A Few Basics of the California Divorce
Before we dive deeper into the basics of divorce, it is important to note that divorce in California includes same-sex marriages. All married couples undergo the same process of divorce. Here are some other fundamentals to keep in mind.
Not everyone is eligible to get a California divorce. If you want one, you’ll need to meet the requirements.
The state of California has a residency requirement, so prior to filing, at least one spouse should be a resident of California for at least six months. Moreover, you should be living in a country where you file the petition for at least three months.
If you haven’t been a resident for long enough to qualify for a divorce, you may want to file for legal separation as a first step. You can then file for an amended petition for divorce in the country once either you or your spouse met the minimum requirements. There is also a mandatory six-month waiting period before the decision can be finalized.
California adopted the “no-fault” divorce in 1969. Under this concept, one party may file for the dissolution of marriage due to irreconcilable differences. That means the process may proceed even if the other party is not willing to undergo divorce. No-fault divorce is important because, until this law, it is easier for people to leave marriages where one person may be uncooperative or unwilling to seek divorce. This can happen for a variety of reasons ranging from religious objections to abuse.
When to Get a Divorce: Four Warning Signs and What to Do If You Spot Them
Some may argue that longevity is the best indicator of a successful marriage. However, even the longest marriages incorporating markers of success like careers and kids still get into trouble. This is always the case even despite seeking the help of a marriage counselor. It is important to be observant of the common signs even in what seems like a strong relationship.
Of course, it isn’t enough to just see the signs. But according to relationship experts, you must recognize them and know when it is time to take action. These are four key warning signs you may be headed for a divorce, along with what you can do if you notice them.
1. Lack of Communication
Communication is one of the key ingredients to a healthy and lasting relationship for a married couple. That is why when communication breaks down, the pillars of marriage tend to break down as well.
If you ever find yourself or your partner avoiding a conversation to avoid getting into an argument that goes nowhere, then this can be a red flag. This is primarily because neither party is willing to understand the feelings of the other party or to compromise. Communication is key in all healthy marriages.
A complication of this shortcoming is that a couple can start to avoid being physically together. They may also not wish to be around other people, such as friends and family, who may notice something is wrong. These are clear indications of a miserable marriage.
This problem can often be addressed through effective communication techniques. Not everyone grows up with a good model for communication, so learning them in a structured way can improve your communication skills and help you interact positively with your partner.
Concepts such as active listening, affirmation of grievances, and maintaining respect can keep an argument from escalating and help you and your spouse to reach a point of compromise. You can learn skills like these through a variety of websites, self-help books, courses, group meetings, or therapy sessions.
2. Lack of Intimacy
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, sex is a physiological need. For married couples, sex is more than just an activity; it is a normal need that needs to be fulfilled, and it strengthens the bond of both parties.
More than just having sex, physical intimacy (such as kissing and cuddling) is also important as this leads to a strong connection. It makes both parties feel that their partner is just close to them. Physical touch is also crucial for persons who have this as their love language. A lack of intimacy is one of the biggest signs of a broken marriage.
The lack of intimacy creates a distance between two parties. To prevent this from happening, both parties should find time to practice intimacy and include this as a normal routine in your marital relationship. This often means reverting back to abandoned courtship rituals, such as going on dates and practicing small acts of kindness. If the lack of intimacy is due to bad communication as described in point 1, you may need to address that first before attempting to rekindle this part of your relationship.
3. Lack of Compromise
The beginning of a relationship often seems perfect, and even if there are disagreements, partners always try to find the middle ground. But when relationships reach a certain length, it gets complicated. When you or your partner feel the need to outright win an argument, then this can be a warning sign.
Relationships last long because couples are not aiming to win, but to settle in a point of compromise where the needs of both parties are recognized, understood, and fulfilled. Otherwise, this becomes a competition of who is right and who has power; hence leading to an unhappy relationship. Communication skills can help with this, as can acknowledging that your partner’s feelings are valid and that nobody is right all the time.
