What You Need to Know About California Divorce Law

Attorney with hammer

When love doesn’t end up as “til death do us part,” you need to know your rights. There are many things to consider, both for your financial and legal rights. 

In California, family circumstances such as the number of years married, children, and spousal support will determine the rights and length of time for the divorce to be final. 

California is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that no party is found at fault in the divorce. The most common reason for filing is irreconcilable differences, meaning that you have exhausted all means of reconciling and still want to get a divorce. 

So, what are your rights in the state of California? Let’s take a look at them.

Division of Property

In California, your property is considered either separate or community property in the case of a divorce.

Separate Property

Separate property refers to any money or debt belonging to an individual before the marriage. The property may be:

  • Any real property owned – houses, rental properties, etc.
  • Any gifts or inheritances received from family or other individuals
  • Property in one individual’s name only during the marriage but not used by the other spouse or for the benefit of the marriage
  • Any property or debts designated as separate in a prenuptial agreement

Community Property 

This refers to any real property, money, or debt obtained during the marriage and benefits both parties. In California, this property is to be equally divided between both parties of the divorce. 

The type of property considered community are:

  • House
  • Car
  • Furniture
  • Clothing
  • Bank accounts and cash
  • Pension plans and retirement accounts
  • Business
  • Patents

If there is no legal way to divide equally, both parties will need to agree on the property’s distribution. 

Commingling Property

When there is a combination of community and separate property, this is called commingling property. 

For example, if a spouse owned a house before the marriage and sold it after getting married, using the profits as a down-payment on a new home, the down-payment is considered separate property. But if the house payment is made using both parties’ income, the equity is deemed commingled. 

It can get complicated separating commingled assets. Your lawyer and the courts use different methods to trace the assets’ origin and determine how to divide them. It’s best to consult a lawyer to figure out the best way to approach dividing commingled assets. 

Same-Sex Marriage & Divorce

The U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal nationwide in 2015. In California, same-sex divorce is the same as a heterosexual divorce. 

As long as you meet the legal requirements, including residency, the divorce will proceed as usual. Property and child support are also treated equally under California law. 

Spousal Support (also known as Entitlements)

Upon divorce, you may be entitled to spousal support. There are specific requirements to determine eligibility for entitlements. The spousal order outlines the amount a spouse or domestic partner pays the other party. 

The following conditions qualify for spousal support are:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Any issues of domestic violence
  • The age and health conditions of both parties
  • Ability to pay by supporting spouse
  • Tax consequences
  • The goal of self-support

If you feel you are entitled to spousal support or want to know your options, your lawyer can advise if you meet the requirements and how to proceed.

Child Custody & Support

Child custody and child support can get messy and complicated. It’s best to work with your lawyer to determine the best way to proceed. California custody and support laws do provide guidelines for determination. 

The court uses the following criteria to determine child support:

  • Net income of both parents
  • Age of children
  • Time children spend with each spouse
  • Who declares children as dependent for tax purposes
  • Retirement plan contributions
  • Health insurance costs
  • Mortgage interest and property taxes of both parents

As far as custody of children goes, there are two types: Joint & Sole custody. Joint custody is when both parents share the rights and responsibility for the child(ren) to make decisions on health, welfare, and education. 

For sSole custody, one parent has the full responsibility of health, education, and welfare of the children(ren). In joint custody, the children(ren) spends time with both parents as determined by each party and the court. When sole custody is determined, the children(ren) live with one parent, and the other parent has visitation as determined by the courts. 

Where to Find Help

At Azemika & Azemika, our law firm’s practice specializes in the field of family law. As a result, we can handle divorce cases, dissolution of domestic partnerships, child custody, visitation, child and spousal support, paternity, abandonment, and adoptions. 

With efficiency and great attention to detail, our partners at Azemika & Azemika Law use our vast experience in family law to customize each case to our clients’ needs. Contact us today for a free case consultation.

Child Custody and Visitation Facts for California Dads

Child Custody and Visitation Facts for California Dads

“I want a divorce.” These are the last words any husband wants to hear.

It’s inevitable. You’re getting a divorce lawyer, and you have to start considering how things will change (from your belongings to your life). You have to split the “estate,” from your shared belongings to money and other assets. 

But what about the kids? Who gets the kids and when? 

Unfortunately, according to the American Psychological Association, divorce happens to 40 to 50% of married couples in the United States. The divorce rate for future marriages is even higher. 

But only a small percentage of divorces go to court, usually due to a custody battle. 

For fathers, custody battles can be an incredibly challenging aspect of divorce, especially when considering what is best for the children. How do you know what your rights are as a father fighting for custody or visitation of your children? 

Navigating custody battles can be intimidating and a trying time for fathers, so knowing your rights and the facts will help you set any expectations for the process. 

Courts and the Law

Men aren’t legally at a disadvantage. According to California law, judges can’t make a decision regarding custody or visitation based on gender. 

As long as both parents are fit, California courts will offer both parents an equitable chance at custody. 

Entitlement

Plain and simple, entitlement doesn’t exist in the courts because judges can’t decide based on gender. 

This decision isn’t about what you want or think you deserve. The judge’s decision will be based on the best interest of the child. In most cases, the courts believe that the best situation is for the child to have both parents in the picture — known as frequent and continuing contact

Parenting Roles

What did your world look like before the divorce? What was your daily routine? What was your child’s? 

Considering what life was like before the divorce, the judge will decide with one goal in mind: not to disrupt the child’s life. Keeping everything as normal as possible and moving forward in the child’s best interest is the primary goal. 

