What Are the Main Elements of a California Divorce?
Divorce is always challenging, but it is also often more complex than many realize as they begin their dissolution proceedings. Regardless of the reason for your divorce or the apparent complexity of the issues you believe you face, it’s vital to have legal representation as you navigate your divorce so you are prepared to meet the various challenges your case presents. While every divorce is unique, there are a few foundational elements that all divorces must cover.
As you search for a California family law attorney to represent you, it’s vital to evaluate the core issues of your divorce. At Bickford Blado & Botros, we provide our prospective clients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their family law cases. The following are the core elements of most modern divorces in California.
California is one of nine US states to use a community property rule for dividing marital assets and debts in divorce. While many believe this law to be overly strict compared to the equitable distribution standard used by most other states, the final result is that each spouse receives exactly half of their marital property and half of the total responsibility for marital debts.
California law enables a divorcing spouse to retain sole ownership over their separate property. This type of property includes things they owned before marriage, gifts they received during the marriage, and inheritance from blood relatives. In some cases, separate property may transmute to community property if the other spouse’s efforts improved the property’s value. Community property can include income spouses earn during their marriage and all property purchased using marital assets.
When divorcing spouses have children, resolving the allocation of parental rights and parenting time is likely to be one of the most contentious aspects of their divorce. Unlike other issues like property division and spousal support, child custody cannot be resolved privately. Regardless of how agreeable the divorcing parents are toward one another, a family court judge must have the final say regarding child custody. The judge must rule in favor of whatever custody arrangement they deem most suitable for the child’s best interests.
The court must decide on legal custody, or the ability to make decisions on a child’s behalf, and physical custody, which pertains to the child’s residency and where they spend their time. Courts typically prefer joint custody agreements that give a child equal access to both parents. However, a judge is only likely to consider this arrangement if they deem both parents fit and safe. As part of their ruling, the judge must also resolve child support, assigning a payment obligation to one of the child’s parents that they must fulfill or face severe penalties.
The community property law of California aims to offer the fairest possible resolution to divorce. However, one spouse may have been financially dependent on the other for many years. They may have also contributed to the other spouse’s successful career at their own cost. Spousal support can come into play if a judge decides that one spouse needs ongoing financial support to maintain a lifestyle similar to what they had while married.
In some California divorce cases, a standardized formula is used to calculate appropriate alimony. The base formula is half the lower-earning spouse’s monthly income subtracted from 40% of the higher-paid spouse’s income. As an example, if one spouse earns $10,000 each month, 40% of this is $4,000. If, for example, the lower-earning spouse earns $1,500 per month, half of this is $750. Using the standardized formula, $750 is subtracted from $4,000 for a support payment of $3,250 per month. However, this is just an example, and many other factors are likely to come into play in any alimony determination in a California divorce.
Unique Details Your Case Could Entail
Property division and child custody are likely the main focal points of any divorce in California. If the couple does not have children, resolving property division may form the bulk of their proceedings. Your divorce attorney can provide detailed insights into the issues you will need to resolve to complete your divorce.
Your divorce can touch on aspects of criminal law. For example, if your spouse committed any type of domestic violence, this could influence your case proceedings in multiple ways. They could lose any claim to child custody they may have had and face fines, jail time, and other penalties. Part of your family law case may involve securing a restraining order against your ex, preventing them from contacting you or coming near you for the foreseeable future.
Ultimately, your case is likely to contain many unique variables. Therefore, the best approach to any difficult divorce is to consult an experienced attorney as soon as you have decided to press forward with your dissolution proceedings.
What to Expect From a Divorce Attorney
The right attorney can help you in many ways during a divorce case. First, you can rely on them for consistent updates about your case’s progress. They will handle all the procedural aspects of your case and prepare you for all the active components of your participation in it. This gives you more time and flexibility to focus on your career and household as your case unfolds.
The attorneys at Bickford Blado & Botros take a client-focused approach to divorce representation. We know your case is unique, and you face distinct challenges on your path to resolving your divorce. Therefore, we will get to know you and learn the details of your situation to provide the most robust legal counsel we can.
A good divorce attorney is an invaluable asset for addressing the foundational elements of any divorce and the unique challenges you face in yours. The attorneys at Bickford Blado & Botros have extensive professional experience representing California clients in difficult family law cases, and we can apply this experience to your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about our legal services.
Feel Free to Contact Our Office with Any Questions