divorce attorney in Davis

Ending a marriage is one of the most challenging decisions a spouse can make. In addition to emotional turmoil, you may have heard that divorce can be a lengthy and costly process. In Davis, California, every divorce has its own difficulties, costs, and timelines.  

During this stressful process, you need compassionate and caring Davis divorce lawyers. You need an ally who believes in healing families, even during a divorce. At Pakpour Banks LLP, we understand that ending a marriage is already a painful prospect. Thus, we strive to make the divorce process as painless as possible. We fight for our clients to get the results they need, which can help them heal and rebuild their lives. Contact us today.

Types of Divorces in California

California’s different types of divorce or marriage dissolutions fall under different legal definitions.

Grounds for Divorce 

You must have a legal reason or “ground” for a divorce in California. California’s default divorce is based on “irreconcilable differences.” This means neither party is at fault for the end of the marriage. Typically, this is the most painless method to use when filing for divorce.

Another ground for divorce in California is a spouse’s permanent legal incapacity. To use this as your grounds for divorce, you must prove that your spouse can’t legally make decisions. Typically, you can prove incapacity through medical testimony. 

Void or Null Marriage

Under California law, there are reasons why a marriage may be legally voidable or not valid at all. For example, if one spouse was already married to someone else, then the second marriage cannot legally exist. Grounds to void or nullify a marriage include:

  • Bigamy;
  • Incest;
  • Unsound mind;
  • When married, either spouse was not of age to legally consent to marriage;
  • Fraud;
  • Force; or
  • Physical incapacity.

Getting a nullification is not easy. You must prove your case before a judge. Speak with our Davis divorce attorneys if you are considering voiding or nullifying your marriage.

What Happens in a Divorce

A divorce proceeding addresses several family law matters. First, a court will decide on the legal dissolution of the marriage. Next, the parties will negotiate the terms of the divorce. This includes the following:

  • The division of marital assets and debts,
  • Child custody and visitation,
  • Child support, and
  • Spousal support.

The court will decide if the parties do not agree on how to resolve these matters. 

Property Division

California is a community property state. This means that both spouses jointly own all property acquired by each spouse during the marriage. Community property includes income, property, retirement plans, pensions, and community debts. There are exceptions to joint ownership, such as property one spouse receives as a gift or inheritance or property that one spouse held before the marriage. 

In a divorce, the spouses keep their separate property and equally divide their community property. However, it’s rarely as easy as it sounds. Your spouse may have taken on debt you were unaware of, or you may disagree on which of your assets qualifies as separate property. You should speak with a Davis divorce attorney before you agree to property division.

Spousal Support

One spouse may have to pay the other spousal support, or alimony, if one of the spouse’s income is significantly less than the other’s or if one spouse stays home to care for the children. A judge uses several factors to determine spousal support, such as:

  • The length of the marriage, 
  • Each spouse’s income and earning capacity,
  • Each spouse’s educational and employment history, and
  • How caring for the children impacts each spouse’s ability to work.

Spousal support can be temporary and last only while the divorce is pending. Or, it can be permanent and last until a future date that the court or parties decide upon. For example, the judge could rule that one spouse pays alimony until the recipient spouse remarries. 

Child Custody and Support 

If the spouses share children, the parties must also reach a child custody and child support agreement. Parents can agree to various forms of custody, such as joint physical custody or one parent with primary custody and the other with specified visitation rights. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, a court will decide custody based on various factors. But in decisions concerning a child, the overriding concern is protecting the child’s best interest. 

Courts use a formula to determine child support. The formula mainly depends on who has primary custody of the children and the income differences between the parents. 

The Court Procedure for a Divorce

A divorce is a court case and must go through the judicial process. 

Every case goes through a somewhat different process. For example, some spouses quickly negotiate a divorce and have few disagreements over the distribution of property or child custody, etc. This is called an uncontested divorce, and these tend to resolve the quickest. 

However, in contested divorces, spouses may agree to the divorce but disagree on one or more other issues—like property division or child custody. A court may send the spouses to mediation, where a neutral third party will try to help the spouses come to an out-of-court resolution. The case will go to trial if the mediation fails or the spouses do not otherwise agree to the divorce terms. Then, a court will decide each of the outstanding issues.

Starting a Divorce

Any divorce starts with proper jurisdiction, meaning a divorce must be initiated in the right state and the right county. To file for divorce in California, you or your spouse has to have lived in the state for six months or longer. And when it comes to the county where you file for divorce, at least one spouse has to have lived in the county for at least three months. When you know which court is the correct venue for your divorce, you can initiate your case by completing and filing a Petition for Divorce, a Summons, and a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (if you have children with your spouse). 

