Exploring Divorce Timelines in California: How Long Does the Process Take

how long does divorce process take in california

After you’ve taken the steps to file for divorce, you are likely eager to get the process finalized so you can move on with your life. However, depending on the circumstances of your case, the divorce process in California can be a long, complicated process. Understanding the divorce process in California can help you navigate this challenging time more efficiently.

This article will discuss divorce in California. We will give you an overview of the divorce process to provide you with a general idea of how long it takes for a divorce to be finalized in California.

California: A ‘No Fault’ Divorce State

California is a no-fault divorce state. That means that either spouse can file for divorce without having to prove fault on the other spouse.

There are two types of grounds for divorce in California.

  1. Irreconcilable differences mean the couple cannot resolve their differences to save their marriage.
  2. Legal incapacity to make decisions can be used if one spouse has been determined “legally incapacitated” to make decisions by a doctor. This could be caused by illness, traumatic injury, or a psychological issue.

Mandatory Waiting Period

There is a mandatory waiting period of six months for a divorce in California. This waiting period gives the couple time to reconsider their decision to divorce. This waiting period applies even if you’ve been legally separated for over six months.

After the six-month waiting period has passed, the divorce will be finalized. It’s important to note that this is the minimum amount of time a divorce can take in California. Many divorces can take longer to finalize.

The Divorce Process in California

The divorce process in California is outlined in the Family Code, Division 6, Part 3, Chapter 4, which provides legal guidelines for it. Let’s examine the steps involved in the divorce process in California.

Step #1 – Filing the Petition

The petitioner is the spouse who files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court. When this has been completed, the divorce proceedings begin. The petition details the grounds and specifics of the divorce.

Submitting paperwork that is completed properly is vital for a valid submission. Enlisting the services of a qualified divorce attorney can help streamline the process and ensure all forms are filed accurately and in a timely manner.

Step #2 – Service the Divorce Papers

Serving the divorce papers to your spouse (the respondent) is a legal requirement in California. Ensuring compliance with the serving requirements is vital to the divorce process. Your divorce attorney can assist you in serving divorce papers properly and timely.

Step #3 – Response

When you receive a divorce petition, quick action is essential. After being served, the respondent must file a response within 30 days. If they fail to respond, the court may proceed with a default judgment, potentially expediting the process.

Step #4 – Preliminary Disclosures

Both parties must exchange preliminary financial disclosures. These documents detail assets, debts, income, and expenses, ensuring transparency and fairness during the property division and determination of support. Filing to disclose financial information can significantly influence the outcome of the divorce.

Step #5 – Temporary Orders

Either spouse may request temporary orders to address immediate concerns such as child custody, child support, and the use of marital assets. These orders will remain in effect until the final judgment is issued.

Step #6 – Discovery

If your case is more complex, the discovery process allows both parties to obtain additional information from each other. This can involve depositions, subpoenas, and interrogatories.

Step #7 – Negotiation and Settlement

Many times, a couple can settle their divorce outside of court. Mediation can be a valuable tool for reaching an agreement that satisfies both parties and significantly reduces the time and cost involved in the divorce.

Step #8 – Trial

If the parties cannot agree, the case will proceed to trial. A judge will hear evidence and decide on unresolved issues. Trials can be time-consuming and add several months to the process.

Step #9 – Final Judgment

When all issues are resolved, the final judgment is prepared. The judge will review and sign the judgment, officially dissolving the marriage.

Realistic Timeframe to Finalize a California Divorce

The six-month waiting period is the minimum time it can take to finalize a divorce in California. It’s realistic to expect a California divorce to take eight to eighteen months to complete.

Uncontested divorces, where both parties agree on all terms, can be finalized closer to the six-month mark. Contested divorces, on the other hand, may extend beyond a year.

Turn to Azemika & Azemika If You’re Facing Divorce in California

Understanding the timeline and steps involved in a California divorce can help set realistic expectations and reduce some of the stress you may feel during the divorce process. While each case is unique, being informed and prepared can make a significant difference in navigating this challenging life transition.

At Azemika & Azemika, we understand that divorce is a difficult and emotional time. Our team is dedicated to minimizing the stress and uncertainty of divorce. With over three decades of experience in family law, we provide personalized, compassionate, and expert legal representation throughout the divorce process.

Our firm was selected as Best of Bakersfield for Divorce/Family Law attorney by The Bakersfield Californian for two years in a row. Contact us today to work with our award-winning team.

