Getting divorced is an emotional experience for any couple. In a divorce with kids, a custody battle makes the situation even harder for both parents and children. In such cases, the court’s objective is not to rule in favor of one of the parents; it’s to prioritize the child’s needs and try to create a smooth transition.
The state of California might consider the criminal histories and financial situations of the parents, the school schedule of the child, preferences of the child, and many other factors. Here’s what this may look like for parents starting a divorce with kids in California.
Which California Divorce Procedure Is Right for You?
In the state of California, there are three ways of ending a marriage without enduring the hassle of an old-fashioned divorce. So before you opt for divorce with kids involved, consider some of these alternatives:
- Annulment – An annulment basically nullifies your entire marriage; it is as though the marriage never happened. An annulment is possible if the marriage took place without the consent of your parent’s or guardian’s consent when you were a minor. It is also possible in cases of fraud, deceit, or lies involving the marriage. To proceed with an annulment, you must appear in court for a trial.
- Legal separation – A legal separation is when you stay married on paper, but the court divides your assets and issues orders regarding child custody. Couples sometimes opt for legal separation for religious purposes or financial issues like health insurance.
- Summary dissolution – This is possible if you and your spouse have reached an agreement for the division of assets and debts. You have to meet certain criteria like being married for five years or less, having no children from the marriage, and not owning any real estate. A summary dissolution involves very little paperwork and does not require your appearance in court.
Do you qualify for a no-fault divorce?
California is a no-fault divorce state, which means you don’t have to prove your spouse did anything wrong. In other words, your spouse does not need to agree to a divorce, and you do not need a special reason to file it. Instead, you just have to state the existence of “irreconcilable differences” between you and your spouse.
Legal separation vs divorce with kids
You may want to omit the extra steps of legal separation if you are sure that your end goal is a divorce. However, you may want to opt for a legal separation if:
You may consider reconciliation in the future
You and your spouse share government benefits, like tax breaks or insurance
Either you or your spouse do not believe in divorce due to religious reasons.
You may also want to consider a legal separation if you and your spouse can come to a consensus regarding the raising of your kids. Since you will still stay married legally, it will not affect your kids’ daily routines as much as a divorce. A divorce can put minor children under a lot of mental and emotional distress.
Protecting Yourself and Your Kids
However hard you try, there will be a point in your divorce when you will have to do your best to protect yourself and your children. In these cases, it is highly suggested that you seek professional legal assistance early on in the process.
To protect yourself financially, the first thing you must do is safeguard all shared resources. This includes joint bank accounts, credit cards, and other property.
Cut back on your expenses, and don’t sign any documents without consulting an attorney or divorce professional. In a contentious divorce, your spouse may also make false allegations; prepare yourself for that if you believe it is a possiblility. If this is likely, move all your records and documents out of your family home or create copies stored elsewhere.
Protecting your kids
The first and foremost thing in a California divorce with kids is to to avoid moving out of your home without your children. If you have already moved out, move back in as soon as possible. Why? Moving out will ruin your chance at gaining any custody whatsoever.
Make sure to demand joint legal custody from the beginning. Settle for less (like giving your spouse sole custody) in the beginning and you may end up left with less in the end too.
Even if you are nervous about custody,dDo not move your kids from their home, let alone to another state. If disputes arise, consider getting a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).
Temporary Alimony or Child Support in California
In a California divorce with kids, the spouse who earns less is entitled to temporary alimony, which the spouse earning more income pays for. It’s given during the divorce proceedings to support the family until permanent alimony is decided by the court of law. Several factors, like the skills of the supported spouse, age and health of spouses, and the like determine the duration and amount of the alimony.
Get Help With Your California Divorce with Kids
The effects of divorce can be straining for both parents and the entire family. To avoid a lengthy court battle, negotiating can be a good option if you and your spouse are on amicable terms.
You may also want to consider devising a legal plan when filing for a California divorce with kids. Try to come to an agreement with your soon-to-be ex so your children’s routine isn’t affected.
Contact A People’s Choice if you need help with the divorce process. Our legal document assistants can help you file your divorce paperwork for an affordable fee, helping you avoid the hassle and expense of working with a lawyer. Call 800-747-2780 to get started!
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