Making the decision to divorce your spouse can be difficult, but navigating the procedure in family court can be nearly impossible without an attorney. To help you understand the fundamentals before calling an attorney for a free consultation we’ll review the basic requirements and nature of contested divorce in California.
To begin, California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that a person filing a petition for divorce can list the grounds as irreconcilable differences. This means that both parties agree that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage and future efforts at reconciliation would not be in the best interests of the family. This is the most common basis for divorce in California.
However, in California there is an additional reason for divorce. Although rarely used, incurable insanity is also grounds for divorce. As you can imagine, a person using these grounds must provide medical proof that their spouse is medically insane. Because this is a serious claim, describing examples of your spouse’s “crazy” behavior to a family law judge is not sufficient. The proof must also indicate that there is no cure for their insanity. A family law attorney can give you specific information on how to get the medical verification needed for a divorce on the grounds of insanity.
In addition to filing your divorce on either of the grounds available in California, the spouse filing for divorce must also have lived in the State of California for at least 6-months and the County of filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage for at least 90-days. Therefore, if you married out of state you can file your petition in California.
When these requirements are met the process of filing the divorce begins with the filing and serving of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and a Summons by a sheriff or a special process server. You cannot serve the petition to your spouse. It is also best left to a neutral third-party, not a friend or relative. This may cause additional bad feelings that might complicate the divorce or marital separation.
What it Means to Have a Contested Divorce
Contested divorce does not necessarily mean that one person in the marriage wants to fight to remain married. When one person decides to divorce, they will be awarded a divorce, regardless of how the other spouse feels about the marriage. Divorces ends up in one of two ways: contested or by agreement.
Contested divorces happen when the spouses do not agree to the reasons for the divorce or what to do about their joint assets, child custody or other issues. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, the family law judge will make a determination at or after a hearing. This type of divorce will be costly and will take a lot of time, so it is recommended to attempt an amicable divorce or negotiate a marital settlement agreement.
An amicable divorce or no-fault divorce is a process by which both spouses decide to avoid costly and painful litigation. They compromise and reach an agreement on all the issues surrounding their divorce. However, no fault amicable divorce is not always possible. In such an event it is best to seek representation from an affordable family law attorney. In some cases, attorney fees can be reimbursed to one spouse.