Navigating Property Division: Divorce and Your Mortgage in California

woman consulting with a lawyer about divorce and mortgage in california

Deciding to divorce can be one of the most challenging decisions a couple can make. Divorce is complex and involves the couple deciding what will happen to assets if there will be spousal support, child support, and custody, to name a few. One of the most common concerns is what will happen to their shared home and mortgage when they divorce in California.

Understanding how a mortgage is handled in a California divorce can help couples navigate this challenging time more smoothly. Here’s what happens to a mortgage when couples in California decide to part ways.

California: A Community Property State

California is a community property state. That means that during a divorce, couples must split all assets the couple acquired during the marriage equally. The only exception is if the couple signed a prenuptial agreement before the marriage. In that case, the prenup overrides community property laws.

On the other hand, you have separate property. Assets and debts are considered separate property when one spouse enters the marriage with them. Some types of separate property include property, financial gifts, or an inheritance received by one spouse, even if they received it during the marriage. Each spouse retains the total amount of their separate property in a divorce.

Is a Mortgage Community Property?

This is where things get a bit tricky. It is considered community property if you purchased your house after marriage or with funds you earned during the marriage.

The mortgage would be considered separate property if you purchased the house with your own money before marriage. However, a couple of circumstances could make the home considered community property.

  • Mortgage payments made jointly after the marriage would be considered a community interest in the property and evenly split in a divorce.
  • If you change the title to include your spouse, it will be considered marital property.

What Happens to a Mortgage in a California Divorce?

Regardless of what is stated in your divorce decree, if you and your spouse share a mortgage, you’re both still responsible for paying for it. While this may seem unfair, the mortgage lender is a separate entity, so the terms of your divorce don’t apply.

If you’re the spouse leaving the home, it can be concerning to continue making mortgage payments for a house you no longer live in. Fortunately, you have options.

Buyout

In a buyout, the spouse who remains in the home buys out the other spouse’s share of the equity in the house. To do this, the buying spouse must refinance the home in their name and pay the selling spouse their share of the equity. Since the buying spouse must independently qualify for a new mortgage, it can be challenging if their income alone is insufficient.

Sell the Home

One of the easiest solutions is to sell the home and divide the proceeds. This allows the mortgage to be paid off, and the remaining equity can be split between spouses. However, selling a home takes time and may not be in both parties’ best interest, especially if children are involved.

Co-Ownership

Some couples choose to continue to co-own the home after the divorce, especially if they want to maintain stability for their children. This arrangement requires a clear agreement on how expenses and mortgage payments will be handled and often involves setting a future date or event (such as children finishing school) when the home will be sold.

Defer Sale (Birdnesting)

Sometimes, couples may choose to defer the home sale until a later date. This can involve one spouse living in the house while the other maintains a different residence or both spouses rotating in and out of the home to minimize disruption for their children. This arrangement required detailed planning and cooperation.

Turn to the Award-Winning Team at Azemika & Azemika During Your Divorce

Divorce is a challenging life event, and dealing with a mortgage can add to the complexity. Because California is a community property state, it’s essential to understand your options and the legal framework clearly. By carefully reviewing the information in this article, you can navigate this aspect of your divorce with confidence and greater financial security.

Azemika & Azemika has been handling family law cases for over three decades. We understand the emotional toll divorce can have on you, so our dedicated team is here to help you every step of the way. We have handled some of the most challenging and high-asset family law cases in Kern County. We are here to provide that same aggressive, knowledgeable, and affordable representation to you in your case.

Our firm has been selected as Best of Bakersfield for Divorce and Family Law attorneys for two years running. Contact us today to work with our award-winning team.

Collaborative vs Cooperative Divorce: Differences Explained

collaborative

We’ve all seen movies where divorce is angry and dramatic. What can you do if you and your spouse decide it’s time to end your marriage but don’t want to go through that? If you and your spouse still get along well and don’t have any major disagreements about how you want to handle your divorce. In that case, California offers couples options other than traditional litigation to end their marriage.

Two increasingly popular alternatives to traditional divorce are collaborative and cooperative divorce. While these methods are similar, they have distinct characteristics that may appeal to different couples. This article will explore collaborative and cooperative divorces. We will highlight their differences and benefits and provide some factors couples should consider when divorcing in California.

