Obtaining a Divorce in California

Getting a divorce in California is a complex process with many stringent requirements and time deadlines. Divorce attorney Rick Banks can help you navigate your way through the court system and work toward resolving all of your divorce issues, including child custody, child support, and marital property division and distribution disputes.

Residency Requirements for Divorce in California

In order to obtain a divorce in California, you must satisfy the State’s residency requirements. Specifically, you or your spouse must have been a resident of California for at least six months — or 180 days. After you have filed the divorce paperwork and delivered it to your spouse, you must then wait at least six months from the date of service before a judge can sign off on your divorce decree.

Common Law Marriage

While some states recognize common law marriages, California does not. Under a common law marriage in some states, you are considered “married” if you live with your partner for a certain period of time or take your partner’s surname. However, California requires that you do the following in order to be married legally:

  • Obtain a marriage license
  • Enter into a legal relationship

If you are not legally married under California law, you cannot obtain a divorce in California.

Grounds for Divorce in California

California, like many other states, is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that in order to obtain a divorce in California, you do not necessarily need to prove that your spouse did something wrong, such as commit adultery or behave in a violent manner towards you. However, these facts may become important when it comes time for the court to award alimony or divide marital property.

Same Sex Marriage

The United States Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges requires all states to grant same-sex marriages and give full faith and credit to same-sex marriages granted in other states. As a result, any same-sex couple who married in California at any time may likewise obtain a divorce in California.

Distribution of Marital Property

When parties acquire assets over the course of their marriage, those assets must be distributed among the parties when they divorce. Unlike most states in the country, California is a community property state. This means that if you and your spouse decide to obtain a divorce in California, all of the property and debts that you acquired over the course of your marriage must be divided equally between the two of you.

Community property includes all of the following:

  • Real property (such as a home or real estate)
  • Income of all kinds
  • Savings accounts
  • Retirement accounts (such as a 401(k) or pension plan)
  • Motor vehicles

Community property does not include either spouse’s separate property. The following types of property are not considered community property in California:

  • Inheritances to one spouse
  • Gifts to one spouse
  • Property that one spouse owned or acquired prior to the marriage (assuming that the separate property was not combined with any marital property over the course of the marriage)

Child Custody

When the parties to a divorce in California have children, child custody, visitation, and support will automatically become part of the divorce proceedings. Child custody decisions are always based on the best interest of the minor child or children. The presumption in California is that it is in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents following a divorce.

Prior to finalizing a divorce, some spouses agree to child custody and visitation arrangements, and this agreement is formulated into a parenting plan which the court then approves. If the parties cannot agree on these arrangements, a judge will usually require them to attend mediation, or the judge will make the decision himself or herself.

Child Support

California requires that parents support their children even after a divorce decree has been finalized. The amount of child support that a non-custodial parent must pay usually depends upon some of the following factors:

  • Each parent’s income
  • Each parent’s occupation
  • Each parent’s resources
  • Each parent’s ability to spend time with the children

A court may also “impute income” to a parent who “voluntarily impoverishes” himself or herself (i.e. in cases where a parent has the capacity to earn more than what he or she is actually earning, but, for whatever reason, chooses not to do so).

Contact a Fresno Divorce Lawyer Today for More Information about How to Obtain a Divorce in California

If you are at the beginning or in the midst of obtaining a divorce in California, divorce attorney Rick Banks is ready to assist you with your case. Attorney Rick Banks can meet with you to discuss your case, file the necessary paperwork with the court, and work with the other side to facilitate a favorable resolution of any disputed issues. You can reach attorney Rick Banks at any time by calling (559) 222-4891, for a free initial consultation about how to obtain a divorce in California.

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