The Law Office of

 Michael M. Yellin

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Family Law
Divorce FAQs
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In California, the “grounds” for divorce are “Irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage” and “Incurable insanity” California is also a “No Fault” state.  It doesn’t matter if, or which, one of the parties is “bad.”

If you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce, the parties can enter into a stipulated judgment of dissolution.  The petition for dissolution of marriage is still filed with the court, and the stipulation can not become the court’s order until six months and one day have elapsed.  The stipulation can resolve all matters, including child and spousal support, child custody, and property divisions.  HOWEVER, the court maintains jurisdiction over child custody and support until all children reach the age of majority.  Meaning, even though the parties agreed, and singed the stipulation, in certain situations, either party may ask the court to modify the custody and/or child support order.

The family law courts in California are empowered to order “pendente lite,” or temporary, Spousal and/or Child support.  The request is made through an action called an “Order to Show Cause.”  This is a mini trial of sorts.  The parties must appear before a Judge or Commissioner, and can give testimony, and introduce evidence, to show that a party is entitled to Spousal Support, or the Children are entitled to Child Support.  The amount, at the temporary stage, is often based on a complex mathematical calculation.

In California, the soonest a Final Judgment of Dissolution will be ordered by the court, is six months and one day after the filing of the Petition that commences the divorce action.  Often times, it takes much longer.  I have seen divorces drag on for more than six years, and I am sure there are some that take longer.  However, even in those situations where the “divorce” goes on for years, any party may request a status only bifurcation.  In essence, the party asks the court to separate the “divorce” from the other issues in the case, and just declare the parties “divorced.”  This allows the parties to remarry and move on with their lives, apart from the other issues, which are generally property and financial in nature.

California is a “Community Property State”  Unfortunately, that if often times not enough to determine how the couples property will be divided.  Generally, any asset acquired, or income earned by a married person while living with his or her spouse is community property.  There are several exceptions, and the status of the asset can be changed, or “transmuted” in legal speak.  Therefore, you should consult an attorney for specifics about your particular situation.  Of course, if the parties executed a valid pre or post nuptial agreement, the agreement will determine how any assets will be divided.

California prefers that parties in all actions settle their disagreements.  For that reason, at any point before the trial, the parties may enter into a stipulation that is mutually beneficial to both, and will carry the weight of a court order.