Collaborative Divorce

A collaborative divorce is a process where a couple works with their attorneys to reach a mutual agreement without going to court. This approach emphasizes open communication, transparency, and a commitment to resolving disputes amicably.

Here’s how a collaborative divorce typically works.

  • Each spouse hires a specially trained attorney to guide them through the divorce process. Other professionals, such as financial advisors, child specialists, or therapists, may also be involved in addressing specific issues.
  • Both parties provide full financial disclosure, which fosters trust and honesty. This transparency allows for more informed decision-making and reduces the likelihood of conflicts or surprises later in the process.
  • Couples should identify their interests and needs and explore creative solutions and compromises. This will allow them to fulfill their unique circumstances and priorities without focusing on legal arguments or positions.
  • The goal is to reach a settlement agreement outside of court. This can save time and money and empower couples to maintain control of the outcome of their divorce.

Cooperative Divorce

Cooperative divorce is similar to a collaborative divorce but typically less formalized. Cooperation and negotiation are emphasized but may not involve the same level of specialized training or professional support.

Here’s how a cooperative divorce typically works.

  • The couple may work with a mediator or a traditional family law attorney.
  • Couples are encouraged to engage in constructive communication to find common ground. Although there may be a different level of support than a collaborative divorce, they can address issues like property division, child custody, and support payments through negotiation.
  • A cooperative divorce aims to minimize conflict and promote a smoother transition for the spouses and any children involved by prioritizing cooperation.
  • If the couple finds they cannot resolve an issue at any point during the cooperative divorce process, the court can intervene. Although this isn’t the preferred outcome, it’s an option if necessary.

4 Factors to Consider for Couples Divorcing in California

Before deciding if a collaborative or cooperative divorce is the right choice for your situation, there are some factors you should consider.

1. Complexity of Issues

Will your divorce involve complex financial assets, business interests, or contentious custody arrangements? If so, a collaborative divorce may be the right choice as it offers the specialized support and structure necessary to address these issues effectively.

2. Level of Cooperation

Are you able to cooperate and communicate with your spouse? A cooperative approach may suit your situation if you can work together constructively with minimal professional intervention.

3. Professional Guidance

Before making this decision, consult an experienced family law attorney or mediator. They will be able to explain the differences between collaborative and cooperative divorce and help determine which approach is best for your goals and circumstances.

4. Cost and Time Considerations

How much time and money can you put into your divorce? Collaborative divorce can involve a more substantial initial cost because multiple professionals are involved, but it can be more cost-effective in the long run compared to litigation. A cooperative divorce may be a more affordable option for couples looking for a less formal approach.

Choose Azemika & Azemika as Your Trusted Partner When Navigating Your Divorce

Both collaborative and cooperative divorces are practical alternatives to traditional litigations for couples seeking an amicable divorce in California. Whether you choose collaborative or cooperative divorce, seeking guidance from an experienced divorce attorney can help you make informed decisions and move forward confidently.

Choosing the proper representation for your divorce can significantly impact the outcome of your case. At Azemika & Azemika, our partners have over sixty-four combined years of experience handling family law cases. Our team will be your partner, advocate for your best interests, and guide you through every step of your divorce.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Date of Separation in California Divorce: What You Need to Know

california divorce

We know that a couple begins their married life on the date they sign their marriage certification, but the date that the marriage ends is more complicated to determine. A couple of dates could be considered the legal end of the marriage, the date the divorce decree is issued and the divorce is finalized, or the date of separation.

The date of separation is often overlooked and misunderstood. However, it holds significant weight in a California divorce and can impact multiple aspects of the divorce process. This article will discuss the date of separation, why it matters, and how it is determined.

What is the Date of Separation?

The date of separation is when a married couple stops living together as spouses. California defines it as when one spouse expresses their intent to end the marriage and takes action that shows a complete and final break in the marriage. The intent has to be communicated to the other spouse through actions or verbally.

It’s important to note that physical separation alone doesn’t necessarily establish the date of separation. Couples may live apart for many reasons, such as travel, work, or trial separations, without intending to end their marriage. On the other hand, a couple may choose to continue to live together but consider themselves separated because of irreconcilable differences.

Why Does the Date of Separation Matter?

The date of separation is vital in the divorce process and can significantly impact the proceedings. Here are some reasons why it is so important.

Division of Assets and Debts

California is a community property state. That means community property is divided evenly between the spouses in a divorce. Any income earned and all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are considered community property and will be part of the property division. Determining the date of separation is vital in identifying what assets and debts are subject to division in a divorce.

