How Fast Can I Get a Divorce in California?

It’s not uncommon for spouses to be in a hurry to get through the divorce process. Depending on the separation circumstances, they may be in quite a hurry to move on with their lives. Whatever the reason, people often feel that they can’t wait to get their divorce behind them, and it’s one of the most common concerns divorce attorneys hear the most.

So how fast can someone get a divorce in California? According to California divorce laws, couples can only get divorced if they’ve lived in the state for at least six months. Bar that, the only other factors are how quickly you and your spouse can agree to the issues addressed by divorce. Here are some of the events that can speed up or (slow down) a California divorce.

Incomplete or Improperly-Filed Paperwork

Many people seeking to divorce as quickly as possible believe the first step is to file the relevant paperwork with their court. They may feel such a hurry that they do this themselves. Unfortunately, this approach often creates the first costly hurdle in expediting the process.

The first step should instead be to seek out an experienced family law attorney. A California family law attorney will make sure everything is filled out and filed correctly on your behalf. Any errors you make with the paperwork will delay the remainder of the divorce process and only serve to drag out the process and make it more costly than it already is, so save yourself the trouble and contact legal counsel early. 

Even if you do complete the initial paperwork on your own, an attorney can help you in other areas of the divorce, especially if you and your spouse aren’t on the best terms and communication breaks down (as if often does at one point or another during the process). 

You’re also required to serve notice to your spouse that you’ve filed for divorce, which you can do on the same day you file. From here, your spouse has thirty days to file a response. If they respond, and how they respond, could set a trial in motion. If they choose not to respond, a judge may make a default judgment. However, California has a mandatory six-month waiting period starting from when you serve your spouse before a judge’s decision goes into effect. That means that even a quick ruling won’t go into effect until that six-month period ends. 

Disagreements Between Spouses

When it comes time for the division of property in divorce, California follows community property standards. The law defines community property as any assets (including property and income) that either party in a marriage acquired during the marriage. With community property, the division of property in a divorce sees each side getting half the total value of all assets.

Commingling property complicates this and is often where disagreements emerge. Property is commingling if its ownership can’t immediately be defined. The property you owned before getting married remains yours, but other circumstances can complicate matters. Often, this happens when one spouse helps another make payments for something, or they agree to share something before getting married.

You and your spouse can avoid commingling property issues if you can agree on how to separate property. California courts allow for couples to draw up their own agreements to split assets. However, an inability to cooperate will lead to even more delays as the judge and lawyers try to sort it out.

The same thing can occur with child custody disputes, child support, and alimony payments. In all of these instances, couples can work with their lawyers to draw up their own agreements and have them approved by a judge. Not doing so leads to an extensive discovery process designed to give the judge the most evidence possible so that they can make an appropriate ruling. 

Maintaining communication, no matter how difficult, is essential to resolving your divorce as quickly as possible. If you find you can’t cooperate with your spouse, your lawyers can work as mediators. If you are unable to work with your spouse to reach amicable agreements for some reason, it falls on the court to do its work. Unfortunately, there’s no timeframe for how long it has to take and no guarantee that the court will do it quickly. 

Disrupting the Process or Not Cooperating

It may sound similar to the previous point, but it’s very different. Instead of focusing on how you communicate with your spouse during proceedings, we’re talking about your attitude. How you act towards anyone involved in the divorce can have consequences, including slowing the whole process down.

People know that they shouldn’t be combative during their divorce, but it’s still an emotionally trying time for everyone involved. Still, it would be best if you practiced controlling yourself. Lashing out at others or being defensive only serves to interrupt things. In particularly bad cases, being combative will cast you in a poor light and likely affect the final ruling.

You should also be concerned with how you interact with your lawyer. You’ve hired them to help you, but they may choose to stop providing their services if you don’t treat them with respect. You also need to be honest with them. With issues like child custody and property and divorce, clients sometimes hide relevant information to protect themselves or try to skew the final verdict in their favor. Doing so not only leads to a lengthier discovery process but can convince your lawyer to leave your case.

The key to getting your divorce settled is to work with the proceedings. Do what’s asked of you by the judge and your lawyer. Don’t do anything to obstruct the proceedings or could be seen as trying to derail things. If you have pressing concerns, address them to your lawyer in private.

Notes On Uncontested Divorce

A divorce trial only happens when your spouse files an objection after you initially serve them. If they agree to the divorce, you can avoid a trial entirely. Remember that you still need to wait through the six-month grace period before it’s official, but if you want a fast divorce, an uncontested divorce is ideal.

If you and your spouse agree to divorce before you file, you and your lawyers can also work out agreements beforehand to make the process even faster. Your lawyer can help finalize arrangements before presenting them to a judge. If accepted, there won’t be a trial.

Azemika Law Can Help You

If you need help understanding the complexities of California divorce laws or would like an experienced attorney to help you work through divorce as efficiently as possible, call on our attorneys at Azemika & Azemika
We are experts in Kern County family law who bring compassion and honesty to everything that we do. We’ll treat you and your family with respect and confidentiality as we help you achieve the best outcome possible. Contact us today to learn more about our expertise and what we can do to help you.

How Is Child Support Calculated in California?

