Family Law Resource

Family Law Questions in California

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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California Divorce FAQs

What is the divorce process in California?

There are basic measures everyone must take to navigate the divorce process, irrespective of the fact that each and every divorce case or circumstance is unique.

  • Step 1: Making divorce filing preparations
  • Step 2: Divorce application
  • Step 3: Serving the divorce papers
  • Step 4: Responding to the divorce within 30 days upon being served
  • Step 5: Establishment of temporary orders while the divorce process is ongoing.
  • Step 6: Disclosure of finances through forms FL-140, FL-141, FL-142 (or FL-160), and FL-150.
  • Step 7: Discovery proceeding as a formal method of obtaining documents and information.
  • Step 8: Complete settlement to conclude all divorce-related matters. The case can be brought to trial if there is no resolution to the issues.
  • Step 9: Proposed Judgement sent to the court and back to you signifies the end of the divorce process.

My spouse wants a divorce but I do not. What can I do?

In the US, we have what is called “no-fault” divorces which means that if one spouse wants a divorce, they cannot be stopped from doing so. Unfortunately you cannot stop the divorce proceedings. You can try to ask your spouse for a cooling off period after which he or she can reconsider the divorce or you could have a friend or spiritual leader speak with your spouse. Either way you should meet with your own lawyer to make sure your legal rights are protected.

My ex-spouse has stopped paying alimony. What can I do?

We can help you! It can be a difficult situation financially and emotionally for you and your child and immediate legal action should be taken. Our attorneys will first speak with you, review the final judgement that was made during your divorce or child custody dispute and then advise you on your legal options. Once we have the facts, we can guide you through the process and represent you as your family attorney. You are not alone; call us today.

My ex and I have shared custody of our teenage daughter and she wants to live with him full time.

Children, especially during their teenage years, can cause issues to the decision that was made legally regarding their custody. Often times, unless someone files for a petition for modification of the child custody agreement, no legal action is needed. We can recommend some different steps you and/or your ex-spouse could take to ensure a continuation of the agreement. In such delicate situations, we highly recommend you meet or speak with us so that you can understand the legal implications of your teenager’s decision.

My spouse served me with a divorce petition. How do I respond to divorce papers?

In California, you have 30 days to submit a court-approved response for receiving the divorce papers. You have the chance to voice any objections they may have to the requested divorce and suggest different terms at this time.

Additionally, you must provide information and specifics regarding your separate and shared property. The disclosure of this information is critical during the discussion of asset and debt distribution.

Legally, not responding is a response to the divorce papers. Although, not responding may have repercussions. The divorce will ultimately be categorized based on how you respond to the divorce papers.

What happens if my spouse ignores the divorce papers I served?

When you serve divorce papers and your spouse chooses to ignore them, they forfeit their right to contest child custody, child support, or property distribution in court.

Can one divorce lawyer represent both spouses?

One attorney cannot counsel both spouses in a divorce in California. It is unethical for attorneys to represent two individuals in a legal dispute.

How is property distributed during a divorce in California?

Marital assets must be shared equally under California’s community property laws. During mediation, spouses must negotiate who will acquire specific assets, or a judge can determine how assets will be distributed.

How can I tell whether my California divorce is final or not?

You will receive a certificate of written judgment from the court signed by the judge, proving that your divorce is finalized.

Do I require legal counsel in California for an uncontested divorce?

In theory, if you and your spouse petition for an uncontested divorce, you do not need a divorce lawyer. However, arrangements must be made in writing, and a divorce lawyer will ensure that your agreement is drafted correctly.

Do I need legal counsel for California divorce mediation?

Many spouses bring a divorce attorney to mediation to defend their rights. Lawyers can serve as mediators, and divorce mediation has some benefits.

Can my partner demand payment for their divorce lawyer?

Unless a judge directs you to, your spouse cannot make you pay their legal bills for the divorce. A judge may, in some circumstances, demand that one spouse foot all or part of the other spouse’s legal costs.

What happens during the lawyer negotiations in a divorce in California?

Your attorney and your spouse’s attorney can negotiate conditions on your behalf and of your spouse in out-of-court divorce settlements like mediation or arbitration, whether or not you are present.

How long does it take to get a divorce in California?

All divorces in California are processed within at least six months of the filing date. However, divorces cannot be finalized in less time than six months. They can take longer.

Child Custody and Child Support FAQs

Who is eligible for child custody?

Depending on the situation, only specific people may file a petition for child custody:

  • Parents are typically the first option.
  • If certain conditions are met, grandparents in the state of California may apply for custody or visitation.
  • Any person who has been in the position of a parent for a given time and who the court judges appropriate in light of the specific circumstances. It could be a stepparent or another relative.

What guidelines apply when a parent with joint custody relocates?

California courts agree that the bond between a parent and their child might be severely strained by relocation. A member may occasionally have to relocate owing to professional reasons, a change in living environment, or new prospects. Nevertheless, parents who share physical custody are required to follow the terms of their custody agreement.

Can I get sole custody of my child?

That depends on the circumstances. One parent’s custody rights might be terminated if it is determined that they pose a severe risk to the child’s health and well-being. It might be necessary to present proof such as possible criminal convictions or instances of child sexual, emotional, or physical abuse. Even then, the court has the discretion to provide visitation or supervised visits before entirely removing the other parent’s parental rights.

What are our choices if we can’t agree on a custody plan?

Unfortunately, the courts will decide for you if you and your ex-spouse cannot reach an understanding that benefits both of you. You might engage with a mediator to assist you in coming up with a strategy that helps all parties concerned. Almost always, it is best to resolve the various details among each other. Get in touch with an experienced Santa Rosa child custody attorney to ensure your rights are upheld during the procedure.

Will my child custody be affected if I get a new partner?

No, not always. California courts frequently do not consider your relationship status when deciding custody. The court may, however, modify your custody rights if it determines that you are not adequately protecting your child if your new partner is accused of abusing children. Alternately, your ex-spouse may have a case to adjust custody rights if your connection with your new partner affects your parenting time with your child.

Does child custody affect child support?

Child support and child custody are related even though they are two separate court decisions because the length of time you can spend with your child will affect the amount of child support you must pay.

You are never permitted to deny the other parent custody or visitation rights just because they are not fulfilling their legal obligations to pay child support because these are two separate court rulings. Additionally, if the other parent won’t let you see your child, you cannot stop paying child support.

What should I do if the other parent disobeys the child custody ruling?

If the other parent refuses to abide by the child custody and visitation agreement, you have two options. You can ask the local police to enforce the order by contacting them.

The second option is for you to submit a “contempt” suit before the court. If the other parent wilfully ignores the court order, you can prove it to the judge in a contempt case and ask the court to enforce the ruling.

Call our Experienced Sonoma County, CA family lawyers today!

Can’t find answers to your questions? Make sure to call our reliable family lawyers in Sonoma County today to receive legal advice to your family law case. Whether you are going through a divorce, fighting for child custody, or need modifications or enforcement to child support, our family lawyers are here and ready to provide you with legal assistance. Call us today!

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