Duration of Marriage

The date of separation also affects the duration of the marriage, which can impact spousal support. If a marriage lasts ten years or more, the court is more likely to award long-term spousal support. Therefore, establishing the date of separation can determine the duration of spousal support payments.

Post-Separation Income and Expenses

After the date of separation, each spouse’s income and expenses are considered separate property. The date of separation is essential to determining each spouse’s financial obligations during the divorce process, including child and spousal support.

Preserving Separate Property

Clarifying the date of separation safeguards each spouse’s separate property interests. Property acquired and debts incurred after the date of separation are separate property is considered separate property and will belong solely to the acquiring spouse. This reduces the risk of commingling assets and making property division more complicated.

Cohabitation Issues

There have been times when disputes arise over whether spouses were actually separated or continued to live together as a married couple after claiming a date of separation. Proving the actual date of separation can help resolve these disputes and prevent accusations of fraud.

How the Date of Separation is Determined

Determining the date of separation can be complex and requires evidence and documentation to support the claim. While an outright declaration of the intent to divorce is ideal, establishing the date of separation often involves factors such as:

  • Physical Separation — Evidence of separate residences, such as lease agreements, utility bills, or mail forwarding, can help establish the claim of physical separation.
  • Communication of Intent — Verbal or written communication stating the intent to end the marriage, such as texts, emails, and letters, can help establish the date of separation.
  • Financial Separation — Separate bank accounts, filing separate tax returns, and dividing financial assets can demonstrate the end of a marriage.
  • Behavior Changes — Changes in sleeping arrangements, social activities, or interactions with friends and family can signal a shift in the marital relationship.

The court will review relevant facts when determining the date of separation. So, if you communicate your desire to end your marriage but continue acting like you’re married publicly, the court may assign a later date for the separation.

Turn to Azemika & Azemika for Experienced Legal Representation for Your Divorce

By understanding the date of separation and its implications, couples can navigate the divorce process more effectively and reach a fair and equitable settlement. Consulting with an experienced divorce attorney can provide valuable guidance in establishing the date of separation and advocating for your rights and interests during the divorce.

At Azemika & Azemika, our experienced attorneys focus strictly on family law cases. This allows us to understand and tackle the complexities and emotional challenges accompanying divorce proceedings. Our goal is to provide knowledgeable and aggressive representation at an affordable cost to our family law clients in Kern County.

Contact us today for a consultation.

California Divorce: Who Pays for College After Divorce?

california divorce

One of the most common issues when children are involved in a divorce is child support. While parents are expected to financially support their children until they finish high school or are 18, child support does not cover college tuition or expenses.

Unlike other states, California doesn’t have a statute that requires postsecondary education to be factored into child support. Similarly, no specific guidelines are in place to determine how divorcing parents should split college expenses.

So, who pays for college expenses after a divorce? This article will explore how college expenses are typically handled in a California divorce and provide tips for divorcing parents on navigating this aspect of their divorce.

How to Address College Expenses After a California Divorce

College expenses are typically addressed in the divorce settlement or court order. That means you and the other parent can agree on how to handle college expenses, and when you include this in your divorce settlement agreement, it becomes legally binding. Here are some of the ways you can accomplish this.

Set Up a Trust or Escrow Account

To do this, you can set up a trust or escrow account with existing funds or pledge payments in the future to provide money for college. This can prevent one parent from breaking the agreement in the future, and the funds will only be available once the child starts college.

Establish a College Support Structure Payment

Another way to handle this is to add a section to your divorce settlement that establishes a college support structure payment. This makes payments enforceable under the law. Be sure to address potential issues such as limits on tuition, when and how payments will be made, and what expenses can be covered.

Set Up a Prepaid Tuition Plan

You can also voluntarily set up a prepaid tuition plan or as part of your divorce settlement. This option allows you to lock in tuition at today’s rate using regular installments or a lump-sum payment. The only drawback to this plan is that you must commit to a particular university or college in advance.

Apply for Financial Aid

You can also apply for grants and financial aid to cover your child’s college expenses. Some examples include:

Financial aid is awarded based on financial conditions. Speaking to a family law attorney can help determine which parent should apply.

Tips for Navigating College Expenses During a California Divorce

Here are some tips you can employ to help make determining who will pay for college expenses smoother.

