Frequently Asked Questions
A prenuptial agreement is a form of contract that a couple enters into prior to their marriage that outlines the terms of divorce in the event of dissolution. A postnuptial agreement is similar in nature, but is created after the marriage takes place. Both types of agreements, assuming they are drafted correctly, can help protect each party’s best interests if divorce occurs.
There are three primary ways to end a marriage (or registered domestic partnership) in the state California. This includes annulment, legal separation, and divorce. Either spouse or partner can make the decision to end a marriage, and the other spouse/partner cannot stop the process by refusing to participate. If a spouse or domestic partner does not participate in the divorce case, the other spouse/partner will still be able to get a “default” judgment.
California is considered a “no fault” divorce state, which simply means that the spouse/r domestic partner that is asking for the divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse or domestic partner did something wrong. To obtain a no fault divorce, one spouse/domestic partner has to state that the couple cannot get along. The legal term for this is “irreconcilable differences.”
Judges in California must consider the best interests of the children in reaching a conclusion about custody of the children and how parents will potentially share time with the children. Parents begin with equal rights to custody; a judge is not permitted to show preference to either parent simply based upon the parent’s sex. In determining the child’s best interests, California law specifies two guiding principles: 1) that the health, safety, and welfare of children must be a court’s primary concern, and 2) children benefit from frequent and continued contact with both parents.
The property and debts portion of a divorce or legal separation is often very complicated. Basically, when a couple gets divorced or legally separated, the court makes decisions about how to divide the property and assets that the spouses/domestic partners bought during the marriage. Even if you divided your property informally when you separated, the court still needs to make a formal order about these issues.