California State Divorce Laws

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California Family Law And Divorce Resource

U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the divorce courts in California have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.

Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage. You can also visit the GotTrouble Divorce Resource for a more expanded understanding of this subject.

As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.

SAME SEX DIVORCE UPDATE:

On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. It follows, therefore, that the rights and obligations between same-sex divorcing parties are subject to the same dissolution laws of that state. Reference: US Supreme Court Opinion: Obergefell v. Hodges.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:

To file for a dissolution of marriage (divorce), one party must be a resident of California for six months, and a resident of the county in which the proceeding is filed for three months, before filing the petition. The superior court has jurisdiction in proceedings under this code.

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE: NO FAULT:

Dissolution of the marriage or legal separation may be based on either of the following grounds: (a) Irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage; or (b) Incurable insanity (only upon proof).

MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:

When issues are being contested, and there is a minor child of the spouses or parents or of either of them whose welfare might be affected thereby, the family conciliation court has jurisdiction as provided in this part over the controversy and over the parties to the controversy and over all persons having any relation to the controversy.

RELATED DIVORCE SERVICES AND RESOURCES

Marriage Counseling

Divorce Mediation Services

DNA Paternity Testing

Emergency Legal Lenders

Realtors – Relocation

Apartment Rentals

Roommate Search

Moving Services

Storage Facilities

Online Vocational Training

Meditation & Wellbeing

HELPFUL SERVICES & RESOURCESPROPERTY DIVISION:

California is a community property state. Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property (wherever situated) acquired during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.

Except upon the written agreement of the parties, or on oral stipulation of the parties in open court, or as otherwise provided in this division, the court shall divide the community estate of the parties equally. Separate property is not included in the division of the community estate.

Separate property of a married person includes all of the following: (1) All property owned by the person before marriage. (2) All property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent. (3) The rents, issues, and profits of the property described in this section. (b) A married person may, without the consent of the person’s spouse, convey the person’s separate property.

SPOUSAL SUPPORT:

The court shall consider the following factors in determining spousal support: (a) The ability to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following: (1) The ability of the spouse seeking support to gain self-supporting employment (2) The extent to which that spouse’s present or future earning capacity was impaired by periods of unemployment during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties. (b) The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party. (c) The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support. (d) The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage. (e) The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party. (f) The duration of the marriage. (g) supporting within a reasonable period of time. (m) Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.

SPOUSES LEGAL NAME:

In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for an annulment, but not in a proceeding for legal separation of the parties, the court, upon the request of a party, shall restore the birth name or former name of that party, regardless of whether or not a request for restoration of the name was included in the petition.

CHILD CUSTODY: BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD:

Either parent may be awarded custody. There is neither a preference nor a presumption for or against joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or sole custody, allowing the court and the family the widest discretion to choose a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child. In making a determination of the best interest of the child when deciding custody, the court shall consider all of the following:

  • Any history of abuse by one parent or any other person seeking custody against any of the following: (1) Any child to whom he or she is related by blood or affinity or with whom he or she has had a care-taking relationship, no matter how temporary. (2) The other parent. (3) A parent, current spouse, or cohabitant, of the parent or person seeking custody, or a person with whom the parent or person seeking custody has a dating or engagement relationship.
  • The habitual or continual illegal use of controlled substances or habitual or continual abuse of alcohol by either parent.

CHILD SUPPORT:

Both parents of a minor child have an equal responsibility to support their child in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances. The duty of support continues until the time the child completes the 12th grade or attains the age of 19 years, whichever occurs first. Both parents have an equal responsibility to maintain, to the extent of their ability, a child of whatever age who is incapacitated from earning a living and without sufficient means.

The right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement. Any provision regarding spousal support, including but not limited to, a waiver of it, is not enforceable if the party against whom enforcement of the spousal support provision is sought was not represented by independent counsel at the time the agreement was signed, or if the provision regarding spousal support is unconscionable at the time of enforcement.

ENFORCING CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS – FEDERAL OPTION:

Learn about the Federal Office of Child Support and Enforcement:

FIND LOCAL FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT AGENCY NEAR YOU

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS  

LEA ESPANOL

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