Legal issues involving one’s family can be very complicated to deal with. Some of these issues, like divorce, often involve multiple family law matters, such as child custody and spousal support. Because any one of these topics is complex in its own right, we often get a few common questions when it comes to general family law matters.
The purpose of this post is to take a macroscopic view of family law and address some of the most common questions people have. Some of these questions will address a specific area of family law, but they are nonetheless questions that most people tend to ask.
Keep reading to learn more about common family law matters and reach out to our lawyers if you require additional legal assistance!
Do I Need a Reason to Get a Divorce in California?
No. California is a no-fault divorce state, which means the only grounds for divorce required are “irreconcilable differences.” In other words, you or your spouse can decide to end your marriage at any time, and the court will not require you to provide or prove a reason for divorce to proceed.
Will I Lose Everything in My Divorce?
California is a community property state. This means that any assets or property acquired during marriage, or commingled with marital property, is subject to an even division during a divorce.
In theory, this means that both spouses should walk away with exactly half – or as close to half as possible – of whatever assets (and debt!) was gained during their marriage. That said, one spouse’s half can look different from the other’s – for example, one spouse can be awarded the family home, while the other is awarded cash and other marital property of an equal value.
If I Cheated, Will I Get Less from Property Division?
No. Infidelity alone doesn’t mean you’ll get penalized when it comes to property division. This matter is always addressed as a 50/50
How Long Does Spousal Support Last?
Spousal support can exist on a temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent basis. Temporary spousal support orders are usually issued while a divorce is ongoing and last until a settlement is reached.
Rehabilitative spousal support is used when one spouse earned significantly more money than the other spouse, who may have cared for the couple’s children or home. The purpose of rehabilitative support is to provide this person with enough financial stability to gain an education or new job skills and enter the workforce. As a result, these orders can last as long as it takes the receiving spouse to receive an education or job training.
Finally, permanent spousal support may be ordered if a marriage lasted a long time (more than 10 years) and the spouse seeking support is unable to join the workforce because of their age or an illness. Permanent spousal support orders usually last until either spouse dies.
Can My Divorce Judgment Change After It’s Finalized?
Modifications to divorce judgments can be requested in matters related to spousal support, child custody, and child support. The individual seeking a modification must file a petition with the court. A judge may only seriously consider the petition if there is a compelling reason for the request, such as a dramatic change in income or other circumstances that relate to the current order. Whether or not to grant a modification request is up to the judge’s discretion.
When Does Child Support End?
Under most circumstances, obligations to pay child support end when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. If an 18-year-old child is still in high school, then child support continues until they graduate or turn 19, whichever comes first.
Child support obligations can also end when a child gets married or registers in a domestic partnership, joins the military, becomes emancipated, or dies.
Parents can also agree to end child support, but any modifications to an existing order must be petitioned for and approved by a judge, who may not always agree with the parents.
Does Signing a Birth Certificate Make Me a Child’s Legal Father?
No, signing a birth certificate conveys no legal parent-child relationship. A man is assumed to be the legal father of a child if that child was born into his marriage. If a man is unmarried, his paternity must be legally established in court before he can assume any legal parental rights or responsibilities.
Who Pays the Attorneys’ Fees in a Divorce?
The court will determine which party is responsible for the cost of counsel and litigation in a divorce case. Usually, each spouse pays for their own attorney and legal costs, but a judge can order one spouse to pay for everything. When that occurs, it’s usually the spouse who earns a higher income or has the means to afford it.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Legally, no. You aren’t required to have professional legal representation in any family law matter. Representing yourself in court is known as pro se representation, but few attorneys would agree that this is an advisable way to handle your family law dispute.
By hiring a professional attorney, you have an advocate whose job is to fight for your interests and ensure your rights are protected. This person is professionally educated, licensed, and experienced to handle legal work. This makes them a better choice for going up against the opposing party and their attorneys.