California is a no-fault divorce state, which means that there’s no need to legally define blame for the divorce. As a result, it’s important not to let your emotions or your partner’s past indiscretions cloud your judgment when making important divorce decisions. Read on to learn the five questions to ask yourself and then contact a family law attorney for a free legal consultation.
1. How will we divide the property?
Since California is a no-fault state, property rights are generally fairly simple. Any assets that are obtained during the marriage should be split 50/50 unless you and your spouse come to a different agreement. There are some exceptions that we can help you with. For example, if you or your spouse owned a business before the marriage, then the proceeds from that business may not qualify as community property. Note as well that if you had a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, it may change the division of property.
2. How will custody / visitation work?
If you don’t have kids, you can skip to question number four. If you do, then one of the biggest factors you’ll have to consider is how you’ll set up custody or visitation. It wasn’t long ago that the courts were likely to give the child to the mother and allow the father only visitation. This is not the case anymore. Now, the courts look primarily at how fit each parent is. If both you and your ex are equally fit in the eyes of the courts, then the judge will look at what would upset the child’s life the least. This generally means that if one of you is going to keep the house, you’ll also get primary or joint custody.
3. Will child support be made? How much will be paid?
If one of you has primary custody, then the other will likely be eligible for child support. You can let the courts decide how much child custody will be or you can discuss it with each other and come up with an agreement that works for you.
4. Will one of you get alimony?
If you or your spouse made significantly more money than the other, then spousal custody may be possible. There are numerous types of alimony, including temporary that only lasts for a specific amount of time, and one-time alimony in which a one-time payment is made. There is also “permanent” alimony that applies to marriages that lasted more than ten years. Despite the name, it doesn’t last forever.
5. Do I need to hire an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney. However, we highly recommend it. Even if you and your spouse are splitting up relatively easily, this is a time when emotions will be high. You don’t want to find out a year from now that what you thought was a fair agreement isn’t fair at all. Hiring an attorney assures that there’s one person in the room who has your best interests at the forefront of their mind.