There are several different types of divorces in California among which couples can choose. The most standard variety is an ordinary no-fault divorce, which is generally available if at least one of the parties has resided in the state for six months or more and in the county where the petition is filed for three months or more. The spouses can be living together or separately at the time of seeking a divorce.
The person seeking to dissolve the marriage does not need to establish that the other person did something improper that caused the relationship to end. Instead, either spouse can file divorce papers on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences,” which just indicates that the couple could not get along. No additional reasons are needed for why the marriage should be terminated. However, improper behavior by a spouse may be considered when a court decides matters like spousal support, child custody, or child support.
Uncontested divorces sound straightforward in theory, but can often become complicated in high-asset dissolutions. This type of procedure may be an option if the parties are able to agree on terms regarding every aspect of their split, including property division, child custody, and other sensitive issues. It may be a more realistic solution for couples who do not have significant assets to divide between them. When business interests, retirement pensions, or substantial amounts of real estate are at stake, the complexity involved in determining each person’s rights may make it difficult to reach an agreement. Even if an uncontested divorce is right for you, it is a wise idea to seek the advice of a qualified divorce attorney to ensure you are not making a mistake in waiving any rights you may have.
Often called a “summary dissolution,” a simplified divorce is an easy way to end a marriage that did not last long. This option is only available in cases where the couple does not have children, real property, or substantial assets and debts. The idea behind this process is that there are very few potential complications in terms of how to divide property rights at the time of dissolution. After filing the appropriate paperwork for a simple divorce, the couple must wait for six months. Once this waiting period ends, the court will codify the divorce in a final judgment. Spouses who are successful professionals and have spent many years together, however, are more likely to pursue a standard type of divorce because they will have accumulated too many assets to be easily separated between them.
Erik C. Jenkins is a certified family law specialist practicing with the San Diego law firm of Jenkins, P.C.