Divorce rates in the United States have steadily declined over the past few decades, starting in about 1980. Most experts attribute this trend to the fact that people are now deciding to wait longer to get married, whereas people used to be compelled by a social expectation to get married in their early twenties. According to a study performed by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, there were an estimated 16.9 divorces per 1,000 women in the year 2015, down from a peak of 23 divorces per 1,000 women in the year 1980. In the current era, the average age for spouses getting a divorce for the first time is about 30 years old, and the average first marriage ending in divorce lasts about 8 years.
However, while divorce rates have been declining for roughly the past 40 years, divorce is still quite a common occurrence in the United States. According to one study, a divorce occurs in the United States once every 13 seconds, or in other words, 277 divorces take place every hour. In California, 94,509 men and 111,013 women got divorced in the year 2015 alone. So, if you are a resident of California and going through a divorce, you certainly aren’t alone. Also, you shouldn’t feel alone when navigating the intricate divorce process. Feel free to call 858-529-5150 to ask any questions and voice your concerns with a resident attorney, who has substantial experience managing divorces of all kinds in the Escondido area.
Some people believe that they only need to hire an attorney if their divorce is heading to trial, but this is a false assumption. Even those engaging in divorce with someone whom they get along well with often hire an attorney, to make certain they get the best deal they can and avoid being deceived in any way. After you agree and sign onto the terms of a divorce, you will permanently be bound by the agreement. A divorce agreement that has been finalized and approved by the court system can almost never be undone, except under special circumstances, usually involving some sort of fraud or unlawful coercion. Simply being careless or not taking the time to fully understand the terms of the divorce will not be viewed as sufficient grounds for the undoing of a divorce arrangement. For this reason, it is highly encouraged that you consult a lawyer, especially one who has dealt with divorces in your local area and who understands the intricacies of dealing with divorces in the city, before finalizing your divorce.
A divorce attorney can be of great assistance in many of the crucial steps involved in completing a divorce in California. A divorce lawyer can first help by explaining what rights you possess in a divorce proceeding, and by interpreting for you the multitude of statutes that are relevant to divorce cases. Your divorce lawyer can help you decide what path you should pursue in your divorce, whether you should contest your divorce if you are the receiving party, if you should enter in a collaborative divorce, engage in mediation or arbitration, or even if you should pursue an annulment or other alternative relationship-ending legal measure. A divorce lawyer can help negotiate the exact terms of your divorce, on key issues such as child custody and the division of property. Lastly, a divorce attorney can review the final legal document that contains the exact terms of the divorce, to make certain everything is square and as was agreed. Also, a divorce attorney absolutely will not push for the case to go to trial to extend the length of the case without reason, and will only do so if the opposite party is truly uncooperative.
There are certain specific situations when hiring an attorney is almost required. If the person whom your divorcing has hired an attorney, you should probably hire an attorney also, in order to avoid being out-maneuvered by a legal professional. Also, if there exists a history of domestic violence or child abuse in your household, then it is recommended that you hire an attorney in order to safeguard your rights.
A few focal issues usually generally dominate the negotiation involved in settling a divorce in California. Here is a summary of these issues:
If the two partners involved in a divorce are generally on good terms and willing to cooperate in the divorce process, then a collaborative divorce may be an option to take into consideration. This process has grown in popularity in the last few decades, and our firm has many attorneys in the Escondido area who are highly familiar with collaborative divorce law.
Through the collaborative divorce process, the two divorcing couples and their respective legal representatives agree to a set number of meetings, where the specifics of the divorce settlement will be hammered out. These meetings are governed by a few key ground rules. Both parties must agree to be totally honest in all aspects of the negotiations, especially when it comes to the disclosure of financial documents and asset holdings. Also, both parties must agree not to threaten litigation at any point in the process. If either of these rules are violated, the whole collaborative process ceases immediately. Also, both parties must agree to confidentiality regarding the entirety of the process, meaning that anything said cannot be shared with anyone outside the collaboration or used in future potential courtroom trials. Lastly, if the collaborative divorce process fails, none of the attorneys involved can be used in a subsequent trial.
There are a few main benefits that attract people to collaborative divorces over other forms of divorce. Collaborative divorce is much less pricey and much less time-consuming than traditional litigation. As opposed to a trial, you can set dates for the meetings involved in a collaborative divorce that do not interfere with either party’s schedule. Also, unlike with a settlement decided by a judge, the final pronouncement rests in the hands of the two parties.
A commonly used alternative to divorce for couples looking to end their legally-sanctioned relationship is what is called a legal separation. The process involved in legal separation is almost exactly the same as a process for a common divorce. Through a legal separation, the divorcing parties will divide property, agree to child custody and child support, decide whether or not alimony is owed and if so how much is owed, and so on. However, the main difference between the two is that a divorce officially ends a marriage between two parties, while with a legal separation the two parties remain married. This means that people who are legally separated cannot get remarried without violating California’s bigamy laws.
Why then, you might be asking yourself, would someone elect to pursue a legal separation instead of a divorce? There are a few main reasons why spouses decide to file for a legal separation rather than a typical divorce. One common reason why people tend to obtain a legal separation in lieu of a divorce is associated with religion. Divorce violates the religious tenets of certain belief systems, so people who subscribe to those beliefs tend to want to avoid divorce, and thus choose legal separation instead. Another common reason why people choose a legal separation over a divorce is that while they may feel their marriage is not working at the moment, and want to separate for at least a certain period of time, neither party feels ready to fully commit to a divorce and permanently end the marriage. The most common reason for filing a legal separation, however, is the desire for a couple to maintain certain benefits, such as health benefits or other such benefits that are only available to married couples.
