Marital Dissolution In California
When it's time for the ring to come off, the professional, trusted divorce attorneys at Beach & Niman are ready to help.
When couples seek to end their marriage, divorce is the first option they think about. It is, by far, the most common method of terminating a marriage.
California is a "no-fault" divorce state, meaning that the state does not ask why two parties are seeking a divorce. For most cases, stating that there are "irreconcilable differences" is enough. Many people assume that this means the process is simple, and that a few forms will effectively terminate their marriage. While a divorce may involve many forms, a single mistake could leave you with an unfair settlement, a mountain of bills or, worse, a substandard visitation schedule to see your children.
Terminating a marriage is more than the ending of a partnership. It is a distribution of assets and liabilities, an arrangement for child and/or spousal support, and sometimes a schedule of visitation for children. Because of the complexity involved, it is best to consult with an experienced family law firm like Beach & Niman before filing your forms. Even an uncontested divorce can raise unexpected issues. During your free consultation, Beach & Niman will explain how California divorce law applies to your unique situation. Most commonly, these laws apply to:
Even if there are no children involved and both parties agree that a divorce is best, the attorneys at Beach & Niman can help to reach a settlement agreement fair to both parties. By acting as a third party, the attorneys at Beach & Niman can help to deflect the often painful emotions divorce proceedings bring out. Often, having a third party in the room is enough to permit cooler heads to prevail.
California divorce law has several requirements, one of which is that the parties must live in California for at least six months before filing for divorce. But what if you just arrived in California and need to get divorced? That is where legal separation comes in.
Legal separation is much like a divorce, but you can ask for it at any time. Legal separation is not simply "taking a break" or "cooling off", but is instead more like a pre-divorce. You and your spouse will go through essentially the same procedure as you would for a divorce, including accounting for and dividing up all assets, working out a child custody and visitation schedule, and setting up child support or spousal support payments.
However, there are important differences between a divorce and a legal separation. The most important difference is that at the end of a legal separation you and your spouse are not divorced. This means that you cannot marry other people if you are only legally separated. Also, unlike a divorce, there is no residency requirement for a legal separation. Even if you just arrived in North County San Diego yesterday, you can file for legal separation today. Legal separation, unlike divorce, does not necessarily protect your assets. If you are legally separated, but attempting reconciliation, and your spouse continues to ring up debts your assets may be in jeopardy. Finally, both spouses must agree to a legal separation, otherwise it will become a divorce (or get shelved until the residency requirements are met.)
At the end of a legal separation, and once the residency requirements are met, it is often very easy to transition an order for legal separation into a divorce decree.
Marital Dissolution Agreements
While marital dissolution agreements are not separate from divorce or legal separation, they are an oft-overlooked option. Importantly, they are an option not available by form.
A marital dissolution agreement is like a settlement agreement. The parties involved come to a legal agreement regarding property allocation, child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and distribution of property. It is important to realize that without a marital dissolution agreement, a judge (with many other matters to attend to!) decides what happens to your money, your children, and your property. While there is some judicial oversight and approval required to finalize a marital dissolution agreement, a judge is likely to sign off on most reasonable agreements.Judges recognize that the people most familiar with their children and assets are the couple themselves, and generally acquiesce to agreements that are not unfair to one party.
The family law attorneys at Beach & Niman can help you and your spouse come to an agreement more suited to your unique situation than a judge would order. By acting as a mediator, we can help temper unpleasant emotions and ensure that you have a say in what happens to your money, property, and most importantly, your children.
Sometimes, you just wish you'd never gotten married in the first place.
While annulments are rare, California law does permit them. An annulment says that your marriage was never valid in the first place, and therefore never legally happened. The grounds for an annulment are narrow, and include both mandatory and discretionary grounds.
A marriage is never valid if:
A marriage may be annulled if:
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These are the very basics of dissolution of marriage in California. Terminating a marriage is a complex event that often turns on the circumstances unique to each case. The decision to dissolve a marriage is one of the most significant (and potentially expensive) choices you will ever make. You wouldn't buy a house without a Realtor, and you wouldn't invest without a financial adviser. Don't put your assets, children, or even future marriages at risk by relying on cheap internet forms. Contact the attorneys at Beach & Niman today and let us help you out of your unhappy marriage and into new beginnings.