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What to Know About Getting Divorced in California

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Divorce is a stressful time for everyone involved. The married couple, their family, and their friends all feel the emotional upset caused by divorce. But divorce in the United States is actually pretty common, with about 40 to 50 percent of married couples eventually divorcing. If you’re a California resident wanting a divorce, here’s some information that can help.

1. You Must Live in California

To file for divorce in California, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months. You can then file for divorce and serve your spouse with official divorce papers. After your spouse receives the notice, you’ll need to wait at least six more months before it’s possible to finalize the divorce.

2. Common-Law Marriages Aren’t Recognized

California doesn’t allow common law marriage. If you didn’t receive a marriage license to make the marriage official, then you can’t get a legal divorce. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together, if you have children, or if you took the other person’s name. Common-law marriage is never recognized in California.

3. Acceptable Reasons for Divorce

California has a no-fault divorce law. That means it's not necessary to prove that either spouse caused the divorce. But California accepts only two grounds for divorce:

  • Irreconcilable differences - this means there’s no way to save the marriage. The couple has tried to work it out, but the marriage is irreparable.

  • Incurable insanity - this means the spouse is officially diagnosed as insane. Acceptable proof includes psychiatric testimony or testimony from a competent medical professional.

4. Child Custody

In matters concerning child custody, California prefers that children remain in contact with both parents following divorce. Joint custody agreements are preferred unless it’s not in the child’s best interest. But if you and your spouse can agree to share custody, the court will likely approve the request.

Mediation sessions are required if you and your spouse can’t agree on joint custody. If you still can’t reach an agreement, the judge will decide what’s best for the children.

5. Matters Concerning Child Support

Child support depends on the income of both parents. Other sources of income are also taken into consideration. The amount of time spent with the child or children matters as well. Either parent can possibly receive child support.

6. Division of Property

California uses a community property system. That means all property and debt acquired during the marriage are equally shared. Anything that you obtained during the marriage (income, property, etc…), belongs to both you and your spouse. This doesn’t include property, gifts, inheritances, or money that you obtained prior to the marriage.

7. Divorce for Same-Sex Marriages

Now that same-sex marriages are legal nationwide, divorce laws also apply to same-sex couples. California divorce laws apply to all legally married couples. However, California still allows and recognizes domestic partnerships.

To dissolve a domestic partnership, the California Secretary of State must receive a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership from the couple. There is then a six month waiting period before the partnership is officially dissolved. But if one partner contests the termination, the couple will have to follow traditional divorce proceedings.

Seek Legal Help for Your Divorce

Getting a divorce in California can become complicated. And you want to make sure that everything is done correctly and legally. For help with your divorce, contact the Law Office of Tiffany L. Andrews, P.C.

We provide trusted legal representation that you can trust. You’ll receive guidance and advice for all steps in the divorce process. And we’ll work to get your divorce finalized as efficiently and as quickly as possible.

Call us today at (916) 794-4576 to learn more about how our Folsom divorce lawyers can help you with your divorce.

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