Filing for Divorce, Separation, Support, Custody, and Property Division
A divorce in California is a "dissolution of marriage." A dissolution
begins by filing a Petition in the Superior Court in the County where
you have resided for the last three of the preceding six months. Termination
of marital status, when you become an "unmarried person," cannot
be granted earlier than six months after the responding party is served
with the court papers. This is the California cooling off period. No marital
counseling is required, although we recommend you consider it.
With one exception, to file for divorce in California you must have been
a legal resident of this State for at least six months. If your are not
yet a resident, you may file for
Legal Separation and obtain California
child and spousal support orders,
custody orders (assuming there are no orders already pending in another state), and
divide community property and
debts incurred before or during marriage. The Legal Separation proceeding can be converted into a dissolution once
you have gained residency. However, on January 1, 2012
Family Code section 2320 was amended to permit gay couples who married in California, but who presently
reside in other states that will not permit a dissolution of that union,
to file a California dissolution (or legal separation) in the county where
California is a "no-fault" state which means that all that must
be alleged by one party is that they believe there has been an irremediable
breakdown of the marriage. This is also known as irreconcilable differences.
Many people are able to complete a no contest divorce, and with help can
agree upon most of the issues. Others face highly contested divorce proceedings.
Temporary Orders Are Available Once Your Case Is Filed
As part of a dissolution proceeding it may be necessary to deal immediately
with any number of issues. "Temporary orders" can be issued
after a court hearing (or upon agreement) that remain effective until
a Judgment or a different order issues. These are also called "pendente
lite" orders. A party can apply for orders when they file the Petition
or any time after. The requests are made by way of a "Notice of Motion"
or by "Request for Orders" application (RFO). These applications
to the court typically involve custody, visitation, child and spousal
support, attorney fees, temporary use and possession orders relating to
vehicles or homes, and orders protecting assets. These temporary order
hearing are often where much of the family court litigation experience
takes place because people in relationship transition tend to be at their
rawest, and a new family structure needs to be set up.
Ninety-Five Percent of Cases Settle
The goal is always to settle your case. A divorce is concluded by way of
a Judgment of Dissolution. In most cases that Judgment is based upon a
Marital Termination Agreement, which is a written contract between the
parties often facilitated by a lawyer or mediator. Once the document is
approved by the Court, it becomes a formal Court order and its terms must
be complied with.
Where some or all issues cannot be settled by agreement, a trial may have
to occur before a Family Court judge who will make rulings on each contested
matter. This is not necessarily your best divorce alternative. However,
it is usually necessary at the early stages of the break-up.
Most people think of divorces as enmeshed in conflict, but they don't
need to be.
Divorces can be satisfactorily managed if otherwise sane men and women choose not to battle over the smallest
of matters. High conflict divorce may cause persistent and lasting resentment
and strife, particularly with disputes involving
spousal and child support and
child custody. Yet it is possible to achieve a divorce agreement that works for you,
your spouse and your children.
When there is no way around a contested family law hearing, a balanced
presentation is the most appropriate way of obtaining sometimes needed
We wish to resolve our clients' family law matters with dignity. Palm
Springs domestic lawyer Thurman Arnold is experienced in divorce mediation
as well as in courtroom litigation. When necessary, he is a tough divorce
advocate. Three decades of legal experience informs our skill at protecting
Your initial consultation is free!
Dissolution Lawyers Serving Palm Springs and La Quinta, CA
Contact Palm Springs divorce attorneys Thurman W. Arnold, CFLS and Michael C. Peterson, CFLS!