Divorce is an extremely turbulent and emotional time. As such you may find yourself thinking and doing things that you would not normally do. The most devoted of parents have been known to put their children in the middle. Often times you will hear somebody say, “I just don’t know this person anymore” about somebody in the process of a divorce. They are right. Most people do go through some sort of metamorphosis during their divorce. We tend to be much more emotional and rash in our decision making. It’s part of the process that we must watch very carefully. Try to always think before you act. What will be the effect of today’s action tomorrow? This is especially true if you have children.
If you’ve either decided you are ready to get divorced, or you are seriously considering it – What is the next step? It is important to know what your options are, what rights you have, and what you can expect from the process. It is true that divorce is typically an adversarial process, and having an attorney to represent you and guide you is necessary to ensure you get the best possible outcome. California is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means neither spouse needs to prove that the other spouse is the reason for the divorce. Instead, parties may simply cite “irreconcilable differences” or an “irreparable breakdown of the marriage” when filing for divorce.
Where do you file for divorce? State courts have jurisdiction over divorce proceedings, so the spouse who files the initial divorce “petition” or “complaint” in their state court begins the process. Most states have their own set of residency requirements that you must meet before filing for divorce. In California, the residency requirement is six (6) months. Other states may require less time, and this varies from state to state. Before filing for divorce, you will need to meet not only the residency requirement, but potentially other local requirements as well. In California, no divorce decree may be finalized until six months after the divorce paperwork is provided to the respondent or the respondent’s first court appearance, whichever comes first. The Johnson Law Firm specializes in Family Law and Divorce. We will guide you through the divorce process, including separation of assets, child custody and child visitation, spousal support/alimony, and any court appearances you need to make. Contact us today for a consultation, or call 661.575.9811.
The summary divorce or “dissolution” process is less paperwork than a traditional divorce proceeding. It is also worthy to note that it is not the same as an Annulment. The requirements for a summary divorce or dissolution vary from state to state, but typically require that the duration of the marriage was relatively short, there are no minor children in common, there are no significant property interests, the total value of marital property is less than a specified amount, the total value of either spouses’ separate property is less than a specified amount, and both spouses agree to give up the right to any spousal support. This type of divorce, granted the strict conditions are met, is generally effective when both spouses are on amicable terms.
Legal separation is a middle ground between being married and divorce. If you have decided you no longer want to live with your spouse, but are not certain you want a divorce, you may want to consider getting a legal separation. When considering a legal separation, you will still need to address the issues of child custody, visitation, and spousal support. You are still legally married to your spouse, although you will not be living together. Legal separation is an option for couples who oppose divorce for religious or moral reasons, you wish to maintain eligibility for government benefits such as social security, healthcare benefits, tax benefits or liability, you are not currently eligible for divorce due to state residency requirements but wish for legal documentation, or you believe there is a chance you can reconcile your differences. There are still considerations to remain eligible for certain benefits, which may not apply to a spouse who has legally separated. For more information, please contact a lawyer at The Johnson Law Firm to go over your specific case.
An annulment, contrary to a summary divorce, is when the court rules your marriage not legally valid. After an annulment, it is like your marriage never happened because it was never legal. A marriage is never legally valid if the relationship is incestuous – when the two parties are close blood relatives, or if it is bigamous – where a spouse is already married to someone else. Marriages can also be deemed invalid if one party was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, either party was of “unsound mind” – meaning they were unable to understand the nature of the marriage or partnership, there was fraud involved – for example, marriage only to get a green card or hiding the inability to have children, there was a threat of force – either party consented to getting married as a result of force, or physical incapacity. For an annulment, you must be able to prove to a judge that one of these conditions is true in your case. Citing “irreconcilable differences” is not a valid reason for an annulment, but instead traditional divorce proceedings are appropriate in that case. The time limit for annulments vary between 4 years to no time limit depending on the circumstances. However, it still may be very difficult to prove any of these reasons are true. A divorce lawyer is vital for helping you understand the burden of proof you will be required to present to a judge. After getting an annulment, you will need to consider asking the judge to grant orders in relation to child support, as well as to make orders for custody and visitation rights.
As will all divorces and separations, determining spousal support is a central issue that must be resolved. You will need to consider how long any spousal support will last and how it affects your taxes. The divorce lawyers at The Johnson Law Firm will guide you in calculating the spousal support you are due, and preparing documentation for legal proceedings. Child support is also a major consideration, please follow this link to learn more about child support.
This is a list of things that under normal circumstances most people would never do. This list was developed based on personal experiences, having had these things done to us, or as much as we may hate to admit it, having done some of these ourselves. If you can follow these guidelines you will find that you behaved in a mature rational way. Not only can you be proud but you will find that more things will be better in the long run. Easier said than done but give it your best try. The list is not exhaustive, but it is a start.
With over 35 years of experience, The Johnson Law Firm is well-versed in the law and the language and mannerisms of the court room. We can help you resolve your matter as quickly as possible while at the same time trying to minimize your legal expenses.