Family Law FAQ

1. How long is divorce process?

Each case is different. Generally, there is a waiting period of a minimum of six months from the date of service of the Petition to Dissolution (when your spouse is legally notified). However, it can take much longer depending on the cooperation between the parties and the complexity of the case.  Such complexities include whether it becomes contested and disputes involving custody, property, support, pension, etc. Overall, it depends upon the circumstances of the parties, the nature and extent of the issues involved, amount and duration of child and spousal support, complexity of property issues, property characterization and valuation, property division and the level of conflict between the parties.

2. What is an uncontested divorce?

This is a divorce where both parties are able to make a mutually agreed upon arrangement regarding the terms.

3. What are the grounds for divorce?

California is a “no‐fault” divorce state and so California law does not determine fault. A no‐fault divorce is one in which neither the husband nor wife officially blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage. Generally, marriages are dissolved based on irreconcilable differences.

4. What is a divorce agreement?

This is an agreement entered into between the spouses that specifically outlines the terms of the divorce and the relationship between the two spouses after the divorce. The agreement usually covers property division, child custody and visitation, debt division, spousal support, etc.

5. What is a legal separation?

A legal separation is a Court order arranging the terms under which a married couple will live separately. The marriage is not completely dissolved. You may not want a divorce due to religious, insurance, tax or other reasons. With a legal separation, you remain married, but the Court issue orders related to property division, child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, etc. A legal separation requires a mutual agreement.

6. What is an annulment?

An annulment is the legal dissolution of the marriage whereby the marriage is treated as though it never existed.

7. What is a mediation?

A mediation is a non‐adversarial process in which a neutral third party acts to encourage and help disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

8. How is property divided?

Generally, all property acquired during the marriage (community property) is divided equally between the parties. However, there are exceptions depending on the circumstances.

9. Do I have a right to any of my spouse’s retirement after the divorce?

Generally, if your spouse earned a portion of the retirement during the marriage, you will be entitled to your community share.

10. What happens to children following divorce or separation?

The parents can reach an agreement on how they will share their children’s time. A parenting plan can become a Court order whereby the judge approves the plan agreed upon by both parents.

If the parents are unable to agree on custody or visitation, a judge will make the decision.

11. What is joint custody?

Joint custody has two parts: joint legal custody and joint physical custody.

Joint legal custody refers to both parents sharing the major decisions affecting the child, such as school, health care, and religious training.

Joint physical custody refers to the time spent with each parent. The amount of time is flexible, and can range from a moderate period of time for one parent, such as every other weekend, to a child dividing the time equally between the two parents’ homes.

12. What is supervised visitation?

This is a form of visitation in which an adult supervisor must be present when the child is visiting with the non‐custodial parent.

13. What is child support?

Child support is the amount of money under a Court of administrative order that is due and owed by the non‐custodial parent for the support of the parent’s child(ren). Child support amounts are generally determined by statewide guidelines. Guideline support takes into account the incomes of each parent and the percentage of time that the parents spend with the children.

14. How long do I have to pay child support?

Whichever comes first: the child reaches the age of 19, or has attained age 18 and either is not a full time student or is self‐supporting, the child dies, or the child enters into a valid marriage, or becomes emancipated.

15. What is spousal support?

This is also known as alimony. Spousal support is the money one spouse pays to help support the other after the dissolution of the marriage. Many factors are taken into consideration in determining the amount of support, such as the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, earning capacity and job histories of both individuals, etc.

Disclaimer: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.