Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First Fresno CA Divorce AttorneyEnding a marriage is never pleasant. But if you and your spouse have tried and failed to salvage your marriage, divorce may be your only option. But does it matter who files for divorce first?

While there is no right or wrong when it comes to filing first, there are some pros and cons to keep in mind.

Advantages of Filing for Divorce First

One advantage to filing first is that you can control the subsequent proceedings. Depending on whether the situation is volatile or amicable, filing first gives you the element of surprise. This can be a great tactic for fraught relationships where you know your spouse will retaliate, since you’re essentially catching them off guard.

In addition, filing for divorce first can bring the following benefits:

  • Having a say in the divorce proceedings. The spouse who files first usually gets to decide on the court dates and the jurisdiction in which the divorce will take place.
  • Getting prepared for the divorce. Since you’re the one initiating the divorce, you more than likely have more time to prepare than your ex. This will give you a chance to obtain all the necessary papers and documents before your spouse has a chance to hide money or assets.
  • Telling your side of the story first. In many instances, the court will first examine the papers that were filed first. This means that you can effectively tell your side of the story before your spouse. In addition, you’ll also have the chance to present your case first during the trial and hearings.
  • Obtaining separate property sooner. California law mandates that property and assets gained during a marriage are community property and must be divided equally. By initiating the process of divorce, you can essentially ensure that you’ll obtain separate property much sooner.
  • Obtaining immediate relief. If your spouse moves out and fails to help pay for bills or keeps your children away from you, starting the divorce process can offer immediate relief.

Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce First

With advantages comes disadvantages. You should also be aware of the negative aspects of filing for divorce first. For the most part, these negative aspects deal with money and strategy. They are as follows:

  • Alerting your spouse to your demands. When filing for divorce, you typically must list out your desires and demands. When your petition is served, your spouse gets the chance to see all your wants, which can essentially allow them develop counterattacks.
  • Paying more fees (sometimes). An individual petitioning for divorce will need to pay a filing fee. In addition, if your attorney is busy obtaining information, then you my need to pay more attorney fees.
  • Setting forth the end of the marriage. Initiating the divorce process means you’re the first to make it a reality. Since you’ve made the first move to end the marriage, there is often little chance of reconciling afterwards.

Speak to an Experienced Fresno Divorce Attorney to Learn More

Does it matter who files for divorce first? Yes, it can. But it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of doing so. An experienced divorce attorney can help you make educated decisions to protect your interests. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks to learn more.

What Is a No Fault Divorce?

What Is a No Fault Divorce Divorce Lawyer Fresno CAWhen researching your different options for divorce in California, you more than likely have seen the term “no fault” divorce. What is a no fault divorce, and how does it apply to your current situation?

What Does No Fault Mean in California?

When you file for divorce, you can base your divorce on various “grounds”. For instance, most states allow you to base your divorce on issues of wrongdoing, such as adultery, abandonment and abuse.

On the other hand, California offers a “no fault” divorce option. Simply put, this type of divorce means that you do not need to find an excuse or problem to base the separation on. If you and your spouse no longer want to be married, you can end the marriage citing “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for the divorce.

Historically, couples needed to find an excuse to file for divorce. This often meant that spouses would either make false accusations against the other or intentionally self-destruct the marriage. Both of these tactics would only lead to more heartache and pain on top of an already failed marriage. With no fault divorce, people can end an marriage without resorting to harmful schemes.

How Does No Fault Grounds Affect Divorce Cases?

Since no fault divorces do not require accusations, you do not need to prove your case in order to get divorced. By comparison, in fault based divorces, accusations of abuse or adultery require effective proof and evidence; otherwise your case can be denied.

Going even further, the grounds for a fault based divorce can also be used in other aspects of the case, such as in deciding alimony or custody. So, in states that allow fault based divorces, spouses may use the other spouse’s fault as a calculated tactic. In California, since the no fault rule can apply to all divorces, a spouse’s fault is not considered when deciding alimony or other aspects.

Because of this, the court will look at other factors pertaining to those issues, such as both party’s ability to support themselves and their mental and physical health.

However, keep in mind that when deciding child custody, a spouse’s fault can still be used against them if their fault posed a threat to the child’s health or safety. For instance, if your spouse is abusive or addicted to drugs or alcohol, the court will consider those facts when deciding custody.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney to Learn More

What is a no fault divorce? The answer is simple — in California all divorces are considered no fault. If you are considering divorce, speak to a Fresno divorce lawyer who can answer your questions and provide valuable legal guidance. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

When Does Child Support End in California?

