Q: How does a court split up property in a divorce?
A: A court will look at separate and community property since California is a community property state. Anything owned equally by both parties is split equally. However, some assets that cannot be split equally may be able to be sold or you may receive their relative net worth from your former spouse. Other times, one spouse may pay more for an uneven split of assets in order to pay less in child support or alimony.
Q: What are the grounds for divorce in California?
A: California is a "no-fault divorce" state, which means that there doesn't need to be any showing of wrongdoing on the part of one spouse in order for the other to file for divorce. In general terms, there are two primary grounds for divorce: irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity. The vast majority of divorces in California are filed on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, which may be something as simple as the spouses being incompatible.
Q: How long do divorce proceedings take?
A: Under California law, there must be a six-month period from the time of serving process on one spouse until the date the divorce can be finalized. However, six months is the minimum period for an uncontested divorce where the spouses have agreed on all issues. Contested divorces can take longer when disputes arise or issues involving complex assets or children need to be resolved. However, legal separation is one option that takes place immediately and works in many of the same ways as divorce.
Q: What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?
A: Legal separation is not legally a termination of marriage. As a result, when a period of legal separation ends, you are still married to your spouse. Legal separation can be a good option if a couple is not sure they want a divorce or choose not to divorce for financial or religious reasons. Both legal separation and divorce still include court orders for child and spousal support, child custody and visitation, property division, and other issues.
Q: Do I have to go to court?
A: Divorce does not have to involve a courtroom unless you and your former spouse cannot agree on the basic divorce provisions. A court will only be involved if collaborative law methods or mediation fails. Mediation and collaborative law are great options for parties who are able to work through their differences and reach agreement on all aspects of the divorce.
Q: How does the court determine child custody?
A: If both parties cannot come to an agreement involving child custody, a court will look at the best interests of the child in determining child custody arrangements. Courts typically favor joint custody so that both parents continue to have access to the children as well as frequent visitation periods.
Q: How is child support determined?
A: If both parties cannot come to an agreement on child support in mediation, the court will rely on a set of statutory guidelines that considers each parent's monthly income, the number of children needing support and other factors to determine a fair child support order. The child support order can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances for either parent.
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