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California Divorce Law

The end of a marriage is often emotionally and financially stressful. In California, the divorce process is relatively long and fraught with financial hurdles and tests of patience. You will likely spend months swimming through paperwork and working closely with the person you're trying to distance yourself from to hammer together a mutually beneficial separation.

LawInfo's California Divorce Law articles can help relieve some of the stress of the process. You'll learn about the state's divorce prerequisites, how property is divided and many other divorce topics. Whether you need assistance in Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Diego, LawInfo can help connect you with a California divorce attorney.

California Alimony

When a couple divorces, one spouse may be put at an economic disadvantage after the separation. For instance, a disabled spouse who relied on the other's financial support due to their inability to work may experience hardship after a divorce. To reduce that hardship, one spouse may volunteer or be court ordered to pay alimony.

Also called spousal support, alimony can be paid in a lump sum or over time. Alimony that is paid over time is often paid until a specified condition is met, so there is no definitive answer to how long alimony must be paid. Sometimes, permanent alimony may be ordered—meaning that one spouse must pay the other alimony until the beneficiary (the "payee spouse") either dies or remarries.

California doesn't have a formula for calculating alimony payment amounts. Instead, the court considers a list of factors to assess the alimony amount and schedule. Among the factors are:

  • Each party's health and age.
  • The value of the assets each party possesses after the divorce.
  • How long the marriage lasted.
  • Each party's tax consequences following the divorce.

California Divorce Process

A divorce is not a quick process in California. State law requires a waiting period of no less than six months before your marriage can be dissolved. There's a chance that your divorce may take longer than six months depending on the complexity of the dissolution and each party's willingness to negotiate.

During the waiting period, you and your ex can complete the paperwork in anticipation of the court approving the divorce. A typical divorce process will involve the following steps:

  1. The couple may try to settle an agreement as to how the divorce will be handled, including the division of property and other terms. By making an agreement this way, they can avoid paying additional filing fees and attending court more often than necessary.
  2. If an agreement cannot be reached, the spouse who seeks a divorce (the "petitioner") completes and files the divorce petition with the court.
  3. The other spouse (the "respondent") is served copies of the petition.
  4. The respondent has 30 days to submit their response to the court. If no response is received, the court will make a ruling on the divorce. If they decide to respond, the respondent must submit the appropriate documents to the court.
  5. The petitioner receives copies of the response.
  6. Both parties exchange records of the property they own and their debts. They then negotiate the division of property and debts. If they cannot agree on the division, they must go to court where a decision will be made for them.
  7. The court approves and signs a final judgment once the terms of the divorce are finalized.

Speak to an Experienced Divorce Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified divorce lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local divorce attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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