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California divorce attorneyLove and loyalty are not the only considerations made by couples considering divorce. Beyond issues of emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being, there is the question of wealth. Specifically, how are assets divided when spouses divorce in the state of California?

The answers to this question are complex and bear heavily on related matters of child support, spousal support, and the ownership of real property and personal property. Governing all such inquiries is California’s status as a “community property” state in matters of divorce. An experienced Cupertino divorce attorney will understand precisely how California’s community property laws will apply to the division of assets and liabilities in the event of a marriage’s dissolution.

The Marital Economic Community Is Relevant to a California Divorce

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Posted on in Divorce

California divorce lawyerIf you are going through a divorce in the Santa Clara County and have signed a prenuptial agreement, you may wonder how it will affect your proceedings. In many cases, prenups simplify the divorce process, as these agreements dictate how property will be divided. Property division can be one of the most contentious aspects of divorces.

However, there are many requirements a prenup agreement must meet in order for the court to enforce it in full, as written and signed by the parties. If you seek to invalidate a prenup agreement, it is important to be aware of common mistakes that can be made. If you seek to enforce a prenup agreement, it is critical to identify weaknesses in the agreement and formulate a defense as to why the contract should be enforced.

In general, California follows the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which is a set of recommended laws adopted individually, in whole or in part, by states across the country. Some of the requirements and prohibitions found in UPAA include:

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California divorce lawyerTo get a divorce in California, only one spouse needs to request it. California is a no fault divorce state, meaning one spouse can file for divorce citing irreconcilable differences, and the divorce will be granted. While most states have a no fault divorce option, some states allow parties to cite a reason for the marriage dissolution, such as infidelity or cruelty.

Because California allows for marriages to end without spouses giving a specific reason and based on one spouse’s desires alone, it is possible to divorce someone who you cannot locate. California law recognizes that due to the nature of divorces, a spouse may not know where to find the other spouse. Thus, California has a statutory procedure for serving court papers, when the address of the opposing party is unknown.

Service of Process Procedure

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California divorce lawyer, California mediation attorneyThere are certain situations under California law where one spouse may be entitled to receive spousal support from the other spouse after a divorce. The point of spousal support – also referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance – is to provide income for a spouse who either does not work or was earning a much lower wage than the other spouse, such as where one spouse gave up their career to be a stay-at-home parent and raise the children.

Another purpose of alimony is to assist the lower-earning spouse in maintaining the standard of living they were accustomed to during the marriage until they are in a better financial position. In order to determine if support is warranted, the court will look at several different factors. The first factor is the gross income of the marriage. Under the California Family Code, income can include:

  • Wages;
  • Salary;
  • Bonuses;
  • Commissions;
  • Dividends;
  • Royalties; and
  • Trust income.

Once the income of each spouse is determined, those figures are entered into an alimony calculator. The calculator also requires input of the length of the marriage. Under the law, if a couple has been married for less than 10 years, support will not be ordered for any longer than half the amount of years the couple were married. For marriages over 10 years, the amount of time spousal support may be an extended period, if not indefinite.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_property-division_20170314-152211_1.jpgCalifornia is one of the many no-fault divorce states, meaning that no grounds for divorce are required to exist other than one party believing the marriage is beyond repair. Fault states are no longer common and the ones that still require grounds for a divorce require the couple to prove that a spouse did something wrong. In these situations, the faulty party suffered during litigation, especially with property division and custody concerns. Which of the divorcing parties is to blame no longer plagues courts in no-fault divorce states.

How does the court divide the community property?

If fault does not exist, how does one side “win” a divorce litigation case? In states such as California, there is no clear “winner” or “loser”. Even if evidence of adultery or abandonment are brought to the attention of the court, legally this evidence is irrelevant to the case and is not typically considered in the division of community property. A judge determines what is “fair and equitable” by considering all of the debts and assets within the community property, the property attained during the tenure of the marriage. What community property assets and debts is the question. The community property and debts are equally divided between the parties.

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