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Divorce in California (Dissolution of Marriage)

Divorce, or dissolution of marriage, is the process of dissolving the legal relationship between married persons. Divorce related issues include:

  • Division of marital poperty, assets, and debt
  • Division of business interest
  • Division of retirement benefits
  • Child custody, support and visitation rights
  • Spousal support rights (Alimony)
  • Tax liability and benefits related to divorce
  • Tort liability of a former spouse (Lawsuits)

Note: Laws related to a California divorce issues can be complex and they change frequently. Persons that choose to represent themselves without the aid of a divorce lawyer should be aware that family law judges are not lenient on the rules of law, legal deadlines, or court procedure, just because a non-lawyer is not aware of those laws, deadlines, and rules. Therefore, before, filing for a California divorce, you should contact a family law lawyer to avoid common and costly mistakes that can negatively impact your rights to property, support, child custody, and more.

Reasons for a California Divorce 

There are two legal ground (reasons) upon which to base a California divorce: 1) Irreconcilable differences, and 2) Incurable insanity. By far, most divorce proceed on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. A divorce based on the grounds of incurable insanity is usually related a request for conservatorship or sole child custody. For more information on divorce on the grounds of incurable insanity contact our divorce lawyers today to make an appointment for a free consultation.

Irreconcilable Differences and No Fault Divorce

Irreconcilable differences means that the spouses have difference that negatively impact the marriage and that it is not possible for the spouses to continue in the marriage based on those difference. Family law judges rarely inquire into the basis of the irreconcilable differences, even if one spouse believes that the marriage can be saved without a divorce. Also, California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that it does not matter to the family law court who may be at fault in causing the divorce and the judge will not inquire into areas of infidelity or lack of affection type arguments that attempts to demonstrate to the judge that one spouse was more at fault for causing a divorce.

Six Month Waiting Period for California Divorce

California law requires a six month waiting period from the time a divorce is filed to the time it is legally recognized in law. This six month period is created because many California divorce applicants actually change their minds about divorce after filing for a divorce. Incidentally, the spouses are not allowed to live with a person who is not their spouse, in a romantic relationship, during the six month waiting period. Cohabitation with a romantic partner during the six month waiting period after a divorce is filed can have negative impact on a spouse’s ability to collect spousal support.

Automatic Restraining Orders Issued in Divorce Cases

Many spouses who file for divorce, or are served with a petition for divorce, do not realize that the divorce paperwork includes restraining orders designed to stop a spouse from defraud other spouse by liquidating community property or accumulate community debt before the judge has a chance to divide the assets and debts legally and equitably. The restraining orders, also known as the ATROS (Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders) forbid transferring, selling, encumbering, or gifting any asset or debt reasonably acquired during marriage. The restraining orders also forbid a spouse from ceasing to pay for the other spouse’s health insurance, car payments, dental insurance, etc., if that spouse regularly paid for those items before the divorce was filed. As stated, these automatic retraining orders are temporary until a family law judge can make decisions in court on the issues that best suits the needs of the parties.

Note: Failure to comply with the ATROS can lead to contempt of court, award of attorney fee for opposing spouse, adverse court orders, and more.

Community Property & Debt

There are common issues that come up in many California divorce cases and many of those issues are discussed in different sections of this website (See List of Family Law Issues at Rights); however, community property and community debt deserves extra attention here because it is commonly misunderstood. Community property is any property or asset acquired during marriage. This include retirement benefits, value in a business (jointly or solely owned), cash on hand, securities, accounts receivable, income from employment, and more. The value of the community property is established and divided equally under California law. This does not mean that a particular item is divided equally, but rather the value of the community as a whole is divided equally. Community debt is not always divided equally during a California divorce. Community debt is usually divided equally but the family law judge may use equitable factors to assign debt. These equitable factors include, but are not limited to, the following: which spouses benefited from the community debt, which spouse is more capable of paying for the debt, and which spouse was primarily sought by third parties to pay for the debt. For more information see Community Property.

Difference between Divorce, Annulment, & Legal Separation

Divorce is the process of separating the legal relationship between married spouses. An annulment is to make a marriage void from the beginning (as thought the marriage never took place). An annulment is available in very limited circumstances but contrary to popular opinion, an annulment is not always dependent on the length of marriage. A legal separation is a legal accounting for the married couple’s respective rights and responsibilities to assets and debts, whether acquired prior to, during, or after marriage. The main different between a divorce and legal separation is that after a legal separation the married couple remains married, whereas after a divorce, the married couple is no longer married. For more information, see Annulment & Legal Separation.

