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Divorce 101: What You Need to Know About California’s Law

Divorce is a huge life change for anyone to go through. Along with ending your marriage, you have several other decisions to make, including custody if you have children, property division, and spousal support. During this difficult time, it is essential to know your rights, your goals, and to find a knowledgeable family law attorney to help you find peace and stability.

Child Custody

According to California law, the court wants to understand what is in the child’s best interest when they determine a custody plan. By doing this, the court can develop a plan that will meet the needs of the child.

There are two types of custody in California - legal and physical.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to who has the right and responsibility to make crucial decisions for the child. This means the parent can make decisions about the following:

  • Health care

  • Religion

  • Education

  • Welfare

Both parents can share this responsibility through joint legal custody, or one parent can take on this role through sole legal custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to who the child resides with. A child can live with both of their parents if the custody order states they have joint physical custody. However, in this case, the child will most likely spend more time with one parent over the other as it is difficult to split time entirely in half for each parent.

Additionally, one parent can have sole physical custody, meaning the child only lives with one of their parents. If one parent is the primary custodial parent, the other will likely recieve visitation time with their child.

Visitation Agreements

A visitation agreement lays out a detailed plan on time-sharing so the child can see both parents. It should include details about who will spend time with the child during the week, the weekend, holidays, birthdays, and also how you will share essential decisions regarding the child’s health, welfare, and education.

The visitation plan should be clear and precise so that both parties know what is expected of them. The agreement should be explicit about who gets to make medical decisions and offer alternatives if changes occur in the original plan. A child custody attorney will be able to help if you cannot come up with an agreeable plan with your spouse.

Division of Property and Debt

One of the most contentious aspects of divorce is property division. Separating assets between two parties is often complicated, and if not done correctly, can result in hefty mistakes. It is in your best interest to consult with an Orange County divorce lawyer to guide you through the property division portion of your divorce.

In a California divorce or legal separation, property and debt must be split between spouses. This decision can be made amongst spouses, with assistance from a mediator or lawyer, or through the court. Regardless of how assets are split, the court requires there to be a formal order made.

California is a community property state, meaning everything that each party owns is included together. This is everything you bought or received while you were married. Additionally, community property includes debt. Assets that were a gift or inheritance are not included.

Alimony

When needed, alimony, or spousal support, may be issued by the court. This means one spouse is required to pay the other spouse with financial support for each month.

While the court does use a computer program to estimate alimony, the court is not required to follow its recommendations. That means a judge can order more or less, depending on individual circumstances. This is determined by an analysis that determines the standards of living during the marriage.

Alimony is a temporary order, and the lower-income spouse must work towards providing for themselves during the time alimony is ordered.

If you move in with or cohabitate with another significant other during the time alimony is being paid, then you may lose your right to alimony. If you marry said significant other, then alimony is cut off immediately.

Protect Your Best Interests

If you are considering divorce in California, it is in your best interest to contact an Orange County divorce lawyer. Because the process can quickly become confusing, a skilled divorce attorney will be able to provide you with sound guidance to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. At Moshtael Family Law Orange County, our team is dedicated to helping our clients.

If you have any specific questions or need help with your divorce, please call our Orange County divorce lawyers today at (714) 909-2561.

 

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