During your initial consultation easy to understand terms and the law that pertains to the issues in your case will be thoroughly explained.
The overall principles of divorce are simple, although their application can be extremely complex.
Here are the basic principals in a nutshell:
California is a No Fault Divorce State
You don’t have to show that one spouse is at fault to get divorced in the State of California. Divorces can happen simply because of irreconcilable differences.
Division of Property
When you get married, in some ways it is like forming a company called "the Community", with your spouse, and each of you are 50% shareholders. It does not matter who does the work. Any assets or debts you acquire due to either or both of your efforts during marriage typically belong to the Community. Once divorced, these assets and debts of the Community are divided equally. This principle is generally more important than how title to any particular piece of property is held. Even if title is in your spouse’s name alone, it is likely Community property if it was acquired with funds earned during marriage. Things that a spouse had before marriage, acquired after separation, or were gifted to or inherited by one spouse alone during marriage, and were not the results of efforts during marriage, remain that spouse’s separate property.
In simplified terms, the higher earning spouse will generally be required to pay support to the lower/non-earning spouse, so that both can try and maintain a similar standard of living to which they had during marriage. This is subject to adjustment for any equitable circumstances that may apply such as people living above their means and acquiring debt during marriage to fund their lifestyle. The lower/non-earning spouse usually has a duty to try and work to contribute to his/her own support unless there are compelling other circumstances that would not make sense.
As a general rule of thumb, if a marriage lasted less than 10 years, support will be paid for half the duration of marriage. If a marriage lasted more than 10 years there is a presumption that support will be paid until death or either party, recipient's remarriage, or further order of the court. At times, it may be modified or terminated in the future. This type of support is called Permanent Spousal Support, which can be a misleading title as it often is not permanent.
There is a second kind of spousal support called Temporary Spousal Support. This is awarded by the court on a temporary basis until the court makes a final decision at trial, or the parties reach a final settlement. This amount of support is generally determined by a mathematical formula that considers each parties’ income. Computer software can be used to perform the calculation, although some judges do it differently.
The amount of child support that is ordered in a given case is determined by a complex mathematical formula. It considers the income of each parent and the percentage of time that each parent has actual physical custody of, or responsibility for, the child or children, among a variety of other factors. This is also calculated with special computer software. Child support generally terminates on the earlier of the child turning 19, turning 18 and no longer being a full-time high school student, death, or the legal emancipation of the child.
When it comes to deciding on a custody schedule, the law makes no presumption in favor of a man or woman. The court is supposed to make common-sense considerations of what is in the best interest and welfare of the child/children, given the past history and any other number of other considerations.