Separation of Assets and Debts
While no two divorces are ever the same, it is highly common for the separation of assets/debt to be the central issue in divorces, as well as the most contentious aspect of the settlement. If a couple and their respective legal representatives can come to an agreement regarding the separation of property outside of a courtroom, and the court approves the division as fair and in line with the law, then there is no need for a judge to make a verdict on the separation of assets/debt. However, if the divorcing couple cannot come to such an arrangement, a judge will be forced by the law to make a decision for them.
In divorces, there are two main forms of property to be considered: separate property and community property. Community assets/debts are those that were obtained between the beginning of the union and the end of the union. Since California is a community property state, this type of property belongs equally to both couples. If settling out of court, this type of property does not need to be split exactly evenly, although if the case goes to court, a judge will divide all community property 50/50 between the two separating spouses. The other main form of property is separate asset/debts, which are those obtained after or before the term of the union. Separate property belongs entirely to the party who acquired it, and will unquestionably be awarded to that party by the judge. In order to determine what is separate and what is community property, the date of separation is often an important determining factor, as property obtained after the date of separation is considered separate property. There is no single way in which a date of separation is determined by the legal system, rather the judge will look at a mix of factors, which include when the spouses stopped living together, eating together, engaging in joint financial actions, or engaging in sexual interactions.
Typically, child support is a monthly installment paid from the spouse who is mostly taking care of the child by the other spouse, in order to reimburse the caretaking spouse for taking on the burden supporting the child financially. Child support is almost always a mandatory requirement, if the caretaking party requests it. Only if both parties come to a mutual agreement to waive child support can it be renounced. However, even if child support is initially waived, either party may go back to the court and ask that child support be instituted if circumstances change.
Child support is calculated by a computer program, which takes into account disposable income available to each parent, the number of children involved in the relationship, and other key expenses. The two most common computer programs used for this purpose in Southern California are Dissomaster and X-Spouse. It also accounts for the amount of time both parents spend with the child, and awards the caretaking parent more/less child support money based on the percentage of time spent with the child. There are certain child support add-ons which are usually added to the amount of money owed in child support. These include mandatory add-ons, like healthcare costs, childcare costs if the caretaking parent is employed, and dental costs, as well as certain discretionary add-ons, which can include tuition payments if the child is accustomed to attending a certain private school, travel expenses, and payments associated with extracurricular activities that the child is committed to.
Usually, child support is paid until the child’s 18th birthday, with a few exceptions related to finishing high school, joining the military, and becoming emancipated.
Spousal support, also known as alimony, which involves payments not solely focused on children from one spouse to another after a divorce, is another key issue in any divorce proceeding. As with child support, spousal support can be agreed upon by divorcing parties and their respective legal representation outside of a courtroom if they agree on the amount, or inside a courtroom by a family law judge if no such agreement can be reached. In either situation, you should consider hiring an Escondido lawyer, to make certain the alimony payment you will make or will receive is fair and just.
There are two main forms of spousal support: temporary spousal support and permanent spousal support. Temporary spousal support is a monthly payment from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse to help support the lower-earning spouse during the course of the divorce proceeding. Divorce attorneys and judges often use a computer program to calculate this amount. Permanent spousal support, on the other hand, is typically a monthly payment made after the finalization of the divorce. The purpose of this payment is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain the standard of living they became comfortable with during the marriage. If a family court judge is forced to make the decision regarding alimony, then he/she will take into account two main factors: the earning capacity of each spouse, and the standard of living each spouse became accustomed to during the marriage. Other factors that might be taken into account include the length of the union, outstanding debts, and the health of each spouse.
The term, “permanent spousal support,” is a bit imprecise, as permanent spousal support does not necessarily last forever. In fact, it is rare for spousal support to last for the entirety of the receiving party’s life. For marriages lasting under 10 years, alimony will last no longer than half the length of the union. For marriages over 10 years, there is no exact rule for determining how long alimony payments will last. The judge will generally try to give the lower-earning spouse enough time to become self-supporting.
When divorcing from a partner with whom you have children, custody of the child must be determined. As with spousal and child support, child custody can be determined by the involved parents outside of the courtroom, or in a family court setting if a cooperative agreement cannot be reached between the parents.
There are four main forms of child custody. Sole legal custody is when one parent gets to make all of the decisions regarding the welfare, health, and education of a child. Joint legal custody is when the responsibility for these decisions is shared between the two parents. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the court will grant joint legal custody in order to give each parent a chance to be involved in the life of their children. If two parents cannot agree on an important life decision for their child, such as a choice of school, the two parents will have to return to court and let the judge make the decision. In this situation, it is recommended that you speak with a resident Escondido lawyer, who has experience litigating these issues in the county. The other two forms of custody are associated with physical custody. Primary physical custody means the child will primarily live with one parent, and the other parent will only be able to see the other child through visitation. Joint physical custody means the child will spend substantial time living with each parent.
Find an Escondido Divorce Attorney Near Me
While you may feel as if you know a lot more now about the legalities of the divorce process after going through this web page, you still may have questions. Also, you may have realized that you would like to hire a divorce attorney in the near future to handle your divorce case. Call 858-529-5150 in order to talk with a top-rated divorce attorney in Escondido employed by San Diego Divorce Attorney. This lawyer is available to answer any and all questions you might have, or even represent you in your divorce proceedings, inside or outside of court.