When facing divorce, it is essential that you have experienced and skilled legal representation. The consequences can be devastating without it. Determinations in divorce proceedings as to property settlement, alimony, child custody, visitation, and child support can easily go against you if you do not have competent legal counsel to protect your rights. The entire process can become very complex and frustrating without help. At Rallo Law Firm, our experienced family law attorneys will vigorously defend your rights and fight for your best interests in a divorce proceeding.
Grounds for Divorce
Prior to 1970, a married individual who wanted a divorce had to prove that their spouse committed a wrongful act during the marriage, such as adultery or abuse. However, the new law eliminated most grounds for divorce and created a new category for the modern divorce. In California, divorce or legal separation can be based on either of the following grounds:
Irreconcilable differences (which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage):
- Any spouse or domestic partner can have the marriage dissolved by claiming irreconcilable differences and does not have to prove fault of either party (i.e. no “bad deeds” have to be proven).
- The spouse seeking the divorce must prove with expert testimony that their spouse was incurably insane at the time of the marriage.
How Is A Divorce Obtained?
In California, a divorce is initiated when one person files a petition in the Superior Court for dissolution of marriage. The “petitioner” asks the court to dissolve the marriage and to decide issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, property and debt division, payment of attorney fees and court costs, etc. What happens next depends upon what the other party, the “respondent,” does. There are essentially three scenarios that can happen:
Default: If the respondent fails to answer the divorce petition in a timely manner, then the respondent defaults and does not participate in the proceedings (and therefore his or her interests are not represented).
Uncontested: If the petitioner and respondent work together to settle the issues between them then the divorce is uncontested. One type of uncontested divorce is called a “summary dissolution,” which does not require involvement by a judge or even a lawyer. However, there are certain requirements that must be met and not everyone can qualify for a summary dissolution. Some of these requirements include that spouses or domestic partners:
- Have been married or registered as domestic partners for less than 5 years
- Have no children together that were adopted or born before or during the marriage
- Have no interest in any real estate
- Do not owe more than $4,000 in debts acquired since the date of marriage
- Have less than $32,000 worth of property acquired since the date of marriage
- Do not have separate property worth more than $32,000
- Agree that neither party will ever get spousal support
- Have signed an agreement that divides all property and debts.
Contested: a divorce case becomes contested when the respondent files an answer to the divorce petition and there is disagreement on the issues. In this case, a court must resolve the differences of the parties.
California Divorce Attorney
If you or your spouse (or registered domestic partner) is considering divorce, you need an experienced family law attorney to protect your interests. Rallo Law Firm, has a comprehensive divorce practice and our seasoned attorneys have significant experience in representing divorcing parties. We work hard to help you get fair decisions on support, custody, visitation, and property issues. If the divorce is contested, we will vigorously fight to protect your rights.