A divorce in California is referred to in the Family Code as “dissolution of marriage.” The concept is the same, as is the form to file to start the proceeding. Where you live and how long you have lived there will matter when determining whether you are eligible to file for divorce. When petitioning for dissolution of marriage, the party filing needs to meet the residency requirements, six months in the State and three months in the County, at the time the action is filed, in order for the court to have jurisdiction to address your matter.
The petition includes the option to include claims to certain property, as well requests for custody of minor children, spousal support and attorney fees. Once the petition is filed, it must be served on the other spouse, the Respondent. Once served, the Respondent will have 30 days to file a response to the petition. The parties are required to disclose all real and personal property, and all debt, to one another after filing a petition or response. Declarations of disclosure will be exchanged but they are not filed with the court.
Some parties may qualify to use a summary dissolution of marriage procedure depending on the parties’ assets, debts, and whether there are children of the marriage.
A standard dissolution procedure is the most common and will be utilized when a matter includes issues of child custody, visitation and child support; spousal support; issues related to real property or business interests; and issues of retirement, deferred compensation, stock options and restricted stock units, and more. These are literally only a few of the many potential issues that may be addressed in a Family Law case.
Regardless of whether your case is simple or complex, dissolution will not be granted until at least six months after the Respondent is served.
Some clients may prefer a Legal Separation proceeding if the parties want to end the marriage, but for personal reasons, religious reasons or health reasons, are choosing not to divorce. The parties will no longer be acquiring assets and debts as a community, but they are not permitted to marry another person because with a judgment of legal separation, the parties remain married to each other.
When a marriage is void or voidable, a party may petition for nullity of marriage. A judgment of nullity will return the parties to single status. Rights to property and support in a nullity proceeding will depend on whether there is a good faith belief that the marriage was valid.
Contact Ms. Rizzo to discuss your dissolution, separation or nullity matter.