Best Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles, CA Of 2024 – Forbes

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California was the first no-fault divorce state, so couples don’t need to provide a reason to file for divorce in Los Angeles, but couples do have to wait six months before the court will finalize your divorce.

Other requirements, including residency, must be met before filing for divorce. Scroll down to learn more about California divorce requirements and reach out to a family law attorney in Los Angeles if you have any questions.

California Divorce Requirements

At least one spouse must live in California for six months and be a resident of their Los Angeles county for three months to start divorce proceedings. If you’re filing for legal separation, you can file that paperwork right away and change it to divorce once one of you lives in California long enough.

Domestic partnerships do not need to meet the six-month residency requirements, but the local court may be limited in its decisions regarding custody or property division. Speak with a divorce attorney to learn more about dissolving domestic partnerships in California.

Types of Divorce and Separation in California

There are different types of divorce and separation in Los Angeles:

  • Legal separation: Couples remain legally married, but the court divides property, debts, and determines custody.
  • Collaborative divorce: You and your spouse work together to reach a separation agreement without a divorce attorney. You both must agree on spousal support and how to split property and custody to file for uncontested divorce in California.
  • Summary dissolution: This simpler form of divorce is available if you and your spouse have been married for less than five years. Couples who wish to file summary dissolution must not have any children together or be pregnant with their spouse’s child and must have little debt, agree about property division and are not seeking spousal support.

California law doesn’t recognize common-law marriage, so couples who live together but never marry don’t have to file for divorce when separating. However, cohabitating couples who share property or finances should consult a divorce attorney to better understand property division in their case.

Property Division in California

California law divides marital property into two categories—separate property is any assets you acquired before marriage and after separation, while community property is what you acquired during marriage.

The date of your separation is very important to property division in a California divorce. It is the date courts uses to determine the appropriate amount of alimony and spousal support and how much property each spouse receives.

It doesn’t matter who paid for what during the marriage. All community property, starting from the day of marriage up to the separation date, is equally divided between spouses. California law defines the separation date as the day divorce paperwork was filed, so assets are divided based on that date even if couples remain living together after divorce.

Child Custody, Support and Visitation in California

When divorce in Los Angeles involves children and dependents, spouses agree to a parenting plan or receive one from the court that details how the couple will share time with their children and where the children will live. California has the following types of child custody:

  • Legal custody: This pertains to decision-making about issues such as medical care, religion and education. It can be sole or joint.
  • Physical custody: This describes how the parents share time with the children. It can be sole or joint.

Both spouses are financially responsible for children after divorce, and the parent without primary physical custody may be required to pay child support. A child support calculator can help determine monthly payments.

Spouses without physical custody usually have visitation rights. These parenting time orders can be:

  • As agreed. Couples work out when each spouse will see their children without a court order.
  • Scheduled. The court sets scheduled visitation with specific dates and times when spouses can see their children.
  • Supervised. The court sets scheduled visitation that is monitored by a professional, family member, or mutually agreed upon supervisor,

Couples can agree to custody and visitation without going to court or work with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer to help settle custody disputes.

Filing and Serving Your Divorce Papers

If you’ve lived in Los Angeles, you can file for divorce at a local county courthouse in person or through the mail. You can also file online if the court allows e-filing. It costs around $435 to file for divorce in California. The court’s website has the paperwork you need, so find a local Los Angeles courthouse to start the process.

Once you file in court, you must serve your spouse with the divorce papers. You cannot hand them the documents yourself, so hire a process server, ask the sheriff’s department, or have a trusted friend or family member over the age of 18 serve them.

Finalizing Your Divorce

If you and your spouse are able to agree about your divorce, both spouses must share their financial information and sign the divorce papers before submitting it to the county court. Couples must then wait six months after filing for the divorce to be finalized. This waiting period exists to give spouses a chance to appeal or make changes to the separation agreement.

If you go to trial, the divorce is final after the court sends you the judgment.

You can still make changes to alimony or custody arrangements after a divorce is finalized, but you will often need to hire a divorce lawyer to start that process.

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