DEFINITION OF DIVORCE: "The legal ending of a marriage."
NO FAULT DIVORCE STATE:
California is a ‘no fault’ state which means that you do not need ‘grounds’ in order to get a divorce. By simply stating ‘irreconcilable differences’ on your divorce Petition you can get divorced for any reason whatsoever.
In order to qualify to file for a divorce in California, either you or your spouse must have been residents of California for at least six (6) months prior to filing your Petition for Dissolution AND three (3) months in the County before filing.
You start your divorce by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Those initial pleadings must be personally served on the other spouse. Your spouse must then file a response lest he/she be defaulted resulting in a Judgment for the moving party. Once both parties have appeared in the matter they are required to exchange income and property disclosures. There must be full disclosure before your matter can proceed to trial or settled. Then the parties must meet and confer one time in a good faith attempt to resolve their issues. If they cannot resolve their issues than the divorce matter is set for a contested trial. At trial the Judge makes the final decisions on custody, visitation, support, and division of property.
CUSTODY IN DIVORCE CASES:
There are two (2) kinds of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody has to do with all of the major health, education and welfare decisions pertaining to your children. Physical custody deals with where and with whom your child will be living subject to the visitation rights of the other parent.
CHILD SUPPORT IN DIVORCE CASES:
Both parents have a statutory obligation to support their children to the best of their ability. For the most part child support is determined by a computer calculation that takes into consideration timeshare with the children; incomes of the parties; and a hand full of deductions (i.e. health insurance costs, union dues, mandatory retirement, etc.).
SPOUSAL SUPPORT IN DIVORCE CASES:
In California there are two phases to any divorce case when spousal support comes into play. First, is temporary spousal support. When the parties initially split up and the Court needs to issue a support order right away to keep the underemployed spouse above water pending the litigation (i.e. "pendente lite") the Court bases that support order on a calculation much like child support but only taking into consideration incomes of the parties. The second phase is the "permanent spousal support order". That order is based on a subjective application of Cal. Fam. Code 4320 factors at trial to the facts of any given case (i.e. duration of marriage, employment status, minor children, etc.).
DIVISION OF PROPERTY IN DIVORCE CASES:
In California divorce cases all property purchased during the marriage is divided up equally. All property from iPads to pensions gets inventoried, allocated and divided up as equally as possible. Sometimes an equalization payment is necessary to offset the difference if one spouse receives more property than the other.