What is the difference between divorce and legal separation?
The ending of a marriage or domestic partnership is called a "dissolution of marriage" or "dissolution of domestic partnership". It is commonly referred to as a divorce. It ends a marriage and allows the parties to marry again; a legal separation does not.
Legal separation is different from divorce, and may be preferable for couples wishing to live apart while they formally decide on money, property, and parenting issues. Reasons include religion, to maintain health insurance for one through the other's plan, or to maintain benefits that require the parties to be married.
Dissolution of the marriage or legal separation may be based on either (a) irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage, or (b) incurable insanity.
In both divorce and legal separation cases, the parties may request orders for child and/or spousal support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, etc.
What is required to file a petition for dissolution of marriage in California?
At least one of the parties must have lived in California for at least 6 months and in the county in which the action is filed for at least 3 months, in order to file a petition for dissolution of marriage.
What assets and possessions are divided in a divorce?
Parties in a divorce can agree to the division of all marital or community property owned by the parties. If they cannot agree, a judge will divide the property. This typically includes most of the property the couple acquired during the marriage. It may include a home, a family business, cars, investments, furnishings, and other items. The value of intangible property may also be divided. This can include things such as trademarks, patents, copyrights, or even the value of a name such as in the case of a celebrity.
How much will a divorce cost?
There is no “set price” or way to accurately predict the cost of a divorce. Cases vary based on how complicated the issues are and how much the parties agree or disagree. Typically two most expensive issues to litigate in family law are child custody and the division of revenue from a business the parties own. You should ask your attorney to identify major issues in your situation that may add to your case or even save you money.
What is Joint Legal Custody?
Joint legal custody means that both parents have the legal right to make decisions concerning their children. This can include education, medical care, and other issues. California law encourages judges to award joint legal custody.
The court also has the power to award physical custody to one or both parents. This determines where your child or children actually live. Commonly children spend most of their time with one parent, while the other parent is usually granted secondary physical custody or visitation rights.
How does the court determine child support and/or spousal support?
Child support is set by a formula that all California family law attorneys and courts use. The calculation uses the gross incomes of both parties, the amount of time that each parent spends with the children, income tax filing status of each parent, economic hardships of each, etc. Spousal support may be temporary or permanent. Factors affecting the amount include the length of the marriage and financial earnings or the earning ability of each party in the divorce.