U.S. News reports that the state of California was among the 10 states with the lowest divorce rate in 2019. Of course, statistics hardly matter when a divorce happens, especially when that divorce is yours. Divorce is virtually always hard, even when both parties are in agreement that the marriage is over, because, let’s face it, no one ever plans on getting divorced. When you commit yourself “for life” to someone else then find yourself saying the word “divorce,” it can be difficult to wrap your mind around. That’s why our divorce lawyers are here to help.
Most divorced people say that while life after divorce can certainly be sad, stressful, exhausting, scary, and lonely, it can also be exciting, invigorating, and freeing, containing plenty of peaceful, contented moments. If the word “divorce” has become a reality in your life, don’t you want an advocate in your corner—someone who truly cares about the outcome and will work hard to make sure you will be okay when the dust settles?
The divorce lawyers Vanegas Law Group want to be the fierce advocate you need—and deserve—during your Walnut Creek divorce. We understand that family law issues like divorce can create chaos in your life. Guiding you through that chaos – while minimizing the emotional and financial impact – is our highest purpose as divorce lawyers. At Vanegas Law Group, we believe we can make a positive difference in the outcome of your divorce.
Legal Definition of Divorce and California Divorce Law
A divorce—or “dissolution of marriage”—is the legal termination of a marital relationship. Each state has its own laws pertaining to divorce. Residency requirements in California include: one spouse must have lived in the state for the past six months, and the county where the divorce will be filed for the last three months. California, unlike many other states, may order a 30-day stay of dissolution of marriage proceedings if it appears there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation—although this is rare.
A California divorce could be contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce is when both parties essentially agree on all aspects of the divorce, while a contested divorce means there is little to no agreement. Many divorces that start out as uncontested can quickly become not only contested, but hotly contested. When a divorce is contested, your divorce lawyer will negotiate issues with your spouse’s lawyer. If no agreements can be made, your divorce will go to court and a judge will decide these issues.
Every divorcing couple wants to know how long the divorce will take. Understandable, since once the tough decision is made, most people want to put the divorce behind them and move forward with their life. The entire process will take at least six months from the date when the person who files officially lets his or her spouse or domestic partner know about the divorce. It can take more than six months, but not less since this is a mandatory waiting period required under California law.
Is California a No-Fault Divorce State?
Not only is California a no-fault state, but it was the first state (in 1970) to utilize the concept of no-fault divorce. In short, this meant that rather than one spouse having to convince the judge that the other spouse had committed a terrible offense, thus providing an “acceptable” reason (known as “grounds”) for the divorce, no reason was required. Once no-fault divorce in California was implemented, other states followed. Today you can file for a no-fault divorce in every state (although some states do still allow divorces based on specific grounds). When you file for divorce, you must only state your marriage is irretrievably broken due to irreconcilable differences.
“Good to Know” Facts Regarding a California Divorce
Some states have their own quirky divorce laws, while other facts, if known, could have saved divorcing spouses a world of trouble. Here are two:
- Common-law marriages are not recognized in the state of California. While some states recognize a couple that has lived together for a certain period of time as being married (common-law marriage), California does not. Cohabiting couples do not receive the same benefits as married couples. Community property laws do not apply when distributing assets and there are, generally speaking, no issues regarding child custody, as the mother automatically gains custody.
- Stay away from social media before and during your divorce. According to an issue of the National Law Review, one-third of all legal action in divorce cases are precipitated by an online affair. Sixty-six percent of all divorce cases use Facebook as a principal source of evidence, and eighty-one percent of divorce lawyers present social networking evidence in court.
When Dividing Assets, is California a Community Property or Equitable Distribution State?
Along with a handful of other states, California is a community property state. This means when it’s time to divide assets during a divorce, those assets are split equally, regardless of who earned the money or who purchased the asset. Most states operate under the equitable distribution rule, meaning marital assets are divided fairly, although not necessarily 50/50. Community property laws can be comforting to a non-earning or lesser-earning spouse.
However, when one spouse earns significantly more, or when one spouse is the “saver” in the relationship and the other is a “spendthrift,” community property laws may not seem all that fair. Debts in a community property state (acquired during the marriage, and not including student loans) are also split equally. Assets owned prior to the marriage are not considered marital assets so long as they were not commingled with marital assets. Your Vanegas Law Group divorce lawyer can help you determine how your marital assets will be split in a way that is fair to you.
The Most Contentious Divorce Issues—Child Custody and Spousal Support
California law considers only the best interests of the child when awarding child custody. Legal custody pertains to which parent is granted the right—and responsibility—to make decisions regarding the child’s education, religion, health, and welfare. Physical custody addresses which parent a child physically resides with.
Joint custody refers to parents who share custody (the children live with both parents), while sole custody places the bulk of parental responsibilities on one parent. Parents could have joint legal custody and joint physical custody, sole legal custody and sole physical custody (with visitation rights to the other parent), or joint legal custody and sole physical custody (or vice-versa).
The court will consider the age and health of the child, the emotional ties between the child and each parent, as well as ties to home, school, and community, the ability of each parent to care for the child, and any parental history of family violence or substance abuse.
As far as spousal support, many spouses believe they are entitled to this support, while few spouses feel good about paying spousal support. Many family law attorneys and judges use software that will generate a spousal support figure based on incomes, health insurance deductions, and other earnings-related considerations. A judge will consider additional issues such as:
- The length of the marriage
- The marketable skills of the supported spouse and how long it would take that spouse to develop additional job skills
- The age and health of each spouse
- Whether the supported spouse’s earning capacity is hindered by devoting time to domestic duties
- Whether the supported spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education, training, career, or license
- The paying spouse’s ability to pay
- The financial needs of each spouse based on the marital standard of living
- Each spouse’s debts and obligations
- Whether the supported spouse has dependent children in his or her custody
Permanent alimony is rarely permanent, rather is “long-term.” Long-term spousal support is meant to keep the supported spouse at or near the marital standard of living after the divorce.
Choose Our Divorce Lawyers For Your Walnut Creek Divorce
When you choose Vanegas Law Group for your divorce, you will have divorce lawyers on your side who are personable, relatable, candid, and warm. From a legal standpoint, we are experienced, highly skilled, and knowledgeable regarding California divorce laws.
We are courageous on your behalf and have a keen sense of justice in all matters. While we are skilled negotiators—and will use these skills to secure an equitable divorce for you—we are also aggressive litigators when necessary.
At Vanegas Law Group, we understand the many nuances of divorce, particularly your emotional and financial status. We will communicate with you to ensure we are all on the same page, then move forward with the goal of helping you start your new life in the best way possible. Contact Vanegas Law Group today for help with your Walnut Creek, CA divorce.