Divorce FAQ

Answers from a Roseville Divorce Lawyer

The Law Offices of Evan Samuelson understands that going through a divorce is one of the most confusing and overwhelming time periods. You are no doubt plagued with fears, doubts and questions. For your benefit, I have put together a list of common questions concerning divorce and the appropriate answers. Keep in mind, however, that your circumstances are unique and in order to receive the most relevant and helpful answers, I recommend you contact me today for a consultation! With over 20 years of legal experience as a Roseville divorce attorney , I have the knowledge and legal expertise you can rely upon.

What are the grounds for divorce in California?

California is a no-fault state which means you can cite "irreconcilable differences" as the basis for your divorce. In other words, if either party believes that a marriage has broken down, they can pursue a divorce.

Are there any residency requirements in order to obtain a divorce in California?

Yes. At least one of the parties to the dissolution action must have been a resident in California for at least six months prior to the filing of the action and a resident of the county, in which you file the divorce petition, at least three months prior to the action being filed.

What does the divorce process entail?

The first step you must take is to file and serve the divorce paperwork. Then the six month waiting period will commence. During this time, you will have to make important decisions about whether you need temporary financial support, whether you should sell your home, whether you need an order to determine the custody of your children, etc.

If you are the one who has been served the paperwork and you do not wish to divorce your spouse, you have 30 days to file a response with the court. If you choose to not file a response, the court will decide the outcome of the case based only on the person's view who served the divorce paperwork. If you file a response, you and your spouse will both be able to conduct "discovery" which is when both parties ask the person questions about his/her income, assets and debts, property, etc. After the discovery process is over, the divorce case is ready for trial. At the divorce trial, each side will have a chance to speak with the judge and present evidence. The judge will make a decision based upon the evidence presented.

What does the divorce timeline look like?

A typical divorce process goes as follows:

  • One spouse files a divorce petition and serves it on the other spouse
  • The receiving spouse has 30 days to respond to the petition
  • One of the spouses can request temporary court orders (concerning child custody, support and restraining orders)
  • The spouses engage in discovery
  • The spouses and their attorneys will discuss settlement of the case
  • If the case is resolved by agreement, a Marital Settlement Agreement will be prepared
  • If the parties cannot agree on all issues, a trial takes place
  • After the Marital Settlement Agreement has been signed or the trial has concluded, one of the attorneys prepares a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage (the document that contains all court orders)
  • This judgment is filed and a Notice of Entry of Judgment is mailed to each attorney

How long does the divorce process take?

Usually about six months after the time your spouse has been served his/her divorce papers. This is the minimum "waiting period" in the state of California. This waiting period is so that you and your spouse don't change your mind about getting a divorce.

Typically, if you have been married for less than five years, have no children, don't own real estate and have few property debts, you can qualify for a summary dissolution. This is a simpler process in which you do not have to appear before a judge. You must simply agree with your spouse about how you will divide your property and the debts and follow the necessary forms with the court. You will still have to wait six months, however, before the divorce is finalized.

In other cases (such as a high-net divorce), the divorce process can be extremely dragged out, but hiring an experienced divorce attorney can help make this process as simple and speedy as possible!

How are custody and visitation determined?

California bases child custody on "the best interests of the children." Usually, California courts prefer joint custody, as this allows the child to maintain a deep relationship with both of his/her parents. Mediation is often used when a couple cannot come to agreement on custody and visitation issues; if no agreement can be reached the court can step in and decide what is in the best interests of the children.

Will I get spousal support?

Spousal support is determined based upon the earnings of both parties, the contributions both parties made in the marriage, the supporting party's assets and ability to pay support, the assets and separate property of each party, how long the marriage lasted, the ability of both parties to obtain employment, the education and work experience of both parties, the age of both parties, the standard of living maintained during the marriage and the hardships of both parties. If you are awarded spousal support, this is usually temporary as the court always desires that the supported party become self-sustaining, within a reasonable period of time.

How will our property be divided?

California is a community property state which means that all assets and liabilities acquired in marriage are split evenly between both parties. If separate property is involved, the court usually steps in. In cases like these, it is helpful to have a divorce attorney on your side so that your arguments are voiced and your best interests are properly represented.

How is child support determined?

Child support is based upon the income and expenses of both parties and the amount of time which the children spend with each parent. The state of California has enacted child support guidelines which govern the correct amount of child support due.

What is a legal separation?

Legal separation does not terminate a marriage and thus legal separations are usually viable options for individuals who wish to live apart but want to legally determine property issues, money issues and parenting decisions together. There is no waiting period in a legal separation and you do not have to be a legal resident of California. While all property is divided, child and spousal support is ordered, custody/visitation is resolved and a divorce judgment is entered at the end, the couple is not divorced in the end. Unlike in a divorce, you cannot legally separate unless both parties agree to it. A legal separation can be a good option if you need time and space to think through the implications of divorce before taking the plunge. At a later time, the separated parties can elect to file an amended petition for the dissolution of their marriage.

What are the pros and cons of mediation?

Mediation can be much more effective as you will get the chance to fully discuss issues, learn to communicate better, and take time in between each appointment to think about the proposed solutions. Mediation is usually faster as well and allows you and your spouse to discuss your goals and the future in more in-depth manner. In mediation, your attorney can advise you, clarify legal issues and help draw up agreements, but mediation allows you and your spouse to have more control and input.

Should I hire a divorce attorney?

It is always advised that you secure legal assistance before navigating through the murky waters of a divorce. Issues such as property settlements, spousal support and child custody can be complex, difficult and usually, emotionally charged subjects that you will have to determine before obtaining a divorce. Why hire a divorce attorney? A family law attorney can provide the following services for you:

  • A lawyer can divide your property and put a property settlement agreement into writing
  • A lawyer can explain to you your rights and duties as a parent
  • A lawyer can assist you, should any unforeseen problem arise
  • A lawyer can advise you about how much money (if any!) you should be paying for spousal or child support

To find out more information on why it is advisable to hire a divorce attorney and to receive further information on the divorce process and what you should expect, contact the Law Offices of Evan Samuelson today for the trusted answers you can rely upon!

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