An order to pay child support is one of the most emotionally-draining aspects of a divorce or separation. We understand that it is one of the hardest things to go through and can be one of the most overwhelming. Every state utilizes its own guidelines for establishing child support. While they share some similarities, they can ultimately be very different. 

But how does California calculate child support? 

Depending on your case’s specifics, it may not be as simple as you would hope. If you’re like most people, you’ve never thought to look into how California determines child support before filing for divorce. Let’s take a look at the particulars of California state law.

Understanding Child Support

When dealing with child custody, judges in California must rule in the child’s best interest. The same applies to child support orders. One or both parents may be required to pay child support to cover necessary living expenses for their child.

There are two key factors judges use to determine child support. The first is the total income of each parent. Both parties will be required to fill out an Income and Expense Declaration, which will determine the final estimates. A divorce attorney from our firm can assist you in completing the form. 

The second is what’s referred to as the time-share. How much time you spend with your child gets broken down into a percentage and used with your income to determine who will be paying child support and receiving it. 

It’s possible to determine what your child support responsibilities might be beforehand. The California government provides an online calculator here that includes all the factors of the state’s guidelines. Thoroughly reading the calculator requires knowledge of California law, but one of our lawyers can help you understand what it all means.

5 Common Questions About Child Support in California

We know there are likely many questions swirling around in your head when trying to figure out how to calculate what your child support could be. We’ve answered a few of the most common questions for you.

1. What About Multiple Children?

If you have multiple children, you’ll have to make payments for each child. A judge will use the first calculation to determine each payment. However, older children will receive smaller payments than younger kids. 

2. What Does Child Support Cover?

There are specific things a parent’s child support payments are supposed to cover. These also factor into the overall payment amount. However, keep in mind that child support ensures that both parents share the responsibility in covering expenses.

All child support orders cover the basics of food, clothes, healthcare/insurance, and housing costs. Again, the party paying child support won’t be paying the entirety of these costs, just contributing. Though some other costs may not apply to your situation, these are mandatory.

Other costs that aren’t required but a judge may still order include medical bills, school-related costs (including extracurricular activities), and professional child care costs. Parents can elect to include other costs as part of child support, even if a judge doesn’t order them.

3. How Long Does Child Support Last?

As the name would imply, child support assists in raising children, but the commonly-held legal definition of an adult doesn’t necessarily apply here. While age certainly plays a role in determining when support stops, it’s isn’t always the only one. The only time that age is the sole factor is when a child turns nineteen.

A child support order may end when a child turns eighteen, but only if they have graduated high-school. An eighteen-year-old who is still a student, even if only part-time, is still considered a child and will require support. Child support payments end automatically once they are nineteen, even if they haven’t graduated.

If your child becomes independent through marriage or joining the military, they are no longer eligible to receive child support. Usually, this only happens once they are eighteen but may occur at a younger age depending on their location. You also cease to pay support for a child that has passed away.

The only time child support continues past nineteen is in the case of disability. If a court determines that a disabled adult cannot take care of themself due to their condition, they may order child support payments to continue. Such orders can continue until their condition improves, or longer if their situation doesn’t improve and allow them to provide for themselves. 

4. Is Child Support Flexible in Any Way?

California created a set of rules for determining child support called the Guideline. While the Guideline utilizes a formula to determine child support payments, the state legislature recognizes that there are unique circumstances that they must account for to maintain fairness. A judge is required to acknowledge these factors when devising the final order.

The most significant variable that can alter support payments is a large discrepancy between both parents’ income. A payer who makes considerably more money than their ex-spouse will end up paying more, but the amount may be changed. The law allows this to prevent a parent from paying more than their share of expenses. 

Something similar can happen when comparing time-share. A judge will consider how much time a parent gets to spend with their child and compare it to the financial support they provide. A parent who pays most child-rearing expenses but doesn’t get to spend much time with them may see their financial responsibilities diminish.

Of course, some factors can increase child support beyond the usual calculations. A child with a medical condition that results in high expenses will need more significant aid to have their needs met. 

Keep in mind that a judge may change the order any time after ordering it as well. Often, this can occur due to a change in the children’s or one of the parent’s lives. If reported to a judge, they may deem a necessary change. Parents can also agree to make changes with the court’s consent or challenging aspects of the order.

5. What If I Can’t Pay Child Support?

If you miss a payment, it’s best to try and resolve the matter quickly. California will go through multiple avenues to recover the missed compensation. On top of that, the state adds ten percent interest to missed payments, increasing the amount you owe. In especially bad cases, you could face severe legal consequences.

If you can’t meet your payment obligations, it’s best to talk to a family law attorney as soon as you can. Depending on why you missed your payment, you may be able to change the terms of your child support order.

Hire Azemika Law for Your Child Support Case

Our team at Azemika & Azemika has been practicing in Kern County family law for over thirty years. If you need a family law attorney to help with your divorce, child visitation or support, custody, or adoption, you can count on us.
For comprehensive representation in any child custody and child support matter, call Azemika & Azemika Law. We will fight for and protect you and your family during the separation and divorce process. Contact us online or by phone to arrange an initial consultation with our attorneys.