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Fundamentals of a California Divorce

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If you are planning on getting a divorce in Los Angeles, California, or anywhere else in the state, it would be beneficial for you to conduct some research before you move forward.

Often, it is best for spouses to speak with a divorce attorney before they inform their spouse of their plans; this way the filing spouse understands their rights and responsibilities regarding California’s divorce laws and can make informed decisions throughout the divorce process.

In California, there are three ways to end one’s marriage or domestic partnership: annulment, legal separation, and divorce. Unlike some states, where both spouses need to agree to a “mutual consent divorce” to obtain a divorce in a reasonable period of time, in California a marriage can be dissolved as long as one spouse wants a divorce.

This means that either domestic partner or spouse has the power to end their marriage, even if the other spouse or partner refuses to participate in the case. Essentially, if one spouse or partner wants to end the marriage and the other spouse/partner refuses, the party who wants the divorce can obtain what is called a “default judgement” and the court will allow the divorce to be completed.

California is a “No-Fault” Divorce State

Each state handles divorce differently. Some states allow spouses to obtain divorces on fault-based grounds, such as abandonment or adultery, but that is not the case in California because it is a “no-fault” divorce state. As a matter of fact, California is the first state to allow for a no-fault divorce and since it enacted its no fault laws, many other states have since followed suit.

As a “no-fault” divorce state, when a spouse or domestic partner wants to file for divorce, the state does not require that he or she prove that their spouse or partner did anything wrong. The spouse or domestic partner who files for divorce does not have to claim that they are a victim of domestic violence, abandonment, cruel and inhumane punishment, or adultery.

In order to get a “no-fault” divorce in California, all a spouse or domestic partner has to do is explain to the court that their marriage is irretrievably broken or the couple is not happy. The legal term for this is “irreconcilable differences.”

Ending a Marriage or Domestic Partnership

If you have decided to end your marriage or domestic partnership, it is important that you start planning as soon as possible. It would be wise for you to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer about California’s divorce laws and how they apply to your unique set of circumstances.

You will want to become informed about California’s community property laws, as well as the state’s laws regarding debt division, child custody and support, and spousal support.

While each couple’s circumstances are unique, it is important that you learn which laws apply to you, especially if you have minor children with your spouse or any measurable assets, such as a home, retirement accounts, investments, jewelry, collectibles, and other valuable personal property.

Are you looking to end a domestic partnership in Los Angeles? If so, you will need to file for an annulment, a legal separation, or a divorce to end your domestic partnership. In limited circumstances, domestic partners have the option of ending their relationship through a summary process.

In order to qualify for the summary process, you must have been registered for less than five years, you must not have any children, you cannot have any real property, you must have very little assets or debts, and you must have a written agreement that addresses the division of your property.

If you believe that you may qualify for a summary process through the Secretary of State, feel free to contact our office to see if you qualify to end your domestic partnership in this simplified manner.

Filing for Divorce in California

In order to file for divorce in California, you must meet the residency requirement first. Before you file for divorce in Los Angeles County, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for a full six months, and in Los Angeles County for at least three months.

What if I don’t meet the residency requirement? If you are in a hurry to file for divorce in Los Angeles County and you do not meet the above requirements, you can file for a legal separation in the meantime. Once you meet the residency requirements, then you can have your divorce lawyer file an amended petition for divorce in Los Angeles County.

Note: If you are in a domestic partnership that is registered in California and you wish to end it through a legal separation or a divorce, neither you, nor your spouse needs to be living in California to accomplish this. Please contact us for more detailed information about filing for legal separation or divorce when you live outside of California.

Experienced Divorce Representation in Los Angeles

If you wish to end a domestic partnership or marriage in California through a divorce or legal separation, please understand that the process can become very complicated, especially if you are a high-net-worth marriage, and you want to include orders for child custody, child support, spousal support, and other orders that divide your marital debts and property.

In order to ensure that your rights are adequately protected during the settlement process, we encourage you to secure experienced legal representation from our Los Angeles divorce attorneys at Claery & Hammond, LLP. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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