Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements for getting a divorce in California?
A divorce in California can only be obtained if either spouse has lived in California for at least six months before filing for dissolution.
Petitioners must also have lived in the county in which the proceeding is filed for at least three months. If you reside in CA now but do no meet these requirements, thre is analternative option. Contact an attorney to discuss your options.
Can I get a divorce if my spouse doesn’t want a divorce?
Yes, California is a “no fault” state, which means a divorce can be pursued even if one of the parties will not give consent to the filing. After the respondent receives the Petition for Dissolution from the petitioner, the respondent has 30 days to reply. If the respondent has
not answered the petition by the required date, judgment can be entered through the default process.
What happens after the Petition for Divorce is filed?
Once your Petition for Divorce has been filed, the petitioning spouse must have the Petition and all other relevant documents served on their spouse. Usually by personal delivery. Upon receiving the documents, the respondent has 30 days to respond. During this time, each party is responsible for disclosing all assets and debts. As the process progresses, any custody arrangements and child support payments will need to be agreed upon and solidified. These arrangements are usually temporary and can be modified at a later date.
How will our property be divided?
By California law, each spouse is entitled to half of all community property.
What happens if we cannot agree on custody or visitation?
In a situation whether neither party can come to a custody agreement, the judge will then be required to make the decision on your behalf. Before your hearing, the courts will require that you and your spouse meet with a court approved mediator to try and sort out the issues withholding you from finding an agreeable solution. In certain counties, if at the conclusion of mediation, a solution is not met, the counselor can make a custody recommendation to the court. In other counties, the sessions are strictly confidential and the counselor may only report agreements reached by both parties.
Will the judge consider our children’s wishes when deciding the custody arrangement?
A child’s wishes about their custody situation will be considered if the child is “of sufficient age and capacity to reason”. As it is often difficult to determine if either parent has influenced the child’s opinion, the Judge is not required to follow the child’s wishes. This is an example of a situation where a court-appointed mediator or counselor or court appointed counsel or minor may help.
What is a "marriage of long duration" and how does it affect spousal support?
A “marriage of long duration” is defined as a marriage lasting longer than ten years. Spouses in a “marriage of long duration” may be entitled to indefinite spousal support. Though ten years is the general time requirement to declare a marriage of long duration, there are special circumstances in which shorter marriages may qualify.
What is QDRO and why do I need one?
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order is a legal order that divides or changes the ownership of a pension plan or retirement. Some pension plans only allow payment to the spouse earning the benefit though their employment. A QDRO grants the pension plan participant access to the retirement fund to pay an ex-spouse or dependent children. Because both spouses have rights to the benefits provided by a pension plan, obtaining a QDRO ensures that both parties receive their legal share of retirement assets.
What is the difference between a “Date of Separation” and a “Legal Separation”?
In the petition or response, each spouse will alleage a “date of separation”. Once the date of separation is determined (by the court as trial or by agreement of the parties), this is the date that all accumulation of community property assets and debts will cease to accrue. A “legal separation” is the formal process conducted through the court system that divides the parties’ assets and debts and establishes child custody arrangements and child support. This process is commonly sought out by couples who are not sure they wish to divorce or would like to stay married for religious reasons or to continue receiving insurance benefits through their spouse’s employment.
What is “standard” or “normal” visitation?
A normal visitation order usually gives the non-custodial parent alternating weekend contact beginning on Friday in the afternoon/evening and ending Sunday afternoon/evening. This arrangement also usually includes one mid-week dinner visitation. As well as provisions for holidays and non-school time.