The Law Offices of Jasmine Davaloo
Termination of Marriage
Terminating a marriage or a domestic partnership in California can be a complicated, long, and emotional process. You must begin the process with a clear knowledge of your options to decide what is best for you. This is not an easy task. You should consult with an attorney with experience and knowledge about the law and court procedures to learn about your rights and potential obligations, and to properly strategize your case.
Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)
The California Family Code refers to divorce as “dissolution of marriage.” California is a “no fault” divorce state, meaning that, in order to obtain a divorce, the spouse petitioning the court does not have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong. One can obtain a divorce based on a simple statement that they can no longer continue with the marital relationship — legally termed as “irreconcilable differences.” Although there are other grounds for getting a divorce, such as incurable insanity, bigamy, and fraud, in almost all cases, the grounds are simply stated as “irreconcilable differences.”
In addition, it is not necessary for both spouses or domestic partners to agree to get a divorce. Even if the other spouse chooses not to participate in the divorce case, or is even against getting a divorce, the petitioning spouse can still obtain a divorce.
In California, the court cannot terminate marital status until 6 months and 1 day from the date the petition for divorce is personally served on the other party. However, this 6 months and 1 day period only applies to the termination of marital status — that is, for the parties to restore to the status of “single”. All issues, such as child custody or spousal support, can be completed much sooner than the end of this period.
There are different types of divorce processes parties may take depending on their level of participation and ability to work together to resolve their issues out of court. These include:
True Default - The responding party fails to appear in the action;
Default by Agreement - The responding party does not make an appearance in the action, but the parties reach a settlement out of court;
Uncontested - Both parties appear in the action and reach a settlement out of court;
Contested - The parties litigate their issues in court and the judicial officer makes a ruling.
Some couples choose legal separation over a divorce. A fundamental difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that a legal separation does NOT end your marriage. You will continue to retain your “married” status at the end of the action. There may be advantages or disadvantages depending on each couple’s situation. Before deciding which is the right option for you, you should consult with an attorney.
Additionally, a common misconception is that legal separation is the same as parties separating from each other. These are two very different concepts.
An annulment is a court procedure that invalidates a marriage as though it never happened. Some grounds for annulment are incest, bigamy, fraud, unsound mind, force, pre-existing marriage or domestic partnership, age, and physical incapacity.
While with divorce or legal separation there is no time limit, there are deadlines when seeking an annulment. Obtaining an annulment in California is a more complex legal procedure. You are encourage to consult with an experienced attorney evaluate the best strategy for you.