Divorce is the legal remedy sought to terminate one’s marriage. In California, all divorces are considered “no fault” divorces. This means that either spouse can seek a divorce without requiring that spouse to prove the other party did something wrong. What this means, is that since neither party is at fault, neither party is treated more harshly than the other for their alleged conduct that led to the end of the marriage. What took place within the marriage is irrelevant to the divorce. Because California is a no-fault jurisdiction, if one party wants the divorce and the other does not, there is little the responding party can do about it.

Divorce terminates the martial or partner status of the parties, thus restoring them legally to the single individuals they were prior to the marriage. In order to restore the individuals to this status, the court must determine answers to issues of child custody and visitation, child support, partner support, property division, debt allocation, and attorney fees. In limited cases, the court may also consider awarding child support for adult children, depending on the situation.

No divorce should be treated in a one-size fits all approach. There are many options to consider such as mediation, arbitration, and litigation.

  1. Mediation is the most cost effective and least intrusive method of legal separation. It involves the two parties negotiating through the assistance of a trained mediator.
  2. Arbitration is the middle of the road between mediation and litigation. It incorporates the interpersonal communication between parties as in mediation, as well as the constraints of the litigation process.
  3. Litigation is taking your case all the way to courtroom. Often, tension and emotions prevent parties from reaching a mutually agreeable decision on their own and need a judge to decide for them.

In addition to custody and support concerns, the court must also decide how to divide the property amongst the parties. In California, divisible property falls into three categories.

  1. Community Property. Community property is all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while living in the state of California.

    a. Examples of community property: any income earned by either spouse during the span of the marriage. Any real or personal property purchased or acquired during the marriage, including houses, vehicles, and luxury items. Also, any debt acquired by either party during the marriage.

  2. Quasi-community Property. Quasi-community property is all real or personal property, wherever situation, acquired in one of two ways. First, any property acquired by either spouse while living in a state other than California, which would be considered community property if the spouse who acquired the property had bee living in the state of California at the time it was acquired. Also, any real or personal property, wherever situated, which would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the exchanged property had lived in the state of California at the time it was acquired.

    a. Examples of quasi-community property could potentially include property purchased during the marriage in states outside of California.

  3. Separate Property. Separate property of a married person includes all property owned by the person before marriage and all property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent.

    a. Examples of separate property: any property owned by a spouse prior to marriage. Any property that was obtained by a spouse after a legal separation proceeding. Any gift or inheritance from a third party. Also includes any debts incurred before the marriage.

All divorce situations are different and deserve to be treated as such. Please contact our office to discuss your specific circumstances.

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