Simple and Complex Divorce in California
The simplest method of dissolving a marriage in California is annulment, used to declare a marriage legally invalid, as happens when one spouse is a minor, was forced or deceived into the marriage, or was already married to another person. Partners wishing to divorce after less than five years of marriage, who do not have children and are not pregnant, do not own real estate, have no more than $6000 in joint debt and own no more than $36,000 in joint property, can file for a summary dissolution. A simple procedure that takes about six months, a summary dissolution generally costs only a few hundred dollars in filing fees.
For couples who own real estate, have children, and/or have been married for longer than five years, there are two basic types of divorce; the simple, or uncontested divorce, and the complex, or contested divorce.
The Simple or Uncontested Divorce And When To Hire An Orange County Or Irvine Divorce Law Firm
There are two basic grounds for divorce in the State of California, irreconcilable differences, which states that the marriage is irreparably broken and cannot be fixed through counseling or other measures, and insanity, which is generally only used when one spouse has been declared legally insane and committed to an appropriate facility.
If the divorcing couple can agree on division of property, child support, child custody and visitation rights, spousal support and any other family law matters surrounding the dissolution of marriage, the divorce can be handled by one attorney, who files the appropriate paperwork, with one partner filing a petition for divorce and the other filing a response not contesting the divorce. The couples then file financial disclosures and request a judgment from the court, with the whole process taking not much longer than six months.
If a couple is unable to agree on part or all of a divorce settlement, the matter becomes more complex. This becomes what is known as a contested divorce, and can involve considerable litigation costs.
Complex or Contested Divorces
A complex or contested divorce is unfortunately much more common, due to complicating factors which the couple simply cannot agree upon, such as spousal support, child custody and visitation rights and child support. These are very emotional issues that can quickly lead to hotly contested, very nasty divorce litigation.
In a complex or contested divorce, both parties retain counsel; provide financial statements and balance sheets, bank account information and anything else that will help a judge determine the assets that need to be divided. After a hard-fought court case that can easily run as much as six figures or more in attorneys’ fees and court costs, the family law judge will make a determination as to the separation of assets, child custody, visitation rights, child support, spousal support and any other relevant decisions.
In the State of California, all of the property acquired by a couple during the time they are married is considered community property, irregardless of whether one partner may have contributed significantly more to the marriage, financially. In the absence of a prenuptial or post-marital agreement, the court will divide community property equally between the spouses. To avoid forcing a sale of property, the judge will make every attempt to divide the property according to value, for example giving the house to the spouse with custodial rights to the children, and property of equal value to the other spouse, such as cars and investment property.