Long Beach Divorce Lawyer
Deciding to end your marriage is never easy, but it is sometimes unavoidable. Once this decision has been made by you or your spouse, you need to take steps to protect your assets and, if you have children under 18 years of age, limit the impact on them. Below is some basic information about the divorce process in California.
Making the Right Choice
The decision to file for divorce should not be made lightly. Although it is not impossible to stop the process once it has begun, your spouse may decide to continue the divorce even if you have a change of heart. Thus, it is important to consider your options carefully before you move forward with filing for divorce.
Filing for Divorce
Once you have decided that filing for divorce is the best option, you must file paperwork to begin the process. To initiate the divorce, you must file a few forms at your local courthouse, including the Petition and the Summons. The exact forms required may vary by courthouse, but each courthouse will have a packet of family law forms available for individuals who intend to begin divorce proceedings. At this time, you must also pay a filing fee, although some people may qualify to have their fees waived. After you have filed for divorce, your spouse must be served with papers.
California law requires both you and your spouse to formally disclose your assets, debts, income and expenses at the beginning of the divorce process. Once all of this information has been exchanged, you can begin working toward a settlement.
Understanding California’s Community Property Laws
California is one of nine community property states in the U.S. This means that the court assumes that all marital property is owned equally by both spouses and must also be divided equally. Certain assets may be identified as separate property, including assets you owned before you got married or even assets you inherited during marriage. These rules may also be altered by any prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements you and your spouse signed.
Settling Your Case
Before your divorce case can be closed, you must either reach a settlement with your spouse on several issues, including the division of assets you own and debts you owe, or have the court determine these issues. If you have children at home, you must also agree to a satisfactory custody and child support arrangement. In general, it is best to reach an agreement with your spouse outside of court. Not only will this prevent a lengthy court battle, but it will also save you money. However, if no such agreement is possible, the court will settle these issues for you. An attorney can help you make sure the court reaches a fair result, or the agreement you reach with your spouse is fair to you. Once all issues have been settled, the court will formally dissolve your marriage.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you are involved in a California divorce case, consulting an experienced attorney is highly recommended. Court procedures and the laws regarding property and debt division can be complicated, especially if you have significant assets or if you have a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement. Divorce cases also become more complicated when minor children are involved. If any of these factors are complicating your case, hiring an attorney is essential.
Deccan Law can assist you with your divorce from start to finish. We have experience with both summary dissolution and martial dissolution, as well as spousal support, child custody, division of assets and division of liabilities. If you are contemplating divorce, or if you are already involved in divorce proceedings, call me today to make an appointment. We have 2 Southern California offices, one in Long Beach and Artesia.