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Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

Q: How Much Do I Have to Pay in Alimony?

A: It depends. In California, alimony—also known as spousal support—is appropriate in cases where a spouse has shown a need for financial support, and the other spouse has the ability to pay for such support. Historically, alimony was awarded to ensure a spouse who focused on household duties would have the financial means to cover their living expenses after divorce.

Today, courts award spousal support after considering several factors, including:

  • The length of your marriage
  • The respective earning capacities of you and your spouse
  • The standard of living to which you grew accustomed during your marriage

Q: Does My Ex Get Half of All My Stuff?

A: Not necessarily. California law determines the division of assets and liabilities upon divorce using principles of community property. Generally, all community property is equally divided between divorcing spouses. All property that you and your spouse acquired while married qualifies as community property. However, any property you owned before marriage, after your date of separation, or acquired during marriage through gift or inheritance, is considered your separate property and is not divisible upon divorce.

Q: How Do I Get a Divorce?

A: In California, divorce proceedings are initiated by filing the following forms with the court:

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (Form FL-100)
  • Summons (Form FL-110)
  • Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act if minor children are involved (Form FL-105)

The party who filed the forms (the petitioner) must have someone serve these forms on the other spouse (the respondent). Service of process may be accomplished in person or through mail and is evidenced by a proof of service form (Form FL-115), which must also be filed with the court.

Within 60 days of filing for divorce, the petitioner must disclose pertinent financial information. This information will serve as the basis for issues of property division, child support, and spousal support.

A complete financial disclosure involves serving the following forms and documents on the respondent:

  • Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-140)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
  • Schedule of Assets and Debts (Form FL-142)
  • Property Declaration (Form FL-160)
  • All tax returns from the past two years.

After serving the required financial disclosures and supporting documents, the petitioner must file a Declaration Regarding Service (Form FL-141) with the court, affirming that they completed the service requirement.

Q: How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

A: It depends. Not every divorce is the same, so costs may vary from case to case. Some of the most important factors that determine the overall cost of a divorce involve the value of the assets involved, the length of your marriage, and whether you and your spouse had children together. Additionally, whether you and your spouse are both on the same page about divorce can significantly contribute to how much you spend in attorney’s fees and court costs. Generally, divorce is less expensive for couples with fewer assets, a shorter marriage, no children, and who mutually agree on getting a divorce.

Q: Does the Law Favor Child Custody for the Mother?

A: Not necessarily. When it comes to child custody, there is no legal preference for awarding custody to either the mother or father. Instead, courts determine issues of child custody based on the best interests of the child in question. There is a legal presumption that a joint custody arrangement is in the best interests of a child because the law recognizes that a child will ideally have a strong, healthy, and close relationship with both parents. However, one can overcome this presumption with evidence demonstrating why a different custody arrangement—such as sole custody—would better serve the child’s interests.

Q: Do I Need a Lawyer?

A: Most likely. Getting a divorce involves many laws and procedural rules that are often difficult to understand and strictly enforced. For people who cannot afford to retain an attorney, the Superior Court of California provides self-help resources, including instructions on completing forms and workshops on court procedures.

For More Answers, Call Neshanian Law Firm Today

If you have questions about the divorce process in California, you should contact The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc. for advice. Our legal team is focused on helping you understand the legal issues of divorce and other family law matters, so you can make an informed decision about your case.

Please call us at (949) 577-7935 or contact us online today to set up a consultation.