What’s the Legal Difference Between Annulment and Divorce?
AThere are two ways to legally end a marriage – annulment and divorce. An annulment is a legal procedure which cancels a marriage between spouses. Annulling a marriage is as though it is completely erased legally, it declares that the marriage never technically existed and was never valid. A divorce or legal dissolution of a marriage is the ending of a valid marriage between spouses returning both parties to single status with the ability to remarry.
Do I have to pay alimony in a divorce?
AAlimony is also referred to as spousal support in California. In most states in the U.S., spousal support is not mandatory. When the lower-earning spouse is in need of financial support from the higher-earner, California adopts the concept of Guideline Support. Specialized family law software programs are utilized by courts in generating a specified support amount based on relevant inputs. Spousal support can be temporary or permanent. Temporary support is paid to assist the supported spouse during the divorce. Meanwhile, permanent support is granted to ensure that after the divorce, the supported spouse can live at or near the “marital standard of living,” i.e., the financial standard of living established during the marriage. In another word, the law recognizes that neither spouse should be forced to have a drastically lower living standard due to the divorce. However, in granting permanent support, courts will consider many other factors. To illustrate, for short-term marriages of less than ten years, the support only lasts no longer than half the duration of the marriage. Permanent support can also be gradually reduced if the supported spouse is increasingly capable of self-support. Or if the spouses have reached an agreement in terms of spousal support, courts will turn the agreement into its order.
What is no-fault divorce?
ATraditionally, the only way to get a divorce was to prove that your spouse had done something that was officially recognized as a justification for divorce. In other words, your spouse had to be at fault in breaking up the marriage. The most common reasons were adultery, spouse abuse, being sentenced to prison for a felony, and insanity. This made it difficult to get a divorce, and a lot of time, effort, and money was spent proving that the other party was at fault. California has passed no-fault divorce laws to allow a divorce simply because at least one of the parties no longer wishes to be married.
How long does it take for a divorce to be final?
AUnder California Family Law, there is at least a six month waiting period after the initial divorce petition is filed and served on the other spouse before a divorce becomes final. However, the marriage is not finally dissolved, and the spouses may not re-marry, until after the waiting period.If a divorce cannot be resolved agreeably and requires litigation or a trial, it could take longer than six months to finalize.
Will I have to go to court at any time during my divorce?
A If the divorce is uncontested and a marital settlement agreement is filed, the spouses may not need to go to court. In that case, all legal documents can be filed with the court, and the judgment can be sent to you. Disputes regarding the division of property, child custody, spousal support or any other terms of the divorce do not automatically require court intervention. In many cases, they can be resolved through arbitration, mediation or third-party negotiation (such as an attorney).
When is a spouse eligible to receive spousal support?
AThe spouse in need of support will not automatically get spousal support upon separation or dissolution. In absence of a written agreement between the spouses or court rulings, the supported spouse must first file a motion with the Court requesting for an order on the issue. The Court will then conduct a hearing to adjudicate whether and how much the supported spouse is entitled to. In making the findings, the Court will mainly consider the parties’ economic status, including their income, earning capacity, and need for support. In addition, past domestic violence incidents can play a vital role in the Court’s determination of the amount of spousal support.
If the parents cannot agree on child custody and visitation issues, on what basis will the court decide?
AIn determining custody, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the child. The court shall assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of raising their children. As between the parents, there shall be no presumption or inference of law in favor of either.
Would I be entitled to a portion of my spouse’s retirement?
A Yes. Retirement accounts and the interests on the accounts accumulated throughout the marriage belong to both spouses and are community property subject to division at dissolution according to the state law.
What happens at a contested divorce hearing?
AUpon either spouse’s motion, the assigned judge will hear and rule on the contested matters typically related to child custody/visitation, child support, spousal support, property division, etc. Domestic violence and equitable division can be addressed in the proceedings as well. Generally, spouses or their attorneys will present their positions and arguments at the hearings. Often the judge will allow testimony from various witnesses such as the spouses, government employees, experts, and other individuals with relevant information. The judge’s decisions on the aforementioned matters are final and binding on all parties.



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