Types of Divorce in California
Divorce is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. California offers several different legal rules and proceedings depending upon the nature of your family, your relationship, and your goals for divorce. Learn about the various types of divorce below and contact our California family law attorneys today for a consultation about your case.
Historically, married persons seeking to divorce needed to assert some “fault” basis for the divorce. They needed to allege, and prove, that their spouse did something wrong, such as by showing their spouse committed adultery, abuse, abandonment, or some other wrongful act. In the 21st century, fault-based divorce has all but disappeared.
California is a pure no-fault divorce state. That means not only that fault is not required for divorce; California courts will not even entertain fault-based allegations as a basis for divorce. If you are filing for divorce in California, your only options for the legal grounds for the divorce are “irreconcilable differences,” meaning an irreparable breakdown of the marriage, or permanent legal incapacity to make decisions, meaning a doctor has determined your spouse is unable to make their own decisions because of injury, illness, or disorder.
In practice, “irreconcilable differences” means anyone who files can obtain a divorce without needing the approval of their spouse or proof of any wrongdoing. If you cite irreconcilable differences as your grounds for divorce, the court will not ask anything further about the basis for divorce.
An uncontested divorce refers to a divorce proceeding in which the parties agree on everything pertinent to the divorce. The parties have discussed and reached a mutual agreement about all divorce-related issues, including division of property, child support, child custody, visitation, spousal support, and any other matters. The parties file a divorce settlement agreement as soon as they file for divorce, which covers all issues relevant to their divorce.
Uncontested divorces tend to be much faster, cheaper, and easier than a full, contested divorce. The parties can usually skip most of the court proceedings and get right to a final order. Even if you and your spouse appear to agree on everything, however, it’s important to discuss your divorce with a seasoned California family law attorney to ensure you’ve fully covered all matters and that your rights are protected.
A contested divorce, on the other hand, is a divorce in which the parties disagree on one or more matters. Contested divorce is what most people picture when they think of divorce–opposing parties, represented by counsel, arguing for what they want over the settlement table or in court. Contested divorces take more time, money, and energy to resolve. Contested divorces continue until the parties can reach a final, comprehensive resolution. If there are issues the parties simply cannot decide upon on their own, they may proceed all the way to trial, where a judge will decide for them.
Simplified Divorce/Summary Dissolution
California allows for a special, fast-tracked divorce process for certain married couples. The parties can skip virtually all court proceedings and obtain a quick, easy divorce order. To qualify for summary dissolution, the married couple must satisfy certain requirements, including the following:
● The parties have no shared minor children
● The parties agree on all divorce-related issues
● The marriage lasted fewer than five years
● The parties do not jointly own any real property
● The parties agree that neither will receive spousal support
● The parties have less than $6,000 in shared debt and less than $45,000 in shared assets, excluding cars
● The parties each have less than $45,000 in separate property
Legal Separation/Limited Divorce
California is one of several states that allows for legal separation. A legal separation is not technically a divorce; the parties will remain legally married. The parties can, however, obtain an order from the court addressing various matters, such as child custody, support, and division of property. The parties can live separate and apart, with certain legal rights guaranteed by the protection of a court order, while still maintaining the benefits of marriage (health insurance, joint tax filing, inheritance, etc.). Legal separation can be optimal if the parties are not certain they actually want a full divorce, or if there are legal rights afforded by marriage that they wish to retain while separated.
Help With Divorce and Other Family Matters in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley
Whether your divorce is simple or complex, contested or uncontested, amicable or fraught, the family law attorneys at Blasser Law have the knowledge, talent and dedication to deliver the right advice and representation appropriate to your case. For help with a divorce or other family law matters in Los Angeles or the San Gabriel Valley, call Blasser Law in Claremont at 877-927-2181.