About Divorce, Summary Dissolution, and Legal Separation


Divorce: In California, a divorce (also called "dissolution of marriage" or "dissolution of domestic partnership") ends your marriage or domestic partnership. The ending result of a divorce is that you will be single and you can marry again or you become a domestic partner again.

A divorce is warranted when a party to the marriage has "irreconcilable differences" with the other spouse. Furthermore, no one has to give the Court any other reason or prove anything. There is no "guilty" or "non-guilty" spouse, from the Court’s perspective, making California a "no-fault" divorce state. As such, the focus of the Court is issuing a ruling, called a Judgment that contains Court Orders, that are fair from the Court’s perspective and follows Family Law statutes.

Either spouse can decide to end the marriage, and the other spouse, even if he or she does not want to get a divorce, cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case. If a spouse does not participate in the divorce case, the other spouse will still be able to get a "default" judgment and the divorce will go through.

Summary Dissolution: Some couples have only been married for less than 5 years. For those couples, they can ask for a "summary dissolution" as long as they also meet other requirements. Those requirements include: (1) both parties sign a joint Petition for dissolution of marriage, (2) the couple has no children born of the marriage, (3) the couple has not adopted any children while married, (4) there is no present pregnancy, (5) neither party of the marriage owns or has any interest in real property, (6) the total assets, not counting automobiles, acquired during marriage can not exceed $40,000, (7) the total debts acquired during marriage can not exceed $6,000, and (8) neither party of the marriage has pre-marital assets worth more that $40,000. With a summary dissolution, there is no trial or hearing.

California Residency Requirements: For a spouse to file for divorce, either one of the spouses of the marriage must have (1) lived in the State of California for at least six (6) months and (2) lived in the county for at least three (3) months before filing for divorce. If a spouse wants to start their divorce in one county in California but does not meet residency requirements, he or she can file for a legal separation and then amend their Petition to ask for divorce after they meet the California residency requirements.

Legal Separation: In California, instead of a divorce a married couple can get a legal separation. Typically, a party to a marriage seeks a legal separation rather than a divorce because of cultural or religious reasons. A legal separation does not end a marriage. As such, someone who is legally separated cannot marry or enter into a partnership with someone else. But, those persons who are Legally Separated can decide for themselves issues about money, where they want to live, and all property issues. A spouse does not need to meet California's residency requirement to file for a legal separation. And, if a spouse files for a legal separation then the filing spouse, or even the other spouse, may later be able to file an amended Petition to ask the Court for a divorce if the California residency requirements are satisfied. Furthermore. The process of obtaining a Legal Separation is identical to the process for obtaining a divorce.

Minimum Process Time: Because of the State of California’s mandatory waiting period, the divorce, summary dissolution, and legal separation process will take at least six months from the date the person filing for divorce officially lets his or her spouse know about the divorce. Of course, the process can take longer, and it typically does.

Issues To Resolve in a Divorce: When a Divorce or Legal Separation is commenced, the Court can resolve the following issues: (1) Custody and Visitation, (2) Child Support, (3) Spousal Support, (4) the Division of the Property (real or personal) of the marriage, (5) the Division of the Debt and Obligations of the marriage, and (6) attorney fees. In addition, there are many other domestic issues that the Court can resolve or that can be resolved outside of Court by attorneys.

What Nakos & Nakos Can Do For You: The divorce process involves many forms and legal requirements. You don’t want to make a mistake filling the forms out or skip a required step. If you choose to prepare the forms yourself, we can review them for you before you file them so that you are assured that you are filing the correct forms and filling them out in such a way as to preserve your rights. Or, we can prepare the forms for you so that you are assured they are prepared right. In addition, we can represent you through the entire divorce or legal separation process, guiding you towards getting the results you want.