Until approximately thirty years ago, a spouse had to prove grounds for divorce, or “fault.” Fault grounds in divorce cases were normally adultery, cruel treatment, or abandonment. A significant amount of fraud occurred when two people just wanted a divorce, but couldn’t obtain one unless they lied about a fictitious affair or other circumstance, that legislatures around the country, including California, passed “no-fault” divorce statutes. Essentially, if you ask for a divorce, you will eventually get one. The petitioner (person who files) must only plead that there is a conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship in order to obtain a divorce. Your spouse cannot stop you from getting a divorce, but if there are children, or there is significant marital property, long and costly disputes can slow down the process.
Although many couples separate today long before they file for divorce, they may reside together when the decision is made, and they may need to plan before one spouse has the resources to set up separate housekeeping, which could nearly double living expenses. This need is even more important when children are involved, as the one parent’s new residence could affect the school district the children attend (or force the parents to incur tuition), carpools, daycare, and medical care needs of the children. This type of planning with your family law attorney is a key element of divorce strategy, and possibly a safety issue in certain divorces.
You may have certain rights to any property (personal and/or real) that was acquired during a marriage, but the facts of how the property came into the marriage determine the exact extent of your rights. A consultation with an attorney is necessary to discuss these rights. Contested property in a divorce can make the divorce more expensive. This is one of the most important topics in any divorce where the parties own a home, stocks or securities, have retirement accounts, and/or many motor vehicles. Debts are also community property.