Best Divorce Lawyers San Francisco, CA Of 2024 – Forbes

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It is relatively straightforward to file for divorce in San Francisco. However, that doesn’t mean the divorce process is easy. Most couples filing for divorce hire San Francisco divorce lawyers to make the process go more smoothly and take less time.

California Divorce Requirements

The requirements to file for a divorce in California are similar to many other states. You or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months, and whoever files for the divorce must have resided in the county where the divorce is filed for at least three months. There is no need to separate before the divorce.

Types of Divorce and Separation in California

There are two types of divorce in California: no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences and divorce due to a spouse being legally incapacitated. Nearly all divorces in the state are the former. If someone files for the other type of divorce, they need to provide medical or psychiatric evidence that their spouse is unable to make decisions.

California also allows for legal separation. The results of legal separation are nearly identical to the results of divorce, except the couple technically remains married. The main benefit of a legal separation is that there are no minimum residency requirements to file for separation as long as at least one person in the marriage lives in California.

Child Custody, Support and Visitation in California

California law allows for several different types of child custody arrangements:

  • Joint legal custody. The preferred arrangement is one where both parents have an active role in the child’s life, though one is the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent has significant visitation privileges, usually approaching 50% of the time.
  • Sole legal custody. This arrangement usually only occurs when the other parent has committed some type of abuse. Typically, the other parent will still have limited supervised visitation rights.
  • Shared parenting. Parents share legal and physical custody in this arrangement. If both parents are amenable, this is usually best for the child.
  • Sole physical custody. If the other parent is not present or does not wish to have a role in the child’s life, or the court finds it is not in the best interest of the child to have contact with that parent, the other parent will have sole physical custody.
  • Split custody. This extremely rare arrangement is one where each parent gains primary custody of different children, breaking up where siblings live. This is usually only used when it is necessary for financial or psychological reasons.

Property Division in California

California is a community property state. All assets and debts incurred while within the marriage are considered marital property. During divorce, marital property is split 50/50 or as close as possible if decided by the courts.

However, this assumes that property division is left to the courts. That can be avoided in several ways. First, if both parties signed a prenuptial agreement, typically, the courts will respect an agreement regarding property division and alimony, assuming it was legally entered. Second, in an uncontested divorce, when both parties agree on all issues, the courts will respect the will of the divorcing couples as long as the agreement is reasonable.

Filing and Serving Your Divorce Papers

Filing divorce papers in California is fairly easy. Divorce forms are available on the California Courts webpage, and all divorce lawyers in San Francisco have copies of them as well. Once these forms are properly filled out, they need to be filed with the county court where the filer lives.

If both parties to the marriage file jointly, the process is complete. However, if not, then the person filing them must also notify their spouse, otherwise known as serving them with divorce papers. Typically, this is done by having an adult (usually the county sheriff or a professional process server) who is not a party to the divorce physically hand the papers to the other spouse. The server will then file a Proof of Service form with the court.

Finalizing Your Divorce

As easy as California makes it to file a divorce, finalizing a divorce is surprisingly complex. First, there is a six-month waiting period. This waiting period starts either when the other party is served with divorce paperwork or makes their first appearance (usually at a court hearing).

Once the six months have passed, the divorce isn’t finalized until additional paperwork is submitted to the court and a final judgment is issued.

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