California Divorce Lawyers Serving Northern California

  • Pakpour Banks LLP is based in Davis, CA, and is proudly serving Davis, Woodland, Sacramento, West Sacramento, Vacaville, Dixon, Fairfield, Roseville, Elk Grove, and surrounding areas.
  • Our team has been successfully representing cases in Yolo County, Sacramento County, Solano County, Placer County, Colusa County, El Dorado County, and Yuba County.

Ending a marriage in California, or any state, has the reputation of being a notoriously long and hard process. While divorce, annulment, and legal separation aren’t ideal options, we strive to make them less painful for our clients. At Pakpour Banks LLP, our California divorce lawyers get quick and significant results for clients facing ending marriages. We can help you get results in your family law case as well. 

How Do You End a Marriage?

In California, there are typically three ways to end your ongoing marital relationship:


A divorce case handled by a lawyer in California.

Divorce, or what is professionally called “dissolution,” is the garden-variety family law case. The effect of a divorce is that the parties are considered single – or no longer legally married – under the law and may therefore re-marry at their leisure.

When you talk with a California divorce lawyer, you will discuss several kinds of divorces. For example, one distinction is whether the divorce is amicable or not. When a California divorce attorney says “amicable,” they typically mean to ask whether you and the other party can go through the legal process and reach an agreement without litigation. This is normally an uncontested divorce. Oftentimes, this is impossible, and you may have to have a more hostile contested divorce.

Contested divorces happen for many reasons. You may have just told the other party you are getting a divorce and your partner is still fighting to accept the reality of the situation. There may be significant financial assets at stake that you or the other party plan to fight over. If you have children, you and the other party may have drastically different ideas about the appropriate child custody arrangement.

There is no doubt about it: an amicable divorce is the least expensive, least contentious type. Pakpour Banks LLP can assist you with your amicable divorce by explaining your rights and responsibilities, and taking care of the necessary paperwork. In many cases, you and the other party will never have to walk into a courthouse at all.

Other times, you and the other party cannot reach an agreement, and your issues will need to be decided by a judge. You are not alone. It is at this critical juncture that your legal interests are in their greatest jeopardy. Also, some divorces can demand extra-legal attention.

Military Divorce

If you or your spouse is in the military, we thank you for your service. We also imagine you might have questions about military divorces. Common obstacles you might face with a military divorce can include jurisdiction issues or relocation assignments. 

California has jurisdiction over your divorce if: 

  • You are a resident of California;
  • Your spouse is a resident of California; or 
  • The military stationed you or your spouse in California.

A California resident is someone who has lived in the state for at least six months. 

If you and your ex-spouse have a child custody order in place and you have to relocate for service purposes, the court might temporarily modify your custody order. The modification can accommodate the requirements of your military service. You can also ask the court to grant visitation rights to other family members to help keep you connected with your child while you’re away. 

If you’re away on military duty, we know you’re quite busy. Our knowledgeable California divorce attorneys can handle your divorce-related concerns while you serve our country. 

Same-Sex Divorce 

If you’re in a same-sex marriage or a registered domestic partnership, you might be able to get a summary dissolution. A summary dissolution can be quicker and easier than a typical divorce. However, your marriage or domestic partnership must qualify for this process. You’re not eligible for summary dissolution if you and your spouse own high-value property, have a lot of debt, or can’t agree on how to split your assets and debt. Additionally, you can’t participate in a summary dissolution if your marriage and the domestic partnership lasted for a long time. But if you successfully file for summary dissolution, your divorce can be final in a little over six months. That’s a significantly shorter time than many other divorces.

Legal Separation: Divorce should be distinguished from legal separation, in which two parties remain legally married, but decide for one reason or another that they can no longer live together, or continue a marital relationship. The upshot is that, once you are legally separated, you are not single, meaning you cannot legally marry another individual.

There are two typical reasons parties opt for legal separation over dissolution. First, some individuals hold religious beliefs or convictions that frown upon divorce. Therefore, to accomplish an amicable living situation without the cultural stigma of divorce, those individuals may file for legal separation instead of dissolution. The other typical reason for choosing legal separation is the ability to cover one’s spouse as a beneficiary under the other party’s health insurance plan. Where parties agree to live separately and apart, yet wish to maintain health insurance for one another, and neither plans to remarry anytime soon, this can be an attractive option. Be aware, however, that some insurance providers have caught on to this arrangement and have made it a policy to reject the spouses of policyholders who are legally separated. Refer to your plan’s administrator for guidance.


Nullity: The final way to end one’s marriage to another living individual is through a nullity proceeding. In a nullity, the Petitioner argues that the marriage was either void from the start and unrecognizable by law, or that the marriage was voidable under certain grounds. For example, one cannot be simultaneously married to two people in California.

If one discovered that his or her spouse was married to another individual at the time of his or her marriage, the later marriage would be void as a matter of law because it violates the state laws against bigamy. Incest is another ground for a “void” marriage. Contrast this with so-called “voidable” marriages: Those that may be voided by one or both parties on certain grounds. One typical ground for a nullity is a fraud, which is the inducement of one to marry based on a lie. For example, if a man told a woman he wanted to marry her so that the two could have children, and the woman failed to reveal she knew that she was clinically unable to bear children, the husband may have grounds for a nullity. We say “may,” because nullities are not slam dunks. The judge must make the call over whether the act constituted fraud or other grounds for a voidable marriage.

Self-help tip: Because of the difficulty proving fraud, or voidable marriage, litigants are highly encouraged to request both divorce and nullity. That way, if the judge denies the nullity, they may still grant the divorce. They cannot grant the divorce, however, if the litigant never requested it.

Divorces and legal separations often become hostile over finances. A lot of this has to do with the way California family law normally divides couples’ assets. If you’re dealing with a high-net-worth divorce, the process of dividing assets could be even more complicated and contentious. This is because it can be hard to identify and categorize the property in your or your spouse’s large portfolio. 

The Court Generally Divides Community Property Down the Middle

California is famously a community property state. This means that the court often equally divides property acquired and debts incurred during a separating or divorcing couple’s marriage. Gifts and inheritance aren’t part of community property. 

Divorcing and Separating Spouses Normally Get to Keep Their Separate Property

In a divorce or legal separation, you get to keep your separate property. This is property from before your marriage or after filing to divorce or separate. However, if you commingle your separate property with community assets, your spouse could receive part of your separate property. This can easily happen if you ever let your spouse make payments on your separate property during the marriage. Also, it’s virtually impossible to avoid commingling if you have a pension. This is because the pension contributions you make during your marriage are community property. 

Sometimes properly identifying and valuing community property is an incredibly complex process. Don’t do this math and legal work by yourself—you’re likely to make a painful mistake during this already painful time. Our California divorce attorneys can help maximize your divorce settlement, and you can take more time to heal from the breakup. 

Hire a California Divorce Attorney Who Knows How to Win What’s Best for Your Family, Finances, and Peace of Mind

There’s rarely any way around it: Divorce is hard. But at Pakpour Banks LLP, our California divorce lawyer make it a priority to get you the best divorce settlement while engaging in as little confrontation and litigation as possible. We also know how to fight when necessary. We know these are delicate times. We have the tools to win what you need without the heightened hostility or expense associated with so many divorce cases. It doesn’t matter if your divorce case is simple or complex—we can help you move on. We have experience, we are cost-effective, and we are compassionate. Our California divorce attorneys also have a passion for giving back to our community.

We also handle other types of family legal issues, including:

If you need help, don’t hesitate to call us or contact us online.

Our firm speaks Spanish.