The Law Office of Craig A. Darling: Dissolution of Marriage in Orange County

You and your spouse have made the difficult decision to end your marriage. What now? Filing for divorce can be a complicated process, particularly if you have complex financial arrangements or disagree about who should have custody of your children. During this difficult time, it’s important to have a trusted family attorney such as Craig A. Darling, Esq. on your side.

Filing For Divorce in California

Eligibility for filing for dissolution of marriage largely depends on residency, as opposed to your reason for divorcing. In California, as in many states, you can simply claim to be divorcing due to irreconcilable differences. California is a no-fault divorce state, so one party need not be deemed “guilty” in order to proceed with divorce.

Residency requirements for divorce in CA are simple: you and your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months, and in the county in which you intend to divorce for at least three months. If you and your spouse have lived in different counties for the last three months, you can file in either county.

Although a prompt divorce is desirable, California has a mandatory waiting period. The fastest you can complete your divorce is six months, although many separations take longer. However, with the right lawyer on your side, you can at least complete all of the necessary paperwork and have your divorce approved quickly.

Dissolution (Divorce) / Legal Separation / Nullity (Annulment)

In California, there are several ways to end a marriage or domestic partnership: dissolution (more commonly know as divorce), legal separation, and nullity (also known as annulment). You will find information here that may help you decide which option is right for you and your partner; however you should also consider consulting with a family law attorney so that you are informed of your legal rights and the important legal issues in your case.

In a divorce or legal separation case, you can ask the judge for orders that may include child custody, visitation, child support, spousal/partner support, the division of assets and debts, and restraining orders.

After you are divorced, or the court grants an annulment, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again. A legal separation does not end a marriage or domestic partnership.

A formal judgment signed by a judge and stating the date that your marriage or domestic partnership ends must be filed with the court before your case is final.

1. Dissolution of Marriage

A divorce in legal terms is called a Dissolution of Marriage. For parties in a Domestic Partnership, this is Dissolution of a Domestic Partnership. The Dissolution ends all legal bonds. There are residency requirements to get divorced in California. This means you have to have lived in California for the past 6 months. To file in Orange County, one party must have lived in Orange County for the three months immediately preceding the filing of the Petition.

Both persons do not have to agree to the divorce. One partner can’t force the other to stay in the relationship. Either spouse can decide to end the marriage. The spouse who does not want to get a divorce cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case. Non participation may lead to a default judgment, not to a dismissal of the divorce request.

If the parties cannot reach an agreement to the divorce and all issues of the marriage or partnership, the court will make final decisions regarding how the couple will divide what they owe, divide property, determine whether one person will receive financial support from the other regarding the minor children and make other orders on related issues.

There is a no fault divorce law in California. There is no need to prove “fault” of one or the other spouse or partner in the deterioration of marriage or partnership from the court’s point of view. The grounds for divorce in California are that there are irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity.

If a Domestic Partnership is not registered with the State of California, you cannot file for a Dissolution of Domestic Partnership with the Court.

It takes at least six months for the divorce to become final. The six months is counted from the date that the partner who started the divorce had the other served with the Petition and the Summons OR when the responding partner filed their first paper, whichever occurs first. There is a process to follow to finish the dissolution/divorce after the first papers are filed. Several other documents still need to be submitted to the court. A divorce is not final until a Judgment of Dissolution is signed by the judge. One of the parties has to prepare the judgment form with the appropriate attachments and submit it for signature.

Either party may ask the judge to order child support, spousal or partner support (alimony), child custody and visitation, division of property, domestic violence restraining orders and other orders on related issues unless there is a default. If there is a default because the other party did not respond to the Petition, they are essentially waiving their right to have a say in the divorce settlement.

Couples married for less than 5 years, that do not have children, do not owe or own much and agree on how they will divide their belongings can use a shortened process to handle their divorce called a Summary Dissolution. This process is not available for dissolution of domestic partnerships.

The break up of a marriage is always a painful experience. Even when you are still on friendly terms with your partner, there is an enormous sense of loss. When you are not on amicable terms with your partner any longer, you may be arguing over everything.

Orange County Family Law Attorney Craig A. Darling will help you calmly assess your situation, and help you understand the steps you need to take. There are things you need to do to protect yourself during a divorce, and choices you will need to make.

It can be to your advantage to negotiate and agree to issues like property division and spousal support instead of forcing the judge to make the decisions at a hearing. If you go to court, however, Attorney Darling will fight for what is in your best interest.

2. Legal Separation

A Legal Separation does not legally end the marriage or domestic partnership, but allows for persons to live apart and make their own decisions about money, property and parenting issues. Sometimes people choose this option for religious reasons or due to insurance or other benefits. Persons are not free to marry again, but they may ask the court for orders such as for division of debts, property, custody and support. There are no residency requirements to file for Legal Separation in California.

3. A Nullity or Annulment

In a nullity or annulment, the court ends the marriage or domestic partnership by saying it was not legal from the beginning. The court declares the marriage or domestic partnership void because of force, fraud, bigamous or incestuous relationship, physical or mental incapacity or because one partner was too young to legally marry. The court will make final decisions regarding how the couple will divide what they owe, divide property, determine whether one person will receive financial support from the other and make other orders on related issues. A nullity establishes that a marital status or domestic partnership never existed.

Why You Need an Attorney’s Help For Dissolution of Marriage in Orange County

Marriage dissolution is notoriously complicated, but the right Irvine divorce attorney can expedite the process while still ensuring that you receive full legal protection. Your attorney can guide you through all aspects of filing and any proceedings that follow. If you and your spouse were married for fewer than five years, your attorney could help you obtain a summary dissolution. Whether you wish to resolve your differences with your spouse through mediation or believe that litigation is inevitable, you lawyer’s support will make all the difference as you address questions of child custody and division of property.

Looking to dissolve your marriage in as stress-free a manner as possible? You can benefit from a consultation with the Law Office of Craig A. Darling. Get in touch today to learn more about the dissolution process and how Craig A. Darling, Esq. can help you obtain a fresh start.