4. Toxic and Abusive Behavior
It is normal for couples to argue, but there is an important distinction between a normal spat and inappropriate (and sometimes dangerous and illegal) behavior. Notice how your partner behaves when they are triggered or upset; as they say, people are at their truest selves when they are mad. This may also be another indication of an unhappy marriage.
If your partner has ever hit or abused you, then it is a clear sign of a toxic marriage. Everyone would always want to co-exist in a healthy relationship. Your partner cannot make an excuse that they were just carried away. They may do the same in the future, so to protect yourself and any children involved, it’s best to extricate yourself from a situation like this immediately.
There are a wide variety of organizations out there dedicated to helping people who have experienced domestic abuse, so if you are being abused, assistance is available. You are not alone.
When to Get a Divorce: Questions to Ask Yourself
When you read the warning signs of divorce, you may have noticed that some of them look familiar. But these telltale signs should be taken with a grain of salt, as all relationships are different. Even seeing a few of these signs may not be enough to help you make up your mind. After all, this is a life-altering decision.
Aside from knowing and recognizing the signs, it is also important to ask yourself the following questions to assess whether divorce is the right answer for you.
1. Have you thoroughly and calmly talked about your problems with your partner?
Again, communication plays a pivotal role in a long-term relationship. If you haven’t yet tried this, it may be too early to jump to legal action. It may be impossible to think about having a level conversation where you try to reconcile with your partner, but as impossible as it may seem, it may be easier than going through the steps to get a divorce.
2. Would you be happier without your partner?
The divorce process is long and tedious. At times, during the divorce proceedings, some people may start feeling like they made the wrong choice. Plus, once the decision has been finalized, it can never be reversed. Are you certainly going to be happier and more comfortable without your partner? Or are you going to encounter a rough patch in the process? Sometimes, you may simply need to affect change or take some time for yourself so that your relationship issues can get sorted out with time.
3. How would divorce affect you and any children involved?
The divorce process can be painful and protracting. Couples who underwent divorce often experience emotional distress and depression. If ever you and your spouse have children, the consequences of divorce extend to your kids and your future relationships. A divorce may also be a difficult decision if you keep your children in mind.
This also means that the parenting time for your children will significantly get affected. When unprepared, children of divorced couples are likely to experience a depressed mood, academic difficulties, and engage in negative behaviors.
Of course, sometimes, this cannot be avoided, especially if it applies to an abusive relationship. Major decisions have to be made. However, if you feel you may be able to make your marriage work, it could potentially save you, your spouse, and your children from a lot of emotional pain associated with divorce. You could as well seek the services of a family therapist that will you in setting new life goals.
4. Have you explored the alternatives to divorce?
Is divorce the right answer to your problems? To help you decide whether divorce is the most appropriate solution for you, it is also helpful to explore alternative options. A divorce attorney could also provide proper guidance in this case. Check out the section below for details.
Alternatives to Divorce
A divorce decree is a permanent dissolution of marriage. If you happen to just need time and space to think, then a trial separation can be a good option for you. It is a physical separation where married couples spend time away from each other and without the intention of immediately filing for divorce. For some couples, the breathing room makes it easier to talk through key problems and appreciate the positive aspects of the relationship.
If you have been married for less than five years, have no kids, do not own a real estate property, and have few debts and marital property, then you can undergo a simpler process: the summary dissolution. In this fast-track process, a trial or judicial intervention is waived, and any agreement between two parties is summarized in a settlement agreement. If you qualify for a summary dissolution, it is a far preferable option to a traditional divorce.
When to Get a Divorce: Making Your Choice
After carefully considering all the signs and questions, if you still believe that your marriage can no longer be saved, then perhaps it is time to file a petition for divorce and seek the guidance of a divorce lawyer. Since California implements the “no-fault” concept, you do not need to find fault or wait until your partner does something terrible before you proceed with the divorce. When you are sure that divorce is the right answer, you can simply move forward.
Divorce is a serious and complex legal process. If it’s time for you to start your California divorce, consider using a document preparation service like A People’s Choice. We can help you locate and complete the correct forms thoroughly and accurately, saving you both time and money. Contact us today to get started!