Common legal issues in divorce cases include:

  • Child Custody, Child Support, Child Visitation
  • Spousal Support (Alimony)
  • Dividing Retirement (QDRO)
  • Dividing and Selling a Home
  • Dividing Community Property & Debt
  • Dividing a Business or Business Value
  • Domestic Violence Retraining Orders
  • Discovering Hidden Assets
  • Pet Custody (New 2019 Law)
  • Changing a Child’s Surname
  • Emergency Orders & Ex Parte Hearings
  • Modifying (Changing) Court Orders
  • Contempt of Court for Disobeying Orders
  • Wage Garnishment
  • Navigating Family Law Forms
  • 730 Evals (Use of Experts to Assist the Court)
  • Mediation Guidance
  • Applying Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements
  • Tax Law & Divorce
  • Family Law Trials, and More.

Some California divorces cases are relatively straight forward and uncomplicated, while other California divorce cases may require complex litigation and discovery. Either way, if you are considering a California divorce you should proceed with the guidance of an experienced divorce lawyer.

Note: The lasting negative legal consequences associated with do-it-yourself divorce (or the use of unqualified legal aid divorce paralegals) can add years of unnecessary stress and result in substantial loss of rights, assets, finances, and above all, time with a child or children.  Be aware, failure to timely file or respond to a request for order (RFO) in family law court can have severe and lasting negative effects on your divorce case; this is especially true in domestic violence restraining order, spousal support, and child custody cases.

When the parties to a California divorce are amicable and agree on legal issues they might benefit from collaborative or mediated divorce; however, even in the case of an amicable divorce, the parties should first be made aware of their respective legal rights, responsibilities, and consequences through a qualified divorce attorney before initiating or finalizing their California divorce.

At Dorado & Dorado, our experienced divorce attorneys understand that divorce is a highly personal matter and that clients require individualized attention. Our experienced divorce attorneys handle every aspect of your divorce case to make the process less stressful by keeping you up-to-date and informed while competently and aggressively pursuing all of your divorce rights, and most of all, not make matters worse with unnecessary litigation designed to create more hostility and inflexibility between the parties and their children.

When you find yourself contemplating divorce, initiating a divorce, or caught in the middle of a difficult divorce, call the experienced divorce attorneys at Dorado & Dorado. Our divorce attorneys are available six days a week (excluding Sunday) for a free in-office one hour consultation. Call today for a free and private consultation with an experienced California divorce attorney.

909-725-8199

Divorce & Family Law Lawyers

909-725-8199

Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)

Free Consultations Mon - Sat

Open 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

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divorce lawyers

909-725-8199

Divorce & Family Law Lawyers

  • Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage)
  • legal Separation
  • Annulment
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Child Visitation (Parenting Time)
  • Fathers' Rights
  • Spousal Support (Alimony)
  • Prenuptial Agreement
  • Postnuptial Agreement
  • Restraining Order (DVRO)
  • Stepparent Adoption
  • Guardianship
  • Grandparents' Rights
  • Paternity Suit
  • Ex Parte Hearing
  • Modifying Court Orders
  • Contempt of Court
  • Juvenile Dependency Court
  • Child Relocation Request
  • Request for Orders (RFO)
  • Conservatorship
  • Child Name Change
  • Community Property
  • Bigamy Defense
  • 730 Evaluation
  • Mediation
  • Pet Custody
  • Child Abduction
  • Terminating Parental Rights
  • Dividing Retirement (QDRO)
  • CPS Defense
  • CACI Name Removal

909-725-8199

Divorce & Family Law Lawyers

San Bernardino County

Redlands, Highland, Colton, Fontana, Rialto, Hesperia, Victorville, Yucaipa, Upland, Chino, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Loma Linda, Grand Terrace

Riverside County

Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Riverside, Moreno Valley, Corona, Norco, Hemet, Perris, Banning, Beaumont

Divorce & Family Law Lawyers

909-725-8199

Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)

Free Consultations Mon - Sat

Open 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Se Habla Español

divorce attorneys


Family Law & Divorce Attorney

Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage)