Dissolution of Marriage

There are two reasons that the court accepts for obtaining a Dissolution of Marriage:  irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity. In the years of practice, we have never seen anyone requesting a dissolution on the basis of incurable insanity. If one person states the differences are irreconcilable, then the court must grant the dissolution of marriage. One of the parties cannot prevent the other party from obtaining a dissolution. It does not have to be by mutual agreement. The threat "I'll never give you a divorce" is an empty threat in California. 

We used to call it divorce. Most people still do. However, the State of California has made a concerted effort to minimize the hostility at the break up of the marriage and has renamed Divorce to Dissolution of Marriage. The ending of the marriage is viewed the same as the ending of a partnership which is dissolved at its conclusion. The end result of the process is that a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is signed by the Judge which dissolves the marriage and returns the parties to an unmarried status.

There are recurring issues in a Dissolution of Marriage.

The first is community property which is defined as what the parties accumulated during the marriage from their earnings.

The court also has jurisdiction over the separate property of the parties in the dissolution process. Separate property is defined as property that a husband or wife had at the time of the marriage and property acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance. Separate property is confirmed to the party who acquired it as mentioned above.

The community property is divided between the parties as the law requires an equal division unless the parties agree otherwise.

If there are children of the marriage, the court must make custody and visitation orders. California requires that the parties either reach an agreement on their own or participate in a court ordered mediation. Each county has their own mediation procedures; but, each county has started mediation orientation where the mother and father of the children can learn about custody laws, the mediation process, and how to develop a custody and visitation schedule.

If there are children, child support is also determined in the Dissolution of Marriage process. There are state mandated formulas which are used to determine child support. For a more in-depth look at the factors of child support, go to our web page entitled Child Support.

Spousal Support is also a consideration in a Dissolution of Marriage process.  Typically, if there is a need, the  high earner contributes to the support of the low earner. If the marriage is ten years or less, the court presumes that support will last for one-half the length of the marriage. For a marriage of more than ten  years, the presumption is that the support will last until the supported spouse becomes self-supporting or the paying spouse is unable to pay. For more details about how spousal support is calculated, go to our web page entitled  Spousal Support.

If one party needs assistance with the payment of attorney fees and the other party is able to contribute, the court can make an order that the high earner contribute to the attorney fees of the low earner. This is not automatic, but is discretionary with the court.