The Law Office of Sara Colpitts
Family Law Practice
Mountain View Divorce Attorney
When people get married, they rarely think that a divorce might be in their future. Unfortunately, for many families it becomes a reality. Divorce might be a way out, but it is almost never an easy way out. In fact, these proceedings are now more complicated than ever. New laws are challenging old assumptions, as the California Family Code struggles to keep up with the changing nature of the American family.
Amidst all this uncertainty, a Mountain View divorce lawyer provides some stability for you and your changing family. Attorneys help you find your way through the minefield which is California family law. Attorneys can advise you about what to expect and how to prepare for issues like custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, and property division. Finally, only an experienced attorney gives you solid legal advice, so you can make the best possible choices.
Grounds for Divorce in California
Family laws are changing nationwide. However, not all of these changes made the law less complex. Grounds for divorce in California is one of the rare exceptions. In some states, divorce petitioners still have many options, including fault-based grounds like adultery and cruelty. But the only two grounds for divorce in California are:
Irreconcilable Differences: Almost all divorces in the Golden State are no-fault divorces. California is a trend-setter in this area. Basically, irreconcilable differences means the relationship has broken down and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation. More importantly, from an emotional standpoint, a no-fault divorce does not “blame” either spouse for this breakdown.
Permanent Incapacity: Many Mountain View divorce lawyers practice law for decades and never handle a single permanent incapacity divorce. They are incredibly rare. Usually, a doctor must certify that one spouse is permanently incapacitated, perhaps due to a brain injury or extremely serious illness. Even if a judge grants an incapacity divorce, the divorcing spouse must continue to financially support his/her ex-spouse.
Fault could still be relevant in the property division and parenting time division.
Property division, child support, and spousal support are the three primary financial issues in a California divorce.
Since California is a community property state, property division is normally straightforward. There is a strong presumption that jointly-owned property, such as a house, should always be divided 50-50. Nevertheless, some issues sometimes arise.
Property commingling is one example. Assume Wife owned a tenant-less rental house when she married Husband. Husband invests some money he saved prior to the marriage into the house. Soon, the house is occupied steadily.
The house was clearly Wife’s separate property when the couple exchanged vows. Depending on the subsequent facts, at the time of their divorce, the house could be community property subject to division, with Wife having some separate property interest or Wife’s separate property, with Husband having a reimbursement claim for his separate property contribution. The classification of future rental income is up in the air as well.
Child support is normally straightforward, as well. Typically, the child support guidelines dictate the amount of support. Several factors go into the guidelines, such as the number of children, the parenting time division, and the income of both parents. Rarely a judge may deviate from the guidelines. Examples include a child’s special medical, educational, or other needs. Additionally, the guidelines are only presumptively reasonable if the parents’ income is below a certain level.
Spousal Support is different. Both the amount and duration of payments are based on a number of factors, including:
Relative future earning capacity of the spouses,
Length of the marriage,
Separate property awards,
Standard of living during the marriage, and
Any noneconomic contributions to the relationship.
During the pendency of the divorce, temporary support may be ordered. Temporary support is ordered to allow the parties to maintain the status quo, until a final determination of support is made. At the conclusion of the divorce, permanent or long-term support may be ordered. A judge will use the above factors to determine spousal support. In a short term marriage, a marriage under 10 years, judges typically award support for half the length of the marriage. In a long term marriage, over 10 years, there is no end date.
The emotional issues in a divorce case usually involve the custody and visitation of the parties’ minor children. There are numerous custody schedules. What is best for a very young child, may not be ideal for an older child.
The best interest of the children control the parenting time division. California child custody law requires that the children have continuing contact with both parents and to share the rights and responsibilities of raising the children, unless it’s not in the children’s best interest.
Reach Out to an Experienced Santa Clara County Lawyer
Divorce involves some very complex emotional and financial issues. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Mountain View divorce lawyer, contact the Law Office of Sara Colpitts. We routinely handle matters throughout the Bay Area.