Ending a California marriage requires compliance with laws and procedures. Understanding the divorce process in this state and having qualified legal representation can help protect a spouse's financial interests.
One of the two spouses must file in the superior court where they have legal residence and serve the other spouse with legal documents. There is a six-month waiting period for a divorce to become finalized after it is filed which delays purchasing and other transactions.
Under certain circumstances, spouses can seek a summary dissolution which is the least complicated process. The couple must meet several requirements to qualify.
They must be married for less than five years, cannot own any land or buildings and may not rent any land or buildings except for their current residence and have no children that were born, conceived or adopted during their marriage. The couple cannot have more than $41,000 of property acquired during their marriage except for cars and each spouse must own less than $41,000 in separate property including property owned before marriage, received as a gift or inheritance or acquired after separation. Also, they must have less than $46,000 in debts, except for car loans, accrued since their marriage and agree that there will be no spousal support.
For property division, California is a community property state. Any property or assets earned or obtained by a spouse during their marriage is community property owned by the couple that must be divided during divorce. Any debt incurred by a spouse is also community property.
Any assets or property that was owned by a spouse before marriage or an inheritance or gift received during marriage is owned by the spouse. Purchases made with separate property is also owned by the spouse who made that purchase.
Divorce becomes even more complex when the couple has children. Issues regarding child custody and support may cause disputes.
An attorney can help a spouse meet California's requirements and negotiate a fair and reasonable decree. When necessary, lawyers may protect rights in mediation and in court.