Answering Your Family Law Questions

What does the state of California require before a divorce can take place?

You or your spouse must reside in California for at six months and be a resident of a California county for three months prior to the filing of the divorce petition. When it comes to divorce, California is a "no fault" state. This means that you will not have to demonstrate grounds for obtaining the divorce. It only takes one party to request a divorce as there is no requirement for consent of both spouses.

How long before I can obtain a divorce?

The waiting period for a divorce is six months following the service of the summons and petition.

What determinations are made during a divorce?

A divorce involves division of your marital property and debt. In the event you have children, there are determinations concerning child custody and visitation. During the divorce, there are also decisions made concerning child support payments. Some divorces may also involve awarding of attorney fees and costs, and the issuing of restraining orders on parties.

How are child custody determinations made?

Child custody decisions always revolve around what is in the best interest of the child. This includes taking into account a child's health, safety, education and general welfare.

It is important to remember, however, that in some instances circumstances change. In the event of changed circumstances, modifications of existing agreements or orders may be necessary to meet the child's needs.

What goes into child support determinations?

Calculating child support under the California Child Support Guidelines includes examining any factors that may justify deviating from the guidelines, examining child custody and shared parenting plans, setting up a payment schedule for child support payments, modifying any child support because of changes in circumstances and enforcing proceedings for child support.

What goes into spousal support determinations?

Sometimes referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance, determinations include calculating the amount of spousal support (not based on guidelines, but estimations), dividing marital assets and examining each spouse's potential to earn income.

Why choose mediation when going through the divorce process?

Rather than relying upon a court to make determinations, mediation allows for you and your spouse to take control of the process. It allows for you to make decisions jointly concerning the raising of your children. Mediation also allows for you to divide your marital assets and debts in a way that makes financial sense to both of you.

As mediation fosters better communication between you and your spouse, this in turn leads to a less contentious divorce. It also means that you and your spouse are agreeing to the terms of your divorce. This leads to less future disputes. Most couples find that mediation is much less time-consuming and expensive than going to trial to resolve issues that may arise.

What is the role of the mediator?

The mediator is a neutral party to your divorce. His role is simply to facilitate communication between the two of you and to resolve issues that could potentially derail the entire process. The mediator gives each party the opportunity to present their side of the divorce. The mediator also will help you understand the mediation process, and point out potential issues that may get in the way of an amiable divorce.

What is family law arbitration?

Family law arbitration is a less formal version of a trial. In arbitration, the arbitrator plays the role of a judge. The rules of arbitration are less strict than trial, however. Because there are less procedures to follow, arbitration generally moves faster and smoother than trial. It is also far less expensive than trial.

How does the collaborative law process work concerning divorce?

During the collaborative law process, both spouses agree that any lawyers they hire will not take the divorce or family law matter to court. Meetings are set up rather than court hearings. Each spouse will then agree to openly share information and documentation in resolving issues.

For answers to more of your family law questions, please contact my law firm, Silverman Divorce & Mediation Law, in Pleasanton, by calling 925-401-7339.