Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Divorce Laws
Q. I want a divorce. What should I do?
A. A. To file for divorce in California, you must have lived in the state for a minimum of six months. If you satisfy this requirement, you may file for divorce as long as there are irreconcilable differences that have irretrievably broken your marriage.
The most important thing to do is consult with an experienced Fresno divorce law attorney. We can analyze your case, file the paperwork on your behalf, ensure you are complying with all deadlines, and aggressively protect your interests throughout the proceedings.
Q. How long will the divorce take?
A. California imposes a waiting period of six months from the time divorce papers are initially served before the divorce can be finalized. If you and your spouse can agree on all of the terms in the divorce, it can be finalized as soon as the waiting period ends. However, if court intervention is necessary and some or all issues need to be decided through litigation, the proceedings can take significantly longer. Ultimately, the quicker you and your spouse can come to an agreement, the less time your divorce will take.
Q. How much will it cost to get a divorce?
A. The cost of legal representation in a family law matter depends heavily on the particulars of your situation. If the divorce is uncontested, or if we are able to help you quickly reach an amicable settlement, the fees will be lower than if there are significant disputes and lengthy litigation becomes necessary. In some cases, the court may order one of the spouses to pay some or all of the other spouse's fees. This can happen in cases of financial need or, more rarely, in situations where one spouse has violated a court order or acted in bad faith.
Q. How is our property and debt divided in California?
A.California is a community property state, meaning that all property acquired during a marriage (except gifts and inheritance) is considered community property, which the courts typically split equally between the spouses. Each spouse keeps all of his or her separate property acquired prior to the marriage and acquired after separation. For many families, debt division is just as important as asset division. Debts, like assets, are covered under the community property laws. An experienced family law attorney understands the laws concerning property division in a divorce and can help you protect your assets and interests.
Q. How is child custody determined?
A. In determining child custody, the overriding factor that the court considers is what is in the child's best interests. The court will also consider whether one parent would be more likely than the other to allow "frequent and continuing" contact with the noncustodial parent. In California, there is no preference for giving custody to one parent over the other simply based on gender. For more information about this topic, please see our child custody and support page.
Q. Will I have to pay spousal support? If so, how much?
A. Under California's spousal support statute, an individual has a duty to support his or her spouse financially. As a result, depending on the situation and financial circumstances of each party, in a divorce, one spouse may be ordered to pay the other spousal support.
If you are ordered to pay spousal support, the court will use a variety of factors to determine the amount of this support. These factors include you and your spouse’s respective incomes and earning capacities, how long you were married, you and your spouse's age and health, and how much each of you contributed to the other's marketable skills.
Q. My ex got remarried, and her new husband wants to adopt my child. My ex has full custody. Can I prevent the adoption?
A. Even if your ex-spouse has sole custody, that does not mean that your parental rights have been terminated. An adoption of your child cannot occur without your consent, unless you have abandoned the child for over a year and have not paid any child support or seen or talked to the child during that time. Before the adoption can take place without your consent, you have a right to a hearing before the judge.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
If you are contemplating a divorce or other family law proceeding, consult a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney before taking action to be sure that your rights are protected. Attorney Jennifer Morrison has focused exclusively on divorce law matters in Fresno since she opened her practice in 1999. To speak with a qualified divorce law firm in Fresno that is responsive and compassionate to your needs, contact the Law Offices of Jennifer S. Morrison, A Professional Corporation, today.