The Golden State may have more people than any other state, but it is not credited with the highest per capita divorce rate in the nation (that distinction belongs to Nevada). California probably does have the highest total number of divorces in the country, but since the state is one of four in the nation (along with Colorado, Indiana and Louisiana) that do not keep track of overall numbers, it is difficult to know for certain. If you are searching for a specific divorce record in California, you will have to start at the Superior Court in the county where the divorce was filed. Regardless of the total numbers, with 36 million residents, you can be sure there are plenty of California divorces filed every year.
California divorce laws are based on English Common Law and state that if a person has been a resident of the state for six months and they file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, they can get a divorce with or without the agreement of their spouse. The purpose of the dissolution is to restore both spouses to unmarried status. The Petition for Dissolution must be based on irreconcilable differences resulting in a breakdown of the marriage. Incurable insanity is also considered appropriate grounds for divorce in California, but is not commonly cited in most cases.
If both spouses agree on a settlement of property, custody and support issues, they can get divorced without a court trial in California. If they disagree, a court will hear the case and make appropriate rulings on property, custody and child support orders, and orders to determine who pays any outstanding debts. Since California is a community property state, all assets and debts that were acquired during the divorce will be divided equally at the time of divorce. Property and assets acquired by an individual prior to marriage in California is considered separate property and is not divided. Property and income inherited from family or generated by separate investment is considered separate property at the time of divorce as long as it has not been commingled with community property during the marriage.
Alimony, child custody and child support arrangements are all based on the best interests of the family and the dependant children by ruling of the California divorce courts. The courts will consider the financial situation of spouses, the marriage history and the needs of all parties when making rulings. Divorce court mandated orders can only be modified after the divorce if a change in circumstances is proven to have occurred. A primary focus of California divorce law is the reduction of stress and trauma for minor children whenever possible. If the parents cannot agree on child custody and support issues, a California divorce court will make the final determination for them.
Initiating a divorce in California can be a daunting process if you are attempting to do it on your own without the aid of a lawyer. Even in uncontested cases, a California divorce can be lengthy and complicated. In more complex and contested cases, it is almost a necessity to obtain the services and advice of a legal professional to help guide you through the procedures and paperwork of a California divorce. You can find a qualified California divorce attorney in your local area by searching the Find a Lawyer resource pages here at Divorce.com. Once you have located a suitable divorce attorney, here are a few questions you might want to discuss during your initial consultation:
1. When is the best time to initiate a divorce in California?
2. Can my spouse stop me from getting a divorce?
3. What documents do I need to prepare?
4. Who pays the bills during the divorce?
5. How long will it take to get divorced in California?
6. Can I get custody of my children?
7. Can I use a joint bank account during the divorce?