In many cases, your completed forms must be personally served on your spouse. To have your documents personally served, you must have an appropriate party deliver them to your spouse and fill out a proof of service form that you must file with the court. An appropriate party is anyone who is at least 18 and is not part of your divorce case. Many parties use a professional process server or the sheriff to serve their divorce papers. Your spouse has 30 days to respond to your divorce filing.   

Resolving Your Issues in Your Divorce Case

After opening your divorce case, you and your spouse must exchange financial information, such as:

  • Pay stubs,
  • Bank statements,
  • Property titles and leases, 
  • Credit card statements,
  • Tax returns, 
  • Investment statements,
  • Mortgage documents,
  • Retirement account statements, and 
  • Any other documents reflecting your debts and assets. 

After collecting the above information that is applicable to your case, you and your spouse need to fill out Declarations of Disclosure, Income and Expense Declarations, Property Declarations, and Schedules of Assets and Debts to deliver to each other. Once you have delivered this information to your spouse, you must let the court know by filing a Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure

To resolve your case, you and your spouse can write out an agreement that covers property division, child support, and child custody. But if you and your spouse cannot agree on all divorce terms, you can go to trial and have the court decide. 

Finalizing Your Divorce

After making agreements or attending a hearing and exchanging the proper documents with your spouse, it’s time to finalize your divorce. You will likely have to fill out and submit several forms to the court. These forms could include: 

  • Judgment;
  • Notice of Entry of Judgment;
  • Earnings Assignment Order for Spousal or Partner Support;
  • Spousal or Domestic Partner Support Factors Under Family Code Section 4320-Attachment;
  • Spousal, Partner, or Family Support Order Attachment; and
  • Property Order Attachment to Judgment. 

You may have additional obligations at this stage of your divorce case. Reaching out to the county court clerk or consulting one of our experienced divorce lawyers in Davis will help you know what additional obligations you may have. In general, when your divorce case is complete, the court will send you a Notice of Entry of Judgment marked “filed.”  

Collaborative Divorce

You can also get a divorce outside of the normal court process. In a collaborative divorce, the spouses negotiate a divorce outside of the judicial process with the help of specially-trained collaborative Davis divorce attorneys. The spouses and their lawyers meet to discuss terms and may even bring in experts to help with child custody or property division. If you would like to pursue a collaborative divorce, contact the collaborative Davis divorce lawyers at Pakpour Banks LLP today.

Legal Separation 

A legal separation is similar to a divorce except for one crucial aspect: You remain married. Like divorce, you must go through a judicial process to file for legal separation. The spouses must agree on the division of property, child custody, and spousal and child support. Otherwise, the court will decide. If you are considering a legal separation, you should speak with one of our Davis divorce lawyers

Contact Our Davis Divorce Attorneys Today

If you want an experienced divorce attorney in Davis, CA, who understands the importance of compassion and healing during this difficult time, contact Pakpour Banks LLP. We don’t litigate a case just to litigate. We keep our clients needs central to our representation and only take cases to trial when it’s necessary to preserve your rights. Contact us today. Se habla español.

Our firm handles other types of cases as well, including:

FAQs

Is the Division of Community Property in a Divorce Always Equal?

Not always. The default in California is to distribute community property equally between the spouses. However, spouses who agree to the terms of property division can allot more assets to one of the spouses if they think the division is fair. 

How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?

At a minimum, you must wait six months before your divorce can be finalized in California. Depending on the facts of your case, your divorce could take longer. The complexity of your child custody needs, the amount of property you and your spouse own, or an inability for you and your spouse to agree on divorce terms can prolong your case. 

How Much Does Filing for a Divorce Cost?

The filing fee to start a divorce case in California is between $435 and $450.

What If I Cannot Afford the Filing Fee to Initiate a Divorce?

If you don’t have the funds to cover the filing fee for a divorce petition, you can ask the court to waive the filing fee. When filing a request for a fee waiver, you will likely need to review many of your financial documents, such as pay stubs, tax returns, and public benefit information. 

What Can I Do If My Spouse Files for Divorce at a Court That Is Inappropriate?

If there is another court that could have jurisdiction over your case that would be more appropriate for you or your family, you can ask the court to transfer you to a different jurisdiction by filing a Motion to Change Venue. 

What If I Cannot Find My Spouse for Personal Service?

You may have the option of serving your spouse by publication. This involves publishing your divorce filings in a newspaper where your spouse likely is. To complete service by publication, you typically must publish your filings for four weeks.