Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering a divorce, speak with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer at Fernandez & Karney. We have successfully handled thousands of family law cases and will put this experience to work for you. Our founding partners Steven Fernandez and Mark Karney are Certified Family Law Specialists with over 50 years of combined experience handling every aspect of a divorce. Additionally, we have a team of attorneys and paralegals committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcome. If you have specific questions, call us today to discuss your case. We offer a free consultation for your convenience.
California Family Code § 2300 defines divorce, or dissolution of marriage, as a judge’s order that effectively “restore[s] the parties to the state of unmarried persons.” Declared single again, divorcees face far-reaching, life-altering consequences and changes in their rights and duties.
The effect of divorce on property rights has been the fodder of tabloids in many celebrity cases; unsurprisingly, a Wikipedia page lists the most expensive divorces. Its impact on parenting rights publicized in the context of bitter custody battles, divorce has earned the reputation of being a thoroughly traumatizing experience.
Pursuant to California Family Code § 2320, for a judge to grant a divorce in California, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for six months and of the county where filing for at least 3 months. An exception to this rule is permitted in the case of nullity proceedings, legal separation, or same-sex marriage. For same-sex marriages, the following circumstances must apply:
- The parties entered into such formal relationship in California, or
- Current state of residency refuses to dissolve the union.
Speak with an attorney at Fernandez & Karney if you have questions regarding California’s residency requirement.
The Waiting Period
In California, no divorce is final unless at least six months have passed since the divorce petition and summons have been served on the non-filing spouse, or respondent. If the respondent appears in court before such service, the six-months countdown may start from this first appearance (California Family Code § 2339).
California is a no-fault divorce state. As such, proof of misconduct, such as infidelity, has no bearing on the judge’s decision to grant the divorce. However, proof of misconduct may well be relevant to other decisions such as the calculation of spousal support. “No-fault” simply means the court will not assign blame for the disintegration of the marriage.
A claim by one spouse that the marriage or domestic partnership is defunct will suffice as basis for the dissolution: the phrase “irreconcilable differences” stands for this idea. Additionally, the courts also allow for divorce or legal separation, if one of the spouses permanently lacks legal capacity.
Decisions Before The Court: The Scope Of Divorce Proceedings
While sitting in divorce proceedings, California courts can decide:
- Who gets the custody of the children,
- What the amount of child support or spousal support will be, and
- How to divide the property.
Likewise, the courts can issue a judgment regarding property rights and child custody with respect to legal separation, without dissolving the marriage. We can assist you with any family law related aspect of a divorce including:
- High-net worth divorce,
- Contested divorce,
- Uncontested divorce,
- Complex property division,
- Spousal support,
- Child custody,
- Child support,
- Modifications, and
- Domestic violence
Because a divorce can encompass so many different issues, it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney with a proven track record on your side.
Unmarried Partners and Same-sex Couples Can Also Seek a Divorce in California
Rights of same-sex couples have a turbulent history in California, but the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges found that not permitting gays and lesbians to marry was an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Since 2003, registered domestic partners also share the same rights and obligations as married couples in California, including the right to terminate such partnership.
Dissolving A Marriage Or A Domestic Partnership
The law foresees three different ways to end or alter the rights and responsibilities that go along with marriage, including same-sex marriage, or a domestic partnership:
2. Dissolution of marriage (divorce)
3. Legal separation
In some cases, dissolution can be accomplished by an accelerated, summary procedure.
Alternatives to Divorce
Under certain circumstances, a divorce may not be your best option. Two alternatives are annulment and legal separation.
Annulment is only appropriate when there are doubts about the validity of marriage. The basis of annulment include:
- One spouse being under the age of legal consent, or
- Use of force to compel the marriage.
Someone might choose legal separation when the divorce residency requirement has not been met, to keep certain benefits, or for religious reasons. Generally, California courts cannot approve legal separation without the consent of both parties. The spouses can later convert legal separation into a divorce; in such cases the California residency requirement may not apply.
Speak with a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer at Fernandez & Karney Today
At Fernandez & Karney, our Los Angeles divorce lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience. Additionally, attorneys Steven Fernandez and Mark Karney are Certified Family Law Specialists with experience handling complex divorce cases. If you need further assistance, please contact us today for a free consultation by calling (310) 393-0236.