Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Divorce Basics

Many people who are contemplating divorce have basic questions regarding the process. Here is a very brief guide to help you answer some basic questions.

Can either party initiate and get a divorce?
Yes, either party is entitled to a divorce under California law.

What are valid reasons for getting a divorce in California?
California has a no-fault divorce policy. This means that either spouse can request and be granted a divorce based upon the grounds of "irreconcilable differences". "Irreconcilable differences" basically includes anything from "not getting along" to much more serious issues. Therefore, California allows divorce for any reason whatsoever.

Are there any other important requirements in order to get a divorce in California?
At least one party must be a resident of California for six continuous months, and a resident of the county in which the divorce proceeding is filed for three continuous months, prior to filing.

How long does it take to get a divorce in California?
California requires a time period of at least six months before a divorce can be finalized. This time frame can be longer if there are serious disagreements between the spouses.

Who will get custody of the children?
California uses the standard of “the best interests of the children” in order to determine who the primary caregiver will be. This often results in both parents having some custody of the minor children, and in some cases, joint custody. If custody and visitation becomes an issue between the parents, mediation is often employed in order to reach agreement between the parties. If no agreement is reached, the Court can impose the recommendation of a mediator, or decide upon a different solution based upon “the best interests of the children”. In some instances, litigation may be required in order to reach a solution to intractable differences.

What is the difference between physical custody and legal custody?
Just like the name implies, physical custody relates to who the children live with. Visitation is usually granted to the spouse who does not have physical custody; sometimes, both parents are granted joint physical custody. Legal custody deals with the responsibility of parents toward their children, and generally refers to a parent's right and responsibility to make decisions for the children (usually relating to their health, education, welfare, etc.).

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