There are 3 ways to end a marriage or registered domestic partnership in California: divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Both spouses or domestic partners do not have to agree to end the marriage. Either one can decide to end the marriage, and the other spouse/partner, even if he or she does not want to get a divorce, cannot stop the process by refusing to participate. If a spouse or domestic partner does not participate, the other spouse/partner will be able to get a judgment terminating the relationship.
California is a “no fault” divorce state. This means that the spouse or domestic partner that is asking for the divorce does not have to prove that the other person did anything wrong. To get a no fault divorce, a spouse or domestic partner has to state that the couple has irreconcilable differences.
After you decide how you want to end your marriage or domestic partnership, you need to plan your case ahead of time. Think about how you are going to handle your case. Planning before you start and talking to an attorney can save you time and money as you go through the court process.
Choosing the Right Attorney
Choosing the right divorce attorney for you and your case is the first step in the process. Find a divorce attorney who has you and your best interests in mind. Find a divorce attorney who you can communicate with and who has significant experience in handling divorces. Ask about strategy, how they think your case will go, and fees and costs.
Ways to Protect Yourself During the Divorce
- If You Have Children:
Do not move out of the family home. Once you move out, you make your chances at a fair custody and visitation arrangement very difficult. Living with your spouse will likely be tense. Consider making an arrangement to share the home and custody of the children with your spouse.
Do not take the children from their family home or across state lines.
For custody of the children, demand joint legal and physical custody from the beginning of the divorce process.
- Protect Yourself Financially
Cancel jointly held credit cards before you tell your spouse you intend to do it. Joint bank accounts are often cleaned out by angry or manipulative spouses. Remove half of the account balance and use those funds to open an individual account at a different bank in your own name. Notify your spouse in writing that you have taken half of the account. Cut back on expenses and sell extra property. Do not contribute to your retirement accounts while the divorce is pending. Move your personal records (birth certificates, pension papers, diplomas, and other important papers) out of the family home where your spouse does not have access. Make copies of joint records like deeds, titles, real estate records, bank statements, tax returns, W2s, etc. Catalog marital property using a video camera.
Call us at (707) 553-7356 to schedule an initial consultation with Norbert U. Frost, an experienced divorce attorney. We look forward to meeting you.