Finding the right person to marry is a goal many hope to accomplish. Despite the best intentions, however, a marriage can end for any number of reasons. Sometimes the couple drifts apart or the relationship is beyond repair. Whatever the reason, the dissolution of a marriage can be an emotional and complicated situation.
Whether you are the one who asked for the divorce or the decision was mutual, you may have questions and concerns about what happens next. The legality regarding a divorce can impact for years to come; therefore, it’s important to gain information you can trust. A Riverside-San Bernardino lawyer can help by answering the pertinent questions.
One of the most difficult parts of ending a marriage is the effect on the children. Both parents typically want close contact with their children, and learning how to share parenting time can be difficult. Important matters need to be sorted through regarding child custody and child support.
Ideally, the parents will decide and agree on a custody plan. In some instances, however, an agreement on how much time the children will spend with each parent can’t be reached. A judge has the ability to intervene and rule on what is in the best interests of the children.
The parents might be asked to speak with a counselor, appointed by the court, to facilitate a parenting plan. If this proves futile, the judge can make the choice and award either joint or sole custody.
It’s possible to get an idea what the financial contribution will be each month for child support by using the state of California’s government website.. The court will, however, need to approve the amount to make it final. There are many variables involved in the formula to calculate child support including:
- The total time spent caring for the children, specifically, physical custody
- The disposable income of each parent
- The expenses of each parent
The court will determine the disposable income of each parent by subtracting paid taxes, union dues and health premiums, among other expenses.
Property division, second to determining child custody, can be a stressful process. In Riverside-San Bernardino, as in the rest of California, property is divided into two categories: community and separate. Debts and assets acquired during the marriage are most often considered community property.
Division Of Property
Debt that may be considered separate, not community, is a school loan. Items that were given as gifts to one person in the marriage, but not to the couple as a whole, are separate property. Other examples of separate property might include an inheritance or property bought before the marriage or after the separation date. Separate property is not divided upon the dissolution of marriage.
Dividing possessions and assets can be tricky when separate property has been mixed with community property; therefore, seeking legal representation is advised. The assets and debts which are commonly divided include:
- Retirement assets
- Property and business investments
- Automobiles, boats and planes
- Collectible items such as baseball cards and artwork
- Household items such as furniture and clothing, among other property
- Bank accounts, stocks and bonds
- Credit card debt, among other liabilities
If a person agrees to pay for something considered community debt, such as a credit card balance, but files for bankruptcy or stops paying, the other spouse could still be held accountable for the money owed.
Splitting couples have options other than divorce, such as legal separation, annulment and alternative dispute resolution. It’s important to know all the choices in order to make the decision that works for you and your family. In California, there are only two grounds for divorce – irreconcilable differences and, although more rare, incurable insanity.
Being legally separated from someone is very similar to dissolving the marriage, except that you remain married. The same issues are addressed, such as custody, child support and division of property. People may choose to legally separate rather than divorce for religious, emotional and financial reasons.
Legal separation may be a way to decide if a divorce is what you really want to do. It could also be for those who still love one another, but can’t live together. Additionally, there are many potential financial advantages to legally separating rather than divorcing, such as retaining certain military benefits your spouse carries, remaining on your spouse’s insurance plan and reaping the benefits of a joint tax return.
Another way to end a marriage is by filing an annulment. In an annulment, the marriage is declared legally invalid. Some instances that meet the criteria of an invalid marriage include:
- If the person wanting the annulment was under the age of 18 when he or she married
- If one spouse was already legally married or in a registered domestic partnership at the time of the marriage
- If a person was forced into marriage
- If one spouse was of unsound mind at the time the marriage took place
- If one spouse committed fraud when entering into marriage, such as lying about the ability to physically have children
The duration of a marriage is not a factor to whether you can obtain an annulment. In order to annul a marriage, however, evidence must be shown to the court that proves one of these conditions exist. An experienced divorce attorney can advise you on what type of proof you will need to get a marriage annulled.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), typically conducted by a divorce lawyer, is essentially mediation to work through the details of ending a marriage. The benefits to this approach include avoiding costly trial expenses and having a less formal process than a court proceeding. ADR may not be an ideal method for those dealing with a spouse that is:
- Unwilling to compromise or cooperate
- Abusive (verbally or physically)
- Directly in a position of financial power over the other spouse
Additional potential benefits of ADR include saving time, preserving relationships and having more control over the process and the outcome.
While there are many options available, not all choices are right for you and your family. A skilled divorce lawyer can inform you on your legal opportunities, help you protect your interests during this difficult time. Furthermore, a legal professional can help you avoid costly mistakes, such as signing a contract that isn’t in your best interests.
How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer
The dissolution of marriage is a hard time in a person’s life that affects the whole family. If children are involved, it may be especially important to lessen the after-effects associated from divorce by taking the proper legal steps.
When choosing a lawyer, hire one with experience representing families in Riverside-San Bernardino, California, with a concentration in family law – specifically divorce. Each case is different and, because of this, it’s wise to reach out to an attorney who can help with your particular situation and help you transition to a new chapter in your life.