The Orange County Divorce Process: Part 3
Hopefully you’ve made it this far through your California divorce process with some ease. Often, the hardest part is reaching an agreement on how to divide your property to the satisfaction of both parties and the court.
For organization, think of this process as three separate stages:
First Stage – Dividing Property
You can go about dividing your property directly with your spouse, or if the need arises, with your lawyers and a mediator. As mentioned in part 2, California is a community property state and seeks to divide all marital property equally.
All items purchased during the marriage is considered community property, regardless of sentimental value. In order for property to be exempt from this rule, there must be a written agreement previously excluding the item or a verbal agreement between both parties to exempt the item from the process. If you’re ready to sign the Marital Settlement Agreement, the judge will assign property accordingly in a court-ordered final dissolution of your marriage.
Debts occurring after separation will also need to be assigned, with everyday living expenses being assigned to either spouse, and other unnecessary expenses assigned to the spouse responsible for the debt.
Second Stage – Calculating Alimony
California also handles alimony in a somewhat equal manner, limiting alimony awards on a short-term basis to give a spouse adequate time to rehabilitate their affairs after your divorce. This may include time for one spouse to gain employment or return to school to improve their employment opportunities, and is generally limited to three years.
Alimony payments are typically the smaller amount of $2500 a month or 20% of the paying spouse’s income. Family violence and domestic abuse are additional reasons for the judge to award alimony.
Third Stage – Establish Custody & Child Support
At all times, the judge will consider the best interest of children when dealing with custody issues. Either spouse can request a temporary child custody order early in the divorce process. As usual, if an agreement cannot be made, the judge will request you seek mediation. Temporary awards generally become permanent once your divorce is settled.
If mediation doesn’t work, a custody evaluation can be ordered. The judge will often make an arrangement that is as consistent as possible with how life was during your marriage. Child support is based directly on the income of both parents.
Settling Out of Court
If you and your spouse can come to a satisfactory out-of-court agreement, you can actually complete your entire California divorce without ever having to appear in court. Have both lawyers prepare a Settlement Agreement and finalize the other Orange County divorce papers for the court’s approval.
Remember: Even if you come to an agreement before the six month grace period, you’ll still have to wait the full six months before your divorce is finalized and you regain your single status.
To complete discovery, both parties must provide specific documentation and answer all questions posed by the other party. This will bring to light all the assets and debts that must be divided and finalized to complete your divorce. California law requires each party file disclosures known as “Preliminary and Final Declarations of Disclosure” prior to the time of settlement or trial.
Remember: Six months is the minimum amount of time required to complete your California divorce, but it could take longer depending on your specific circumstance. Cooperating with the court and both lawyers to complete the mandatory steps will help you get to the end on schedule and with less stress.
Call JPL Process Service today at (866) 754-0520 and see how we can serve your Orange County divorce papers, quickly and affordably.