Did you know that there are 3 main types of divorce in California? While no divorce is ever pleasant, two out of the three options are definitely less frustrating. Divorce does not necessarily need to be hell on Earth. I talk about the three kinds of divorce below.
Divorce via Summary Dissolution
This is by far the least painful way to get a divorce. In order to qualify for a summary dissolution, the couple must show that...
1) They have been married less than five years,
2) They have little to no jointly held or community property
3) They have no minor children
4) They are willing to jointly file for the divorce and agree on important issues such as property division, child support and custody, and spousal support.
If you meet all the prerequisites for filing for a summary dissolution, you can procure a divorce judgement within 6 months from the date of the filing. Hiring an attorney will be necessary to draft a marital settlement agreement that is enforceable in Court and that preserves your rights. Divorcing via summary dissolution will greatly reduce your court costs and attorney fees. More importantly, it will ensure that you can divorce within six months without the headaches and expenses associated with litigation.
Not everyone will qualify for a summary dissolution. But nearly everyone can get an uncontested divorce as long as they are ready and willing to compromise on the issues of child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. As long as both parties are on the same page, a competent attorney should be hired to draft an enforceable marital settlement agreement to wrap up the divorce without the need for expensive litigation. As long as there is no ongoing domestic violence or spousal/child abuse, any divorcing couple should be able to procure an uncontested divorce judgment within a year at most. If the couple does not qualify for a summary dissolution, I highly recommend that a divorcing couple put aside their differences and work together to file an uncontested divorce.
Sometimes a married couple simply cannot get along. Or perhaps the parties initially attempt to settle things diplomatically, but the other party is unwilling to compromise or is simply asking for too much from the other person. And in too many cases, there is ongoing domestic violence or child abuse that makes it imperative for one or both parties to seek help from social services and an attorney. If you anticipate a highly contested divorce, I highly recommend hiring a competent attorney to help you preserve your custody, spousal support, and property rights. A popular maxim in the legal community is that "someone who represents themselves in court has a fool for a client." I've seen too many people go "Pro Per" (represent themselves) and get their asses kicked in Family Law court. Don't be that fool.
I hope that this article helped shed some light on what divorce is like in California. In next week's blog, I will talk about the definition of "No-Fault Divorce" in California, a concept that is commonly misunderstood. Stay tuned!
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