Experienced Divorce Attorney in California
Law Firm Specializing in Divorce Actions filed in Southern California
Deciding to end a marriage is easily one of the hardest decisions a person can make in their lifetime. Navigating the legal system can be daunting for anyone without an extensive legal background at the best of times, and the middle of a divorce is certainly not the best of times for anyone. Family law cases, in particular, can become complicated and messy when not handled properly, however, hiring an attorney early in the process can help avoid the mistakes that inevitably occur when parties seeking divorce represent themselves in court.
Not all divorce cases have to end up in court. In many cases, spouses can settle their divorce disputes through mediation or negotiation, during which an attorney can make sure your best interests are being represented. Too frequently, couples filing for divorce believe they can handle the proceedings on their own in order to save money and end up making a bigger mess of their situation.
While we do encourage divorcing spouses to reach an agreement outside of court and avoid divorce litigation altogether, especially when children are involved, our experienced divorce attorneys can assist with every aspect of the divorce process and will aggressively represent your case in court if it comes to that. Whatever the facts and circumstances involved in your case, we still stand by your side to ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the process.
No Fault Divorce in California
Let’s face it, divorce isn’t for couples who have no problems, and most spouses enter the divorce process feeling hurt and wronged by the other spouse. However, California is a no-fault divorce state, which means a spouse can file for divorce at any time and for no other reason than “irreconcilable differences”(Cal Fam. Code § 2311), and property division in California divorce cases is never influenced by the behavior of either spouse, although child custody and visitation rights can be.
Evidence of wrongdoing or misconduct by either of the spouses during the marriage is irrelevant and inadmissible in divorce proceedings (Cal Fam. Code § 2335).
California Divorce Laws
Under California Family Code, Section 2320, in order for a court to enter a divorce judgment in California terminating the marital status of the parties, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for six months, and in most cases, the spouse filing for divorce must file in his or her county of residence, where he or she lived for at least three months preceding the filing of the petition.
Once the divorce petition has been filed, California law dictates that the filing party must wait at least six months from the date the other spouse is served with the paperwork before the divorce can be finalized. If a spouse doesn’t meet the residency requirements for a divorce, they can still file for a legal separation, and later amend the petition to seek a divorce.
California Community Property Laws
California is also a community property state, which means that the goal of a divorce settlement/judgment is to divide marital property in half. When a couple gets married in California, they are creating a “community” together. Subject to a few exceptions, under California’s community property laws (California Family Code, Section 760), assets and debts spouses acquired during the marriage belong equally to both of them, and they must divide them equally in a divorce.
There are three crucial steps to property division:
- Characterize the property (and debt) as either marital or separate
- Determine the value of marital (community) property, and
- Decide how to divide the community property (and debt).
In a divorce case, there is not always a straightforward resolution.
Oftentimes, either as a result of an agreement between the spouses or an order of the family court, the parties may find themselves in a position to sell their community residence in order to effectuate an equal division of the community estate or divide a business in a divorce.
The results of the divorce process can affect the lives of both spouses for years to come, which is why ensuring a fair and equitable result is always our goal. We offer innovative, creative options for our clients, and keep up-to-date on the ever-changing family laws of California to better serve the clients we represent. For example, we are at the forefront of the newest pet-animal laws, and offer a free Pet Custody Sample Stipulation Agreement.
Terminating the marital status of the parties and dividing the community estate is the heart of a divorce, but there are ancillary issues that may or may not arise depending on the specific facts and circumstances involved.
Common Issues that Arise in California Divorces
Aside from simply terminating the marital status of the parties, the California family court has the authority to make a litany of ancillary orders in marital dissolution proceedings as well.
Spouses are able to request spousal support and attorney’s fees in divorce proceedings, bringing the income and, sometimes, earning capacity of the parties into question. A spousal support attorney can help divorcing spouses understand the various issues that tend to arise in such proceedings, such as proving self-employment income of a spouse and imputing income to a spouse.
If the parties share children born during the marriage, the court will likely make orders regarding child custody and visitation as well as child support. However, if the parties later have a child together following completion of the divorce case, they may file a paternity action in order to determine the rights and responsibilities owed to that child.
If either party engages in acts of domestic violence during the divorce process, or did engage in such acts during the marriage, either party can file a request for a domestic violence restraining order in the divorce case, and if either party violates a family court order subject to enforcement by a contempt action, the contempt can be filed in the divorce case.
Further, if child custody orders are issued in the divorce case and either party later seeks to modify said orders, the modification request would be filed in the divorce case, as the court retains jurisdiction over child custody until relinquished. Under such circumstances, it is advisable to contact a custody modification attorney, parental alienation attorney, or family law attorney skilled in move away requests to answer any questions you may have about your rights.
Same-Sex Divorce Laws in California
The laws of the State of California recognize that divorce is the legal separation of two spouses and their community estate, regardless of the gender of the spouses involved. As a result of the more recent nature of the laws in this area, issues may arise regarding dissolution of domestic partnerships in relation to the divorce of a same-sex couple. In all other regards, there is no true meaning to the term “same-sex divorce” in California jurisprudence, and our same sex divorce attorneys are experienced in guiding spouses through the family law system, regardless of the genders and sexual orientations of the individuals involved.
A California Divorce Lawyer Can Help
The choice to seek marital dissolution can be a difficult decision, especially when children are involved. Our firm is dedicated to making the process as painless and straightforward as possible. We represent clients in both contested and uncontested divorces. If you have questions for a legal separation attorney, annulment attorney, or want to know how long a California divorce really takes; contact our office for a free consultation.
We evaluate your situation and advise you of all your options under the law, so we can custom tailor an experience you can look back on without regret. Our goal is to help make the decisions that protect your legal rights, and that are in the best interests of your family. We strive to get to know you as a person, as an individual, change is inevitable, but the stress and anxiety you feel about those changes do not have to be.
Contact Our Experienced California Divorce Attorneys Now
No matter what stage of the process you are in, you can rely on the experience of our divorce attorneys in reaching resolutions in your case. Whether you and your spouse have reached a marital settlement agreement (or child custody agreement), or can’t seem to agree on anything, our Southern California family law firm fights hard to make the legal system work for our clients.
Call the experienced family law attorneys at Talkov Law at (951) 888-3300 or contact us online for a free consultation about your case. Learn how our experienced divorce attorney, Colleen Sparks, can guide you through the court process in a prompt and clear manner.