California Family Law FAQs

I Just Got Served with Divorce Papers. What Are My Next Steps?

In California, you have 30 days to respond after you’ve been served divorce papers from your spouse. Your main two options are to contest the terms (ie. respond by countering your spouse with your own terms) or to leave it uncontested which means you agree to the terms laid out by your spouse. If you do not respond within this time period, you could be risking your legal protections and inadvertently consenting to terms you don’t agree with.

How Long Will It Take to Get Divorced in California?

Most people should plan on a divorce taking several months to complete, although there isn’t a court-mandated waiting period.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in California?

You are not required to have “grounds” for a divorce in California (ie. a reason for the divorce) other than stating you have irreconcilable differences with your spouse or that one spouse has been permanently incapacitated and is no longer able to make decisions on their own.

Will I Be Awarded Alimony?

Alimony is never automatically awarded to either spouse unless it was written into pre- or post-nuptial agreements that the couple legally agreed to. However, a judge may decide to award alimony to be paid from one spouse to another. This is usually done when there’s a significant income difference between the two partners and one partner won’t be able to make enough money on their own. It’s worth noting that this is almost always temporary and only meant to help the lower-earning spouse find a new job or obtain education or training that will help them earn more.

When Is Mediation a Good Option?

If you’re on relatively good speaking terms with your spouse and are in agreement about some (but not all) factors in your divorce, you may benefit from mediation. However, a mediator will not make decisions for you, as their main role is to facilitate productive conversations between the couple to help them come to a joint decision. Furthermore, both spouses must agree to mediation.

Who Gets to Keep the Home During a Divorce?

California is what’s known as a community property state which means that in general, all marital property (assets that were acquired after the marriage took place by either spouse), should be split roughly 50/50. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. You should work with your attorney to help determine what assets may rightly belong to you even if they may be considered “marital” under the eyes of the law.

Do I Need an Attorney for My Divorce?

There’s no rule saying you need a lawyer to get a divorce, but the vast majority of people find that meeting with an attorney, even in a limited capacity, brings them peace of mind and helps them achieve their goals during this process.

Rely on Experienced Representation

If you’re in the Los Angeles County area and would like to consult with an attorney about your family law case, call Karen S. Brown for help.