Our first option will be to try to reach an agreement on issues related to the divorce. Then the rest can continue as it is. If negotiation fails, the Law Office of David C. Watts has the experience to guide you through the court process. Either way, in order to get a Divorce, Legal Separation or Annulment, you will need to file papers with the court. The Law Office of David C. Watts is here to help you through that process.
For more information on common divorce & separation issues, see below.
Nobody enters into a marriage wanting it to end. However, over time, things may change and either you or your spouse may decide the marriage cannot be saved. In California, there are three ways a marriage can be terminated, annulment, dissolution and legal separation. There are subtle differences between the three and they are as follows:
A legal separation is almost exactly like a divorce except once completed, the parties are still married. Neither party can remarry even after judgment is entered. Reasons why a couple may choose Legal Separation is for religious reasons or because one spouse can potentially remain on the health insurance of the other. The issues of property division, custody and support are also determined in a Legal Separation.
This is a complete undoing of the marriage. In other words, in the eyes of the law, the marriage never happened. Since the marriage never happened, issues of community property and spousal support do not apply. Grounds for an annulment are narrow and few will fit the criteria, but when the requirements are met, the court can annul the marriage. Examples of grounds for an annulment are:
- Force, unless afterward the party who was forced into the marriage freely cohabitated without coercion with the other party as husband and wife
- Lack of informed consent to the marriage
- Unsound Mind
- Either party, at the time of the marriage, was physically incapable of consummating the marriage, and the incapacity appears to be incurable.
- The husband or wife of the prior marriage was believed to be dead at the tie of the subsequent marriage, but in fact, was not.
The following details issues that may be considered in a divorce or legal separation. Since they proceed generally in the same manner, they will be discussed together. If you think your case fits the criteria for an annulment, please contact me for a consultation.
California is a no-fault state, which means that there need not be a finding that either spouse did anything wrong. Rather, all the court needs to hear is that one party believes irreconcilable differences have rendered the marriage unsalvageable. Both parties do not have to agree, all that is needed is for one party to testify under penalty of perjury that this is the case. If you are thinking about filing or if your partner has already filed, let me help you with this emotionally charged life-changing journey.
There are four main issues that come up with the dissolution of marriage, there are others, to be sure, but the main issues are Property Division, Child Custody & Visitation, Child Support and Spousal Support.
- What is mine, what is my spouses and what is ours together? How will this property be divided?
- These questions are undoubtedly swirling around in your head right now. While there are nuances and exceptions to the rules, the general premise for the property is that was acquired during the marriage (asset or debt) belongs to the community unless it was obtained through inheritance or gift. What was acquired prior to marriage, during marriage through inheritance or gift, or what is acquired after marriage (asset or debt) is considered separate property.
- Generally speaking, separate property is assigned to the rightful party and community property is divided equally between the parties. For a more in-depth discussion of property, division click here to be taken to the Property Division page.
Child Custody & Visitation
If there are children of the marriage, whether natural or adopted, a plan will need to be determined as to where the children live and what the visitation schedule will be. If the parties can agree to a schedule, it saves a lot of time, emotional stress and money. I will work hard to try to reach an agreement with your children’s other parent. However, if not, I am fully prepared to vigorously litigate your child custody and visitation issue. For more information on custody and visitation, click “here” to be taken to the Custody & Visitation Page.
Both parents are legally obligated to financially support their children. Whether you would be entitled to receive or obligated to pay support and how much depends on the circumstances of your case. The three main factors that determine support are your income, the other parent’s income and the timeshare (the amount of time the children spend with each parent). For more information on this topic, click “here” to be taken to the Child Support page.
Like child support, the right to receive or the obligation to pay spousal support depends on the facts of your specific case. In California, there are two different categories of spousal support, temporary and permanent support. These words have legal significance that is explained on the Spousal Support page and are not necessary to be taken literally. In other words, permanent support does not mean that one party will pay and the other will receive spousal support forever. If you believe you may be entitled to receive or be obligated to pay spousal support, please call for a case evaluation. More information on spousal support can be found by clicking here.