The court will consider how time was used before the divorce (by both parents) and how responsibilities were divided. If you worked 60 hours a week before the divorce, do you plan to after the divorce is finalized? Will this leave a reasonable amount of time for parenting and quality time? 

Two Types of Custody

There are two lines of custody when it comes down to how the courts decide what is in the child’s best interest.

1. Legal Custody

Legal custody involves making decisions about the child regarding several things, including schooling, organizations, travel, health specialists, and extracurricular activities. 

2. Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where the child is and when. This form of custody takes into account the child’s primary residence, visitation times, primary custody agreements, and more. 

Generally, physical custody results in the child spending more time with one parent than the other, even if a joint custody agreement is reached. It’s near impossible for time to be split exactly 50/50 in every situation. 

Four Types of Visitation 

Shared time is essential to any parent facing a divorce situation. Time with both parents is important to a balanced upbringing. California courts select one of four visitation types based on what is best for the child and other factors. 

1. Scheduled Visitation

Visitation on a schedule prevents any miscommunication or confusion regarding who sees the child and when. Specific dates and times will be agreed upon by the parents and the court. 

2. Reasonable Visitation

This open-ended form of visitation allows for the parents to agree on their own. This type of visitation requires solid co-parenting skills from each parent.  

3. Supervised Visitation

Supervised visitation requires that the visitation with one parent be monitored by the other parent or an agency professional. This type of visitation is typically used for the child’s safety and well-being when one parent is not deemed fit to be alone with the child. 

4. No Visitation

Suppose time with one parent would be physically or emotionally harmful to the child. In that case, the child’s best interest is for the parent not to contact them. 

Consult with an Attorney For Advice

When facing a custody battle, you need the best representation possible — a lawyer that knows the judge and court as well as one who can help you fight for your rights as a parent who wants what is best for their child. 

Azemika & Azemika Law in Bakersfield has helped families navigate divorce and child custody cases for more than 30 years, providing strong trust behind their legal guidance. 

For a family-oriented firm at an affordable cost, contact Azemika & Azemika Law today.

California Child Adoption Requirements

California Child Adoption Requirements

Adoption is a legal agreement under which the foster parents become personally liable concerning the child they adopt and gain all legal parental rights.

If you hope to achieve your parenting aspirations, it can be a great way to create or extend your family by bringing a child into your household and your heart. Indeed, each year in California, hundreds of thousands of successful adoption processes take place. In this way, many children who otherwise would not have their own families have become part of loving households. 

Their adoptive parents provide them with the treatment, security, and opportunity they need for safe personal development and growth.

Nevertheless, the process of child adoption in California can be life-changing, but also challenging and even confusing at times. It is also necessary for prospective adoptive parents to meet early on with a professional adoption attorney to know their options and better understand California child adoption laws.

Each state has its adoption process and laws, but the procedure will vary significantly for families in various states. As a native of California, you may want to consult with an adoption agency or adoption specialist who is very experienced with California child adoption laws and policies. 

California Child Adoption Laws and Requirements

Adoption law comes under family law, which is regulated largely by individual states and differs greatly across the world.

The following are some significant factors in the adoption process and stepparent adoption in California:

1. Financial Status Requirements

Although you do not have to buy your own house to become an adoptive parent or reach a predetermined income standard, we have all heard the anecdotes of how much it takes to raise a child. 

Therefore, financial status, especially in single-parent adoptions, is often a concern. The court may require evidence that you can help and provide for the child as your benefits will come from employment, a pension, or disability compensation. 

A history of stable work can be seen by most courts not only as a symbol of financial security, but also as evidence of transparency and maturity. Outside the home, all members of a married pair or domestic partnership can work.

2.  Requirements for an International Adoption in California

As long as the adoption is finalized in a country of the Hague Convention, California will accept international adoption edicts issued under the laws of the United States and the country which authorized the adoption. In California, readoption is voluntary but may be necessary by the U.S. Homeland Security Agency. Readoption is the method of updating and legitimizing international recognition by a state court.

The procedure entails at least one in-home visit and filing the adoption appeal, the report of the interregional adoption court, financial records, the report of the home study, and the final order of adoption. 

A California birth certificate can be received by each California citizen who adopts internationally. Upon issuance of an adoption statement from the court or a readoption order, the state registration may create a new birth certificate.

3. Criminal Background Check

As part of adoption hearings, most states require a criminal background check. Minor violations, such as outstanding fines for parking, are generally of no significance. More serious allegations, however, may be a cause for worry and may affect adoption hearings. Of course, previous allegations of child abuse or neglect preclude an individual from being an adoptive parent.

4. Adopter’s age requirements

In the adoption process, always keep in mind that you should be at least ten years older than the child you are adopting. This age gap is part of adopting a child in California according to their child adoption laws.

5. Complete Home Study Examination

If you are planning to adopt a child in California, you must conduct a home study examination. This criterion for the adoption process and child adoption laws exists to show that you can provide the child with a secure, caring family and a peaceful environment. 

Also, the social worker appointed to your case will help you consider what sorts of choices could be better for your family, address your needs, and assist you in planning for the adoption process.

During the home study investigation, you will need to:

  • Submit your fingerprints
  • Subject to a physical test (A doctor’s note stating that you do not have any life-threatening or life-shortening diseases)
  • Attend lessons of an adoption school
  • Complete at least one separate social worker interview
  • A minimum of two trips to your home to see you and the child
  • Verification of working status and income.

Get Legal Assistance to Help You Meet California Adoption Requirements

Over the past 28 years, our partners at Azemika & Azemika have all successfully handled the most difficult and high asset family law cases in Kern County and we can help you, too. 
We are family law specialists and we understand that each case is as unique as the clients we represent. For comprehensive representation in the adoption process, contact us today.