, all debt, generally speaking, acquired during the marriage is also split in half.
3. Alimony. If you make more money than your spouse, you will likely end up paying him or her spousal support. That’s true whether you are a man or woman, so a wife could end up paying her husband spousal support if she has a higher income than him. Welcome to equality! However, keep in mind that California courts also will look at not just actual income of the spouses, but also income potential. Income potential considers what a person should be making, or what they previously have made, with the capabilities they have.
4. Child Custody. If you have kids, determining custody and visitation of the children can be the nastiest part of a divorce in California. The court prefers that both parents work out custody and visitation issues, and will normally require you to go to mediation before a judge will make an order regarding child custody. A custody dispute can also be very expensive. And remember, the court views it from what is best for the child, not who is the most deserving parent. It’s far better for the children involved to have the parents work out an agreement than to have a court order custody and visitation.
5. Be Sure You Want To Get Divorced. Divorce can be very expensive, very emotional, and can take a lot of your time. Assess your situation, and make sure this is the decision you want to proceed with. Of course, if your spouse wants a divorce, then you have no choice. California is a no fault state, meaning that only one spouse must want the divorce for the court to grant it.
If you do decide to proceed with a divorce, or have to respond to a petition for dissolution filed by your spouse, find an attorney that you feel comfortable with who can help you through the legal process. A good attorney is not only one who understands the law but also can help you understand what is happening in your divorce case. If you would like more information or have any questions about getting a divorce in California, please call a family law attorney at the MacLean Chung Law Firm, 818.305.6200, or visit our website at www.macleanchung.com.