Understanding California Divorce Laws

If you are separating from your spouse, it’s important to understand California divorce laws. Divorce can be devastating. You may be unsure of where to turn and what steps to take next. We can help. Our compassionate family law lawyers at The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks can guide you through the divorce process.

Starting a Divorce in California

In order to start a divorce in California, you must understand residency requirements and where to file your dissolution. According to California Family Code Sections 200, 2320, at least one party of the marriage must have been a resident of the state of California for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition for dissolution. Furthermore, at least one party must have been a resident of the county in which the dissolution is being filed for at least three months.

California divorce laws state that if a same-sex couple lives in a location that does not recognize same-sex marriages and they were married in California, then they may seek a dissolution in the county where they were married in California.

Grounds for Divorce in California

According to California divorce laws, a dissolution of marriage may be granted for the following reasons:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Incurable insanity

Legal Separation in California

If you want to seek a legal separation, you must still meet the same residency requirements and grounds. A separation may be sought instead of a divorce or while a divorce is taking place. Divorces can take years to achieve due to issues with child custody, property distribution, and debt separation. Once a legal separation is in place, income and property is accumulated separately and is no longer considered community property.

Restoration of Former Name in a Divorce

California divorce laws state that the court will restore a party to their birth or former name in a dissolution or annulment, but not in a proceeding for legal separation.

Counseling and Mediation Requirements

Counseling or mediation may be required in a dissolution in the following circumstances:

  • A minor child is involved; or
  • The controversy involves domestic violence.

The family conciliation court has jurisdiction over controversies involving minor children and domestic violence. This allows families to seek necessary counseling and mediation and avoid conflict in court.

Property Distribution in California

One of the most concerning issues in a divorce is property distribution. According to California divorce laws, all real and personal property acquired during a marriage is community property. That is, it immediately becomes the property of both parties equally. Upon separation, the property obtained during the marriage will be equally divided between the spouses.

Exceptions to property that will be equally distributed include:

  • Property owned before marriage;
  • Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or inheritance;
  • Income obtained through property belonging to one party; and
  • Property obtained during a legal separation.

A person may convey ownership of their own share of the property without knowledge of their spouse, even during the marriage.

Alimony and Spousal Support in California

Spousal support may be ordered in California in some situations. The court will consider the following under California divorce laws:

  • Both spouses’ ability to maintain their standard of living that was established during the marriage;
  • The ability of the support seeking spouse to obtain self-supporting employment;
  • How the future earning capacity of the support seeking spouse was impacted by devotion to domestic duties;
  • Whether the support seeking spouse contributed to the attainment of education and career position of the supporting spouse;
  • The ability of the supporting spouse to pay alimony;
  • The needs of both parties;
  • Other obligations and assets of both parties;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The interests of dependent children;
  • The age and health of both parties;
  • Any history of domestic violence;
  • The tax consequences of both parties;
  • Hardships of both parties;
  • Goals of self-support within a reasonable time period; and
  • Other factors the court deems just and equitable.

Child Custody and Support in California

Child custody and support are also issues that may be dealt with in a divorce. Custody may be awarded to either parent, with no preference to either mother or father. The court will make an order regarding legal custody and physical custody that is in the best interests of the children under California divorce laws. The spouse that gets primary physical custody of the child or children may also be awarded child support from the other parent. It is important to have a skilled lawyer to help you deal with child custody and child support issues in California.

Understanding California Divorce Laws

Separation from your spouse can be stressful and confusing. It’s best to obtain legal assistance from an experienced lawyer to help you through the process that involves complex California divorce laws. Call The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today at (559) 222-4891.