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California Divorce Facts

Posted by Shawn Murphy | Sep 26, 2023 | 0 Comments

California Divorce FAQ

Whether your divorce is contentious or not, whether you have children or not, whether you have a lot of assets or not, whether just about anything, there is one common theme among all divorce: it is emotionally taxing. Under those circumstances, it can be easy to overlook an important matter or to compromise to something to your detriment. A divorce lawyer in California will make sure nothing is missing and that the divorce is fair and considers your rights and interests.

At Murphy Family Law, we help clients understand what's at stake. Some of the most common questions asked are answered here for you. We know that informed clients make better decisions for themselves and their families. If you want specific answers that relate to your unique situation, contact us online or at (530) 433-0801 to a consultation.

How much will my divorce cost?

The cost of your divorce will depend on multiple factors, but mainly it depends on whether the divorce is contested or not. Quite naturally, an uncontested divorce will not cost as much simply because the process is much more straightforward. In an uncontested divorce, you may not even see a day inside the courtroom. But in contested divorces, the costs depend on factors like:

  • The extent of the disputes or disagreements between the spouses
  • The potential for custody battles
  • The number of assets, including the allegations of hidden assets
  • The attorney you hire––and that does not only mean the attorney fees but the lawyer's legal competency and negotiating skills

Giving a precise prediction of how much your divorce will cost is impossible because of the various factors that go into it. The starting point in terms of costs is the filing fee associated with the divorce complaint, and then from there, it depends on the circumstances.

What if my spouse does not want a divorce?

You can still file for divorce even if your spouse does not want the divorce.  If your spouse refuses to participate, you can always take a default judgment against him or her; however, you must plead your Petition very carefully and if you believe your spouse is not going to participate, it is very important to obtain the services of a competent divorce attorney to ensure that your default judgment is properly plead and you follow all procedural rules.  California, like all states,  allows no-fault divorces. No fault simply means the marriage has irretrievably broken down or the spouses have irreconcilable differences.  

Can I sue for divorce in California on the grounds of adultery?

California is a no-fault state, meaning you do not have to have a ground for divorce. However, even though California is a no fault-based state, if your spouse cheated on you and during the affair, they wasted marital property (e.g., cash) on it, you could potentially seek reimbursement. In this situation, a judge would make up for the waste via asset distribution to the spouse who did not waste funds on a lover.

How is child custody or support determined?

Child custody, visitation, and child support are determined case-by-case. The court always will make a determination using the "best interests of the child" standard. In general, though, courts want both parents to build strong relationships with their children. Courts also recognize that both parents are financially responsible for the child. Child custody, visitation, and child support will reflect those beliefs as the basis of the determination.  Most jurisdictions have a preference for joint legal and joint physical custody unless the best interest of the child dictate an alternate result.

How is alimony determined?

Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance, is determined on a case-by-case basis.  California courts will consider the present earning ability and future earning opportunities of the spouses. If one spouse was dependent on the other spouse through the marriage, that factor will weigh heavily on any court's decision on alimony.

How are assets and debt divided in California?

Assets and debt are divided according to your state's approach to the division of property. There are two approaches: community property and equitable distribution. In the first approach, property and debts are divided equally. In the second approach, a 50/50 isn't necessarily––what matters is what's fair.  California is a community property state, meaning that assets and property acquired during the marriage are presumed to equally owned by both spouses.  There are some exceptions, such as for separate property acquired by gift or inheritance, or property acquired prior to marriage.  It is important to seek the advice of a qualified family law attorney to determine whether your assets are community or separate and how they might be divided by a court.

My spouse is abusive. How do I protect myself during the divorce?

Spouses who have abusive spouses are in most danger when they seek divorce. You should protect yourself by getting as much help and support you can. You can file a restraining order, seek kick out orders from residential property, or obtain a short term emergency protective order from a police officer who responds to a call of a domestic dispute. You should also consider state and local programs aimed at helping survivors of domestic abuse, such as Catalyst in Butte County, or Sierra Community House in Nevada, Placer, and Plumas Counties. You also want to build a network of support using friends and family as well as a supportive family law attorney.

How do I start my divorce in California?

To start any divorce in any state, you have to file a petition to dissolve the marriage with the court clerk. The court where you must file the petition varies state to state or county to county. Once the petition is filed, the other spouse has 30 days to answer the petition unless the divorce is a mutual one, making an answer unnecessary. The most efficient way to start a divorce is to contact a divorce attorney to handle it for you. This way the petition is properly filed and/or timely answered. 

Contact a Divorce Lawyer in Northern California

If you are thinking of a divorce or have been served divorce papers, contact Murphy Family Law by using the online contact form or calling us at (530) 433-0801. We will schedule a 60 minute, paid consultation so that you can get your most immediate questions answered more specifically.

About the Author

Shawn Murphy

Attorney - Certified Family Law Specialist

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