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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are some issues that will need to be resolved in my divorce?

Child custody, child support, spousal support, property division and visitation are all issues which will likely need to be addressed if you are considering divorce. Any of these can be complex and difficult to deal with, and as such it is important to work with a San Fernando Valley divorce lawyer who can work to effectively represent your interests and protect your rights.

I was married in another state but want to file for divorce in California. Can I do this?

Yes. Regardless of the state in which you and your spouse were married, you may file for divorce in California as long as you or your spouse has lived in the state for 6 months and in the county for 3 months.

My spouse does not want to get a divorce, but I do. Can I still file for divorce even without their permission?

Yes. California is a “no fault” state when it comes to divorce. This means that you do not have to have particular grounds for divorce, such as adultery, abuse or separation. You may file based upon “irreconcilable differences” even if your spouse does not wish to get a divorce.

What is alimony? Can only women receive it?

Alimony is another word for spousal support, which is a specific amount of money paid from one ex-spouse to another in the event of a legal separation or divorce. Either the ex-husband or ex-wife may receive spousal support, depending upon several different factors.

If the house my spouse and I purchased was put only under my name, is it possible that I may have to surrender half to my spouse in our divorce?

Generally speaking, any property acquired during a marriage will be deemed “community property” meaning it will almost certainly be subject to equal distribution in the event of a divorce. Even if a house is only under one spouse's name it is probably community property if acquired during the marriage from the joint efforts of both spouses.

Does an "uncontested divorce" mean my spouse and I have to agree on all issues?

No. Uncontested divorce simply means you and your spouse are choosing to complete your divorce by way of a mediator outside of the courtroom. No divorce is truly uncontested, as you and your spouse will inevitably disagree on at least some of the issues. The major difference between contested and uncontested divorce is that in uncontested divorce, the two parties will resolve their issues through a mediator. In cases of contested divorce, the court will ultimately decide the terms of the divorce.

In what cases does parentage have to be established in court?

In cases where two individuals are married, paternity is typically assumed. The husband of the woman is presumed to be the legal father, unless a paternity test is requested. Parentage most typically needs to be established in court in the case of unmarried parents. In these cases, a child will not have a legal father until parentage is established by way of a Declaration of Paternity.

Will the judge consider the children's wishes during the custody hearing?

In California, there is no specified age when the judge will be required to give heed to a child's preferences in a custody hearing. However, the law does require the court to give "due weight" to a child's preference, if the child is "of sufficient age," and new reforms to the law have added that a child of 14 years of age can directly address the court regarding their wishes pertaining to visitation and custody. The ultimate decision lies with the court regarding how much weight will be given to the child's wishes and whether their wishes are in their best interest.

How long does a divorce take in California?

Because no two couples are alike, it is almost impossible to correctly predict how long your divorce will take. The law does provide that a divorce cannot be legally finalized any earlier than six months from the date the petition was served. Factors that may lead to an even longer divorce proceeding include child custody, visitation, division of property and child/spousal support.

Is there a faster way to obtain a divorce than a regular dissolution?

Yes, but it is limited to a very small portion of couples. Summary dissolutions are a fast and easy way for a couple to obtain a divorce if they mutually agree to it. However, there are multiple requirements that the couple will need to meet in order to qualify for a summary dissolution including the duration of the marriage, the amount of community property and the absence of children in the marriage. If you don't qualify for a summary dissolution, there are ways you and your spouse can ensure there are no unnecessary delays in the divorce. This includes splitting joint banking accounts, changing titles, updating tax forms and wills or trusts. You can also promote the efficiency of your divorce by hiring a divorce attorney to guide you through the process.

If I'm not the biological parent, can I still get custody of my child?

Yes, if you are a legal parent of the child. California family law gives more weight to legal status rather than biological relation. This means that if you adopted the child as your own during the marriage, you have the same credibility for custody as if you were the biological parent. For fathers of children born out of wedlock, you can only petition for custody of a child if you previously established as the father. Establishing paternity is extremely important because without it, biological fathers of children born outside of a marriage have no legal claim to the child.

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