Overview of Divorce in California

The following is an overview of divorce in California. Divorce in California may be filed either because of irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity, with property divided evenly and spouse and child support determined primarily by proportional income.

Residency and Filing Requirements

To file for dissolution of marriage in California, one of the parties must have resided in the state for six months. Also, they must reside in the county where they file for three months prior to filing their petition. The husband and wife don't necessarily have to be living together. The best way to begin the filing process, and ensure the least complicated outcome, is to consult with a divorce lawyer.

Grounds for Filing

The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must declare one or more of the following as grounds for filing: irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity.

Incurable insanity must be proved through competent medical or psychiatric testimony. It must also prove that the spouse was insane at the time of filing. Incurable insanity does not relieve a spouse from any legal obligation to support the incurably insane spouse, and the court may order support.

Property Distribution

California is a "Community Property" state. Everything acquired during the marriage is considered Community Property and will be divided equally by the court (50-50) if the parties are not able to agree on another arrangement.

Debts incurred by either spouse after the date of separation but before dissolution of marriage or legal separation shall not be shared unless they were incurred for necessities of life for the spouse or children.

Spousal Support

Any obligation of one spouse to support the other financially, temporarily or permanently, is decided on a case-by-case basis. It can be agreed upon by both spouses or at the court's discretion.

Key factors in determining the need for support include whether or not the spouse in question has the capacity to earn enough to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, whether or not the spouse in question contributed to the attainment of education, training, or career position that affected the supporter's earning capacity, the duration of the marriage, and other factors as deemed appropriate by the court.

Child Custody, Child Support

If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding issues involving the children, the court will establish custody at its discretion. It shall consider any factors it deems relevant, including the health, safety and welfare of the child, any history of abuse by either parent or any outside person seeking custody, and the nature and amount of contact with both parents.

California calculates child support by the Income Shares Model. The monthly support is divided proportionally according to the parents' proportional income, although other factors may be considered.

If you are having marital problems and are thinking about a divorce, consult with a divorce attorney to discuss your options.

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