When Does Child Support End in California Fresno CAParenting is a challenging job — and often an expensive one. If you have been ordered to pay child support, you know that these payments are intended to cover your child’s basic needs. But how long do you have to pay? When does child support end in California?

When Does Child Support Typically End?

Child Reaches 18

In most cases, child support ends once a child reaches the “age of majority” which is typically 18..


Under the Emancipation of Minors Law, an “emancipated minor” will assume most adult responsibilities before they reach 18. The minor will be considered emancipated if they are under age 18 and:

  • Gets married
  • Joins the military
  • Receives a judicial declaration of emancipation

Termination of Parental Rights

When the court terminates a parent’s parental rights, they are no longer obligated to pay child support. However, that also means that the parent no longer has a right to custody or visitation as well.

Can I File an End of Child Support Request?

In order to end child support ,you must file a request with the right California family court. Even if your child is emancipated or you lose parental rights, you will still need to file a request to legally make the payments end. Once you file your request, you will need to attend a court hearing. During the hearing, the presiding judge will decide to either approve or decline your request to end child support.

My Child Is Over 18. Why Do I Still Need to Pay Child Support?

Even if your child is over age 18, the court may order you to pay child support if your adult child is:

  • Disabled
  • Owed duty of support
  • Still in high school

In addition, some parents may agree to continue child support payments until a specific age over 18 years old.

Can You End Child Support If You’re Not the Father?

Unfortunately, there are instances where after years of paying child support, a father finds out that he is not the child’s biological father. In those cases, it is typically too late to challenge paternity. Furthermore, for the sake of the best interest of the child, you most likely won’t get your money back and you may still be ordered to continue child support. And while you can request an end to child support, it is an extremely complex process.

Speak to a Fresno Child Support Lawyer

If you have questions about when does child support end in California, speak to an experienced child support lawyer. We can help you modify a support order and advise you of your options. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

How Does Stepparent Adoption in California Work?

Stepparent Adoption in California Fresno Family Law AttorneyWhile it is not mandatory for a stepparent to adopt the child of their spouse, voluntarily assuming parental responsibility can have a huge, beneficial impact on a child’s life. But the process of stepparent adoption in California is complex. An experienced Fresno family law attorney can help you complete the adoption as efficiently as possible.

Who Qualifies as a Stepparent?

When a stepparent adopts a child, they take on the legal responsibility of the child’s health, safety and well-being, while one biological parent still retains custody and control of the child.

To be eligible for stepparent adoption, you must be married to or registered as a domestic partner to one of the child’s birth parents. If you are not, you do not have any legal standing for stepparent adoption.

If you qualify, you can proceed with the process of stepparent adoption. However, you will also need to obtain consent from both biological parents, if both are still alive.

What Is the Process of Stepparent Adoption in California?

Generally, the process will look something like this:

Filing an Adoption Request to the Court

You will need to file an Adoption Request to the proper California court. In this form, you will list information about yourself, the child and your relation to said child, and any other relevant information about the child’s parents or other guardians. Once your request is filed, the court will send your petition to both living biological parents.

Social Services Investigation

After filing your Adoption Request, the court will arrange a brief investigation from Social Services. Typically, these investigations are straightforward, as Social Services is simply attempting to determine if adoption will serve in the child’s best interests.

Terminating Non-Custodial Parental Rights

Before you can adopt a stepchild, you must terminate the parental rights of the living non-custodial parent. This will effectively “free” the other parent from parental obligations such as child support. That also means that the other parent will no longer have a right to court-ordered visitation.

Most non-custodial parents typically consent to the termination of their parental rights. However, the adoption process becomes much more complicated when the other parent is missing or does not consent.

Hearing Before the Court

The final step involves a hearing before the court. During this hearing, the presiding family court judge will determine if the adoption will serve in the child’s best interests. This could include speaking directly with the child, in some cases. If the judge approves of the adoption, you will legally become the child’s parent.

Consult an Experienced Stepparent Adoption Attorney

Parenthood does not require DNA. If you love your stepchild and wish to adopt them, we can help. To increase your chances of successful adoption, and to speed up the process, consult with the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.