FAMILY LAW

DIVORCE & FAMILY LAW IN CALIFORNIA

Filing for divorce is an emotionally-draining and difficult experience for many people. The decision to get divorced is highly sensitive and personal and will carry significant ramifications for many facets of your life. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need help getting through the divorce process, or have questions about a family law matter such as alimony or child custody, consider hiring an experienced attorney with The Geller Firm. Our legal team is ready and able to help guide you through this difficult period of your life so you can get to the other side and start the next chapter in your journey. 

FILING FOR DIVORCE IN CALIFORNIA

In order to file for divorce (also known as a “petition for dissolution of marriage or registered domestic partnership”) in San Francisco, there are specific legal requirements that must be met, including: 

  1. You need to be a legal resident of California for at least six months. 
  2. You need to be a resident of the county in which you seek to file for divorce for at least three months. 
  3. The initial documents must be served on the other party, who is given time to respond.
  4. After you file for divorce, California law requires that you and your spouse wait six months before a final judgment of dissolution can be entered by a court.

DOES FAULT NEED TO BE ASSIGNED IN A CALIFORNIA DIVORCE FILING? 

A common question asked by many people is whether they need to affirmatively assign fault when filing for divorce in California. The answer is no. Like the vast majority of states, California allows residents to file for a “no-fault” divorce. Basically, this means that you and your spouse are not obligated to prove that either is “at fault” for causing the dissolution of the marriage. As a result, sensitive issues associated with infidelity, abuse, or financial mismanagement are not necessary to finalize a divorce in California. Nevertheless, you will be required to prove irreconcilable differences to have your marriage or domestic partnership dissolved in California. Fortunately, this is a fairly low bar to meet and should not present any issues when filing for a no-fault divorce. 

When you retain the services of an experienced divorce and family law attorney with The Geller Firm, we will work with you to ensure that adequate proof of irreconcilable differences is presented to the court should a dissolution action proceed to trial.

OVERVIEW OF THE DIVORCE PROCESS

Once an action for dissolution has commenced, the divorce process includes a detailed analysis of your finances, your spouse’s finances, issues related to your children and custody (if applicable) and the proper division of community property, along with ensuring there are fair and equitable awards for child support and/or spousal support, if applicable to your case.

The California Family Code requires that both you and your spouse exchange the following documents:

  1. “Preliminary” and “final” declarations of disclosure;
  2. Income and expense declarations; and 
  3. Supporting documents.

Please be advised that these documents and financial disclosures are mandatory. In addition, they must be completed truthfully and accurately.

When you retain the services of an experienced divorce and family law attorney with The Geller Firm, we can help compile and prepare these documents for you. In addition, we will engage in the discovery process to obtain the necessary information to get an accurate assessment of your marital estate. 

WHAT IT COSTS TO GET A DIVORCE IN CALIFORNIA 

An important issue that many people have questions about is the financial toll associated with filing for divorce. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to what you can expect to pay to get a divorce in California. This is because each case is different and has their own set of unique facts. Nevertheless, there are specific factors that can impact how much you wind up paying for a divorce. Those factors include:

  1. The level of cooperation between you and your spouse during the divorce process;
  2. Whether you have children;
  3. Whether you and your spouse can reach an agreement on child custody;
  4. Whether you and your spouse will need to divide a pension plan;
  5. Whether your divorce will require litigation, which entails court costs such as expert witnesses, filing fees, and/or court reporter fees.

WHEN A DIVORCE BECOMES FINALIZED

In California, your divorce becomes final on the “effective date.” Basically, this date would be, at the very minimum, six months plus one day after serving your spouse with a copy of the summons and petition for divorce. 

The effective date will be inserted into the final judgment for dissolution. If you and your spouse agree on the terms of a settlement, including an effective date, this can be included in the judgment packet that is filed with the court. 

Otherwise, the court will typically enter the effective date in the judgment after it processes all of the judgment paperwork (if you and your spouse can reach an amicable settlement) or following a trial (if you and your spouse need to litigate contested matters).

The finality of your divorce, memorialized by the judgment of dissolution, is important since it impacts your right to remarry, your eligibility for health insurance from your former spouse, and how you file your taxes. 

WHY IT MAKES SENSE TO SPEAK TO AN EXPERIENCED DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY 

If you are on the fence about retaining the services of an attorney to help with filing for divorce or another family law matter, we understand. There are many misconceptions about attorneys and the practice of law, particularly in the area of divorce and family law. Let us put your mind at ease during a confidential consultation. During the consult, you will get the opportunity to speak directly to an attorney about your situation and have important questions answered. The consultation is focused on learning more about you and your specific legal matter. If it makes sense to move forward with representation, you will be empowered to make that decision.

Once you have retained an attorney with The Geller Firm, they will immediately get to work on your case and advocating for your best interests. You can then focus on taking the steps necessary to start a new chapter of your life. 

A knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney with The Geller Firm is fully capable of handling an array of complex divorce issues and related legal matter, including:

  1. All aspects of property division and community property disputes;
  2. Custody, visitation, and child support;
  3. Alimony issues;
  4. “Marvin” actions (i.e. alimony for unmarried couples);
  5. Same-sex marriage and domestic partnership issues;
  6. Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements (creating or litigating);
  7. Domestic violence restraining orders;
  8. Bankruptcy issues;
  9. Post-divorce modifications of court orders;
  10. Appeals of family court (or civil court) orders;
  11. Resolution through mediation.

The Geller Firm is capable of handling your personal and financial matters with the necessary foresight and attention to detail to ensure your unique circumstances are considered, that your marital rights and parental rights are protected, and that you are able to achieve a resolution so you can start a new chapter in your life. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and are available for virtual and in-person consultations. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.