Facts About Divorce
Facts About Divorce
Brian Don Levy (Attorney-at-Law, Family Law Mediator and Arbitrator) gives expert video advice on: Can couples that were never legally married get a divorce?; What factors should I consider before deciding upon divorce? and more...
What is a "divorce"?
A divorce is a legal process where married couples become single again. During the divorce process, their assets and their debts get divided. Their children have parenting plans, and sometimes other issues are addressed through divorce, like drinking, drugs or domestic violence.
Can couples that were never legally married get a divorce?
In California, couples that were never legally married are not eligible for a divorce. Remember that getting a divorce means that you're moving from being a married person to the status of a single person. So if you've been living with someone, to whom you were not legally married and you have issues regarding, for example, property that was acquired while you were living together, that would be a civil matter and you would be dealt with in small claims court or civil court. You would not find yourself in Family Law court.
Can couples that entered into a domestic partnership get a divorce?
All of the same issues that divorcing parties have would apply to domestic partners who want to go their separate ways. You would be talking about dividing property, dividing debt, parenting issues, custody, visitation, child support and spousal support, all issues raised in divorce.
Is it true that half of all marriages end in divorce?
What I do know is the divorce rate is really high. And I know that when you make general statements about people, there are always exceptions, but what I've found to be true generally is that people get divorced generally because they got married for the wrong reasons. And typically, men, you marry women hoping they'll never change. And women, you marry men hoping to change them.
What factors should I consider before deciding upon divorce?
When you're thinking about divorce, you should probably do some self-reflection first. For example, if you're forty years old and you've been married for nineteen years, and maybe had a relationship before you got married, you have half of your life invested in this relationship. Maybe you can fix it. Maybe you should spend some time and effort in counseling and therapy before deciding on divorce. Maybe there are drug or alcohol issues that you want your or your partner to address. If you got married for the wrong reason, and you're in a short term marriage, maybe divorce is right for you. A gentleman called me the other day and told me he's been married for six months and he got married to save money on his car insurance. Bad choice. Maybe that's a relationship that isn't worth fixing. I think you have to look at where you are in life, and ask yourself where you want to be, and how you're going to get there.
Do I need a reason to get a divorce?
California is a no-fault divorce state. The reason to get a divorce in California would be a statutory reason, and it's called "irreconcilable differences." When divorcing parties go into court, they look at the judge and say, "We have irreconcilable differences," and they don't really define with that is. The irreconcilable difference could be that a spouse has a boyfriend or a girlfriend, or it could be you simply don't like the way your spouse looks anymore.
Can my spouse or myself deny a request for a divorce?
In California, a spouse cannot stop the other spouse from getting a divorce. It's going to happen. The options for a spouse are to go along with the divorce, or prolong the divorce process, slow it down, make it more difficult, but people in California are entitled to a divorce and there's really no way a spouse can stop that from happening.
How long do divorces take?
I'm frequently asked how long a divorce takes, and I find that divorce is really a reflection of the parties. What I mean by that is that some people come in and say, "We have an agreement. We want you to just write it up, walk it through." That divorce can be done in as little as 2-3 months. Being restored to the status of a single person takes six months in California. However, I've had divorces that lasted nine years, and the husband and wife fought over everything, every issue, every detail, every plate - everything. There's no boilerplate or stock answer to the question. There are different issues in different families. Everybody has their own priority and everybody picks and chooses their own battle when it comes to divorce.
What is a "no-fault divorce"?
A no-fault divorce is a divorce that's based on a generic principle. In California, it's irreconcilable differences. Before we became a no-fault divorce state, we were a fault state, and the grounds for divorce were infidelity or extreme mental cruelty. When we were a fault state, you had to prove that your spouse was cheating on you before you could get a divorce, or you had to prove that something else was happening that met the statutory criteria. With the no-fault divorce, you go into court and you say, "We have irreconcilable differences. I want to be divorced." That's it.
What is an "uncontested divorce"?
An uncontested divorce is a divorce where the parties come to an agreement and submit that agreement to court. So there's no contest in court. Nobody's walking in to a court room and saying, "Your honor, we can't agree on this issue. We want you to make the call."