A Divorce is the legal process required to end a marriage or domestic partnership. It is an actual lawsuit. Unlike other types of legal actions, no one needs to have done anything wrong in order to file. California is a “no-fault” state. All a spouse has to allege is that the couple cannot get along. Legally, this is called “irreconcilable differences.” There is no requirement that these differences be proven. Any spouse can decide to file a divorce even if the other spouse does not want to get one. The only thing the family court is interested in is helping spouses reach a fair agreement concerning all of the issues in their case. These issues can include child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support, restraining orders, the division of property, and attorney’s fees. For a thorough explanation of each of these issues, please review our articles on each of these topics on this website.
The family court encourages parties to resolve their cases by agreement and gives those cases priority on its calendar. Couples who can amicably resolve their cases do not even have to appear in court to get a Divorce. The court will allow them to agree to almost anything as long as the formalities imposed by the law are met. These include the preparation and service of preliminary and final disclosure, joinder of all retirement plans to the case, the filing of all required forms, and notarization of required signatures, to name a few. Reaching an agreement is also the best way to reduce attorneys fees and stress on the family. Unfortunately, the emotions in divorce often make it very difficult for spouses to reach agreements. Divorce is a complex area of law and can take an extended period of time to resolve if the parties are either unable or unwilling to reach agreements. In such cases, the court will be the one to make the final decision. When this occurs, the parties will be forced to pay a substantial amount of attorney’s fees and costs to have a trial. In addition, a judge will not necessarily decide the case the way either party wants and may just pick a solution neither party likes or could have anticipated.
Divorce is one of three lawsuits that are utilized to terminate marital relationships. The other two are legal separation and annulment. California courts have very limited resources and the completion of a marital action can take a very significant amount of time and money. Alternatives to litigation include private judging, mediation, and collaborative law. These non-litigation alternatives can result in a substantial cost and time savings and should always be considered. After the divorce is completed, the parties will be single again and can each remarry should they choose to do so. However, they will each still be required to abide by any obligations imposed upon by the Family Court, e.g., pay support. Failure to meet an obligation to pay support will trigger a plethora of legal enforcement remedies available to the party entitled to receive support, including, but not limited to, contempt proceedings, wage assignment, and seizures of property.