Divorce is notorious for being a stressful event, especially because it means
a person’s life is turned upside-down; however, we must remember
the old saying, “Knowledge is power,” and this certainly applies
to the divorce process. If you’re planning on filing for divorce,
our advice is to educate yourself on California’s divorce laws as
they pertain to child custody and support,
spousal support, asset and debt division.
To help shorten the learning curve, we have compiled a list of frequently
asked questions and answers about a California divorce. For further information,
we invite you to contact our firm directly to schedule a free consultation
with an experienced and compassionate member of our legal team.
1. Is California an equitable division state?
No, it is not. California is one of a handful of states, including Nevada
and Texas among others that follows the
community property model of distribution. Under California’s community
property law, divorcing spouses are entitled to half of the marital property acquired
during the course of the marriage.
2. Is spousal support automatic in a CA divorce?
Spousal support is not automatically awarded in a California divorce;
it is awarded on a case-by-case basis. If the lower-earning spouse is
requesting spousal support and the higher-earning spouse does not want
to pay it, a judge will have to decide whether or not support should be awarded.
If spousal support is awarded by a judge, it’s typically awarded
for one-half the length of the marriage, unless the marriage lasted 10
or more years. In the case of a long-term marriage (one lasting at least
10 years), spousal support may be set without an end date, but it is subject to
modification or termination at a later date depending on the circumstances.
3. Does cheating bar a spouse from receiving alimony?
California is a
no-fault divorce state. This means that a judge will not be interested in hearing evidence of
adultery, and an affair will not terminate an unfaithful spouse’s
right to alimony, otherwise known as spousal support.
4. Can cheating affect child custody?
Cheating does not normally affect
child custody; however, in some egregious (severe) cases, it can have an effect on custody.
For example, if while married, a woman left her children home alone overnight
repeatedly (while her husband was away on business or working a late shift)
so she could stay at her boyfriend’s house, this could sway a judge
to give primary custody of the children to the father. Essentially, if
a cheating spouse neglected their children or put their safety at risk
to have an affair, it could affect child custody decisions.
5. How long do I have to pay child support for?
In California, non-custodial parents pay
child support until their children turn 18 or graduate high school, whichever happens later.
6. What if I don’t pay child support?
If you are ordered to pay child support and you fall behind, several bad
things can happen: 1) your driver’s license can be suspended, 2)
your wages can be garnished, 3) your bank account can be levied, 4) you
could be denied a U.S. passport, 5) your tax refund can be intercepted,
and 6) you could lose any lottery winnings, etc.
We hope this list of FAQs answers some of your questions about divorce.
To learn more about the divorce process in San Diego,
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP today!