FAQs About California Divorce

Let's face it, divorce is known for being one of the most stressful experiences an adult will ever go through, second only to the death of a child. If you're headed for divorce and you learned that there were things that you could do to make it less stressful, would you do them?

Of course you would, and one of the best ways to minimize the emotional and financial impact of divorce is to educate yourself as early as possible. To help you get a head start on your research, we're going to provide some frequently asked questions and answers about a California divorce below.

On what grounds can I file for divorce in California?
California is technically a no-fault divorce state, which means that you don't have to blame your spouse for the divorce. All that matters is the marriage is irretrievably broken, or that at least one of you wants a divorce.

Does adultery affect spousal support?
Since California is a no-fault divorce state, adultery does not affect spousal support like it does in some other states. However, if one spouse has wasted marital assets on a new romantic partner, for example, a cheating husband bought his girlfriend a new car, the judge may decide to award the innocent spouse more of the marital estate.

Can a judge make temporary orders?
Yes, absolutely. Once a divorce action is filed with the court, the judge can make temporary orders for child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support.

Can my child choose which parent to live with?
It's a common misconception that once a child reaches a certain age, such as 12 or 14 that he or she can choose which parent to live with. Ultimately, the decision is always up to the judge but as a general rule, the judge will consider the child's wishes, regardless if they are 8 years-old or 14 years-old.

Is spousal support automatically awarded?
No, it is not. Spousal support is awarded on a case-by-case basis. Just because one spouse earns more than the other spouse, it does not necessarily mean that the judge will award spousal support. It comes down to a number of factors, including one spouse's need for support and the other spouse's ability to pay it.

How long does spousal support last?
It's not set in stone, but generally if spousal support is awarded, the duration of support is for one-half the length of the marriage. So, if the marriage lasted 8 years, support would likely be awarded for 4 years. If the marriage lasted longer than 10 years (a long-term marriage), then the support may be awarded without an "end date."

Is California an equitable division state?
No, California is a community property state, which means each spouse is entitled by law to 50 percent of all marital assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of who earned the money or whose name is on title.

Can we decide on a martial settlement agreement?
Yes! California may be a community property state, but spouses have every right to reach their own marital settlement agreement as long as it doesn't leave one spouse destitute.

What happens if I don't pay child support?
Several bad things can happen if you're ordered to pay child support and you fail to pay it. Your driver's license can be suspended, your professional license can be revoked, your bank account can be garnished, and your lottery winnings can be intercepted, your credit can be impacted, and much more.

If you can't afford your support obligation, go back to court right away and ask for a downward modification! Otherwise, you can get into a lot of legal trouble.

Can court orders later be changed?
Yes, after a divorce it's very common for people to go back to court and ask for a modification of a child custody, child support, or spousal support order. In order for the petitioner to prevail in court, he or she must be able to show the judge that there has been a significant change in circumstances.

How long until my divorce is final?
Once you file for divorce, you must wait at least six months before the divorce can be finalized in California.

Need a San Diego divorce attorney? Contact our office to schedule a free consultation with an experienced and compassionate member of our legal team!