California Family Law
An Overview of California Divorce, Legal Separation &
(From information provided by the Superior Court of California)
Divorce. Also called “dissolution of marriage,” it is an action filed in court to end a marriage, of which “irreconcilable differences” is by far the most commonly ground invoked by a party. This is sufficient ground and a party doesn’t have to give the court any other reason. It doesn’t matter who is at fault. That is why California is often referred to as a “no-fault” jurisdiction state when it comes to marital dissolution cases. To get a divorce, either spouse must have lived in California for the last 6 months AND for 3 months in the county where filing will be made. When such action is filed, a party can ask the judge to make orders on issues such as child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, division of properties, payment of debts, payment of attorney’s fees, and for the wife, the restoration of her maiden name. The judge can also make other orders on incidents like domestic violence. Anyone who is married can get a regular divorce. But under certain circumstances, some couples that have been married less than 5 years may choose to get a “summary dissolution,” which is usually an easier way to end a marriage.Click below for a free initial case evaluation!
Legal Separation. For people who can’t (or don’t want to) get a divorce, they can ask the judge for a legal separation. It will not end the marriage, but you can ask the judge to make orders on all other issues like child and spousal support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, property relations, or any other orders that you could get in a divorce. As it does not end a marriage, both parties may NOT remarry after getting a legal separation, although an action for legal separation may be converted to a divorce case later on.
Annulment. Also called “nullity of marriage,” is an action filed in court to obtain a judgment that a marriage is not legally valid. Some grounds include: incest (between close blood relatives), bigamy (where a spouse is already married to someone else), or when a person is younger than 18 at the time of the marriage. There are several other reasons why a judge may say that a marriage is not legally valid.To get an annulment, you must be able to prove to the judge that one of these reasons is true in your case. This makes an annulment case very different from a divorce or a legal separation. In this action, a party can also ask for orders on things like child custody and visitation, and child and spousal support. But it must be noted that a nullity removes the presumption of parentage arising from a valid marriage. Therefore, a party must also ask that the parentage be established for any children with the other party.
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