If you recently moved to California, you may not yet realize that the Golden State actually has a number of unique laws when it comes to family law practice, especially when compared to the typical U.S. state. That’s why the California bar exam is notoriously hard to pass. Of course, this can also make the divorce process especially confusing for California transplants (of which there are millions).
So how are divorce and family law different in California?
First, California has a law that states that a couple must reside in California for six months before they have the opportunity to file for divorce. Additionally, California is one of the eight U.S. states that follows the Community Property law, which states that any money, possessions, or debts accrued throughout the duration of the marriage is property that belongs to both spouses. Separate property is accrued before the marriage is finalized. This means that any assets gained during the marriage are considered to be property of both spouses. In extreme cases, exceptions can be made, but for the most part, it’s a rigid law that can only be surpassed by the presence of a legal premarital agreement. Even then, there are studies that suggest that signing a premarital or prenuptial agreement can increase the risk of a divorce.
Another aspect of California divorce law and family law practice is that it’s a “No Fault Divorce” state. This means that neither spouse has to prove that the other did any wrongdoing. Instead, it can be based on what is called “irreconcilable differences.” This means that either spouse can simply go to the courthouse and filing for a divorce, and by law, it must be granted without any further explanation other than checking the box that says “irreconcilable differences.”
California also has an option for an “uncontested divorce,” which means that if both parties want to separate, they don’t need to go to court — they can simply hire a divorce attorney. There is also the option for a simplified divorce, which means that both parties must represent themselves in court and make their case in front of a judge. There are certain stipulations required in order to file for this type of divorce, such as not having any children and being married for less than five years, but it’s a good option for a quick and easy divorce, and since there are no children involved, you won’t need to seek out a family law firm for family law lawyers for child custody legal advice. $37.9 billion dollars in child support was owed during the year 2011, so being able to avoid alimony is a major benefit.
Overall, divorce laws in California aren’t wildly different from other states, but it’s still important to be aware of the fact that divorce laws do differ greatly from state to state. If you need additional divorce or family law practice advice, contact us today.