Family Law. Divorce. Custody
Divorce isn’t typically something that newly engaged or married couples want to think about, but unfortunately it is a very real and common scenario in California and across the world. Did you know that 40-50% of marriages in the United States will end in divorce? There’s a wide range of reasons why a marriage may not work out, including lack of commitment, getting married too soon, infidelity, domestic violence, unrealistic expectations about marriage as well as arguing too much about money and finances. Filing for divorce and going through the motions of ending a marriage is a difficult time for every involved – emotionally and financially, which is why it’s so important to work with experienced family law attorneys who can make this process as smooth and amicable as possible for both parties. Family law consists of a couple’s right to get married, divorced, laws regarding child support and custody, alimony and more. This is all governed by California law and there are certain rules, regulations and court procedures put in place to protect the family unit during these difficult situations.
It’s fairly easy to get married in the state of California – the basic requirements are that both parties must be 18 or older, be capable of understanding the nature of the union and consent to the marriage. Many couples will choose to establish a prenup (prenuptial agreement) prior to getting married – this is a contract between both parties that can protect their best interest and finances in case of a divorce. In order for a prenup to be valid and hold up in court the only requirement is that it must be in writing and signed by both parties. There is also something called a postnuptial agreement, which is almost identical to a prenup except it is entered into after the marriage has already happened. Many couples will draft a postnuptial agreement when a business becomes very successful or when the career of one partner takes off.
When filing for divorce in California, there are specific requirements that need to be met – the main one is that one spouse must have been a resident of the state of California for six months, and for three months in the county where the divorce is filed. If this requirement is not met, then they can file for legal separation instead of divorce and then fix the paperwork once they reach the six-month or three-month requirement. California is a no-fault divorce state, which means that the filing spouse does not need to state a reason for the divorce – all that matters is that the partner wants out.
Separation and divorce becomes a little trickier when children are involved – the best way to split custody is for the parents to amicably work out a parenting plan and schedule together that is based on the best interests of the children involved. If the parents cannot agree on child custody, then the court will help them decide or decide for them. The court will look into the well being of the child(ren) and try to reduce the impact that the separation or divorce will have on their life. In California, both parents are equally entitled to child custody and visitation, and both parents are also legally required to financially support their children. If a parent fails to pay child support, they will face various legal consequences that can include wage garnishment, a suspension of their driver’s license and may get their tax refund taken. When it is time to determine custody and child support the court will make a decision based on the income levels of both parents and the amount of time each parent physically spends with the child(ren). Financial support will continue until the child(ren) turn 18 and graduate from high school, turn 19 or get married, die or legally free themselves in other ways, like enlisting in the armed forces. The court can also order both parents to continue to financially support an adult disabled child if the individual cannot support themselves.
Making the decision to file for divorce and go through custody mediation is a challenging time – financially and mentally. Our team at Gale, Angelo, Johnson & Pruett P.C., is strongly experienced in all aspects of family law and we can support you through the process from start to finish while maintaining your best interest and ensuring you get what you are entitled to. If you have any questions about divorce or custody procedures in California, please don’t hesitate to contact our office for assistance. You can fill out the form on our website, or we invite you to give us a call at (916) 290 – 7778.