It might surprise you to learn how much time, money and planning couples commit to making their wedding day a success. Even with all of that planning, a successful wedding does not guarantee a successful marriage. You may still become one of the 40 to 50% of couples in the United States that eventually divorce.
No one expects their marriage to come to an end, but it’s a good idea to have at least some basic knowledge of the issues related to an ending marriage, the process for obtaining a divorce and how a divorce attorney could be a valuable source of guidance and information. Here are five things you should know about getting a divorce that could help make the process less stressful.
The grounds are the same, but divorce and separation are different
Couples sometimes reach a point in their marriage when they need time away from each other, but they do not want to end the marriage. A divorce is a formal legal process that culminates with a judgement terminating the marriage. A legal separation is when parties separate but remain legally married.
Laws pertaining to divorce and legal separation differ from one state to another. California, for instance, requires the parties to demonstrate a reason for why a divorce has become necessary.
California has only two grounds for divorce and separation:
- Irreconcilable differences that have caused a breakdown of the marriage and which cannot be remedied.
- Proof that one of the parties is legally incapable of making decisions and that the condition is permanent.
Couples might opt for a separation instead of a divorce if they want time apart to sort out the reasons for the breakdown in the marriage, or because a divorce might be contrary to their religious beliefs.
Residency requirements affect your ability to file for divorce
States have residency requirements that you must meet in order to file for a divorce. Specifically, you or your spouse must reside in California for at least six months before you can file for divorce in the state and at least three months in the county in which you intend to file. It is not necessary for both of you to reside in the state if at least one of you has been a state resident for a minimum of six months.
Fault versus No-Fault divorce – What’s the difference?
Unlike California, some states require the party seeking a divorce to prove their spouse was at fault in causing the breakup of the marriage. Adultery and abandonment are examples of fault grounds for a divorce. A party being sued in a fault state could contest the divorce to force their spouse to prove that grounds exist.
WHAT IS AT STAKE?
While California does not require proof of fault to obtain a divorce, this does not mean that California cases differ regarding the issues in dispute. A divorce could be contested over issues unrelated to the grounds, such as:
· Child custody and parenting time
· Child support
· Spousal support
· Division of assets and debts
A divorce might start out as being contested until the attorneys representing each of the parties negotiate a resolution to the financial and child-related issues that were in dispute.
Gathering records before filing for divorce
The financial aspects of a divorce, including support and asset distribution, depend upon documentation proving ownership and acquisition dates of assets, income, debts and other issues. It is a good idea to gather records and put them in a safe place to ensure they are available even before you go to speak with a lawyer about filing for a divorce.
It’s a good idea to seek assistance from an attorney
You may not need a lawyer to file for a divorce, but it is a good idea to at least speak with a divorce lawyer to ensure that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. A consultation with an attorney experienced in family law and divorce can provide you with legal advice and guidance to avoid mistakes that could affect your relationship with your children and your financial security in the future.
Steve has been writing legal-centric articles for several years now. He started working with the family law attorney law firm Herrig & Vogt in 2019 as the Content Marketing Manager, which has allowed him to expand on his writing in personal injury, family law, and much more. Steve strives to offer the public advice on various laws covering a variety of practices.