  • Plan Early — Planning for college expenses as early as possible, ideally before the divorce process begins, will allow you and your co-parent to review your options and agree on how to handle the expenses.
  • Open Communication — Communicating openly with one another can help you successfully navigate college expenses during your divorce. You should be open and honest about your financial situation and work together to find a solution that is in your child’s best interest.
  • Turn to an Attorney — Consulting with a family law attorney with experience in California divorce is highly recommended. They can guide you on the legal aspects of college expenses and help parents understand their obligations and rights under California law.
  • Consider Medication — Mediation is an excellent way to resolve college expense disputes outside the courtroom. As a neutral third party, your mediator can facilitate discussions between parents and help them reach a mutually agreeable solution.
  • Focus on Your Child’s Best Interest — Your primary concern should be your child’s well-being and future success. Prioritize your child’s educational needs and work together to support them to succeed.

Get All Your Questions Answered by the Award-Winning Attorneys at Azemika & Azemika

Although the legal framework for addressing college expenses isn’t as straightforward as child support, parents divorcing in California can work together to meet their children’s educational needs. Divorce can be challenging, but with the right approach and support, parents can navigate the complex issue of college expenses to help their child pursue their academic goals.

At Azemika & Azemika, we are ready to help you prepare for your child’s college career by setting up a financial arrangement to help fund their higher education. Our firm has provided quality legal representation for Kern County for over thirty years and has been selected as “Best of Bakersfield for Divorce and Family Law Attorney” for two consecutive years.

If you’re ready to work with an award-winning team of family law attorneys, contact us today.

Thinking Of Delaying Your Divorce? Think Again!

delaying your divorce

Divorce is a life-changing event that is undoubtedly a hard, painful, and possibly traumatic end to a relationship that has lasted through a significant period of your life. Because of this, it is understandable many attempt to delay the inevitable as long as they can. Despite the divorce being put into action, the process can be dragged on for months, even years. 

It’s very common for those dealing with their old relationship’s issues to try and move on to rediscover themselves and make new plans for their life as a single person. Unfortunately, this may cause more trouble in the long run. It may be a way to delay the finality of the relationship. Still, it can affect many other parts of life, like finances, mental health, and other relationships.

Why You Should Push Forward With Your Divorce

As your divorce takes shape, it’s essential to move forward rather than have life stuck in one place. By not taking control over finalizing your divorce, it makes it increasingly difficult to heal and move to a more positive future. Regardless of your feelings about the situation, it would help if you acted quickly to avoid any proceedings snowballing into legal battles or complex arguments. 

We’ve gathered some important reasons to help you understand the effects of prolonging a divorce proceeding. This includes why, despite the difficult emotions, it can be healthier for your personal and professional life to end it promptly.

More Money Spent Over Time

Assets you earn after your divorce is filed are no longer considered marital property. With this said, without filing right away after deciding that divorce is the route you want to take, your spouse’s portion of your pension will continue growing as long as you are still married. This includes savings accounts, investments, work bonuses, or new properties that will be considered marital property.

Feelings Can Change

A once amicable split can quickly end in a hostile, messy divorce. Going through a permanent split can be an emotional time for both spouses, but despite the initial shock and sadness, many spouses can reach common ground after making the decision. It’s best to finalize a divorce when both spouses are amicable to one another, leaving less time for anger and other stages of grief to take hold. Over time, as a divorce drags out, the more likely it is for each spouse to look for ways to get even or possibly one-up the other. This tends to lead to exhausting arguments and bitter discontentment for both parties.

New Complications

It’s not unusual for people to seek out love and companionship, even while going through a divorce. Any relationship after a divorce can complicate proceedings and negatively affect how your spouse views you, your previous relationship, and what they are entitled to. Usually, for the best outcome in a divorce, the only people involved are the two getting divorced and their attorneys. It usually becomes more complicated when another family member or a new partner gets involved, leading to prolonged proceedings and unnecessary arguments over minor details.

Pour Into Your Personal and Professional Life

Even those in unhealthy marriages can have a hard time during divorce. The difficulties can vary from person to person, but issues can manifest differently in your personal and professional life. You can bring those hard emotions into your place of work, around family members or close friends, and it can be all-around challenging to manage in everyday life. Having a divorce hanging over your head can be exhausting, so it is best to finalize it as soon as you can.

Wearing Down

Most clients start their proceedings with a clear stance on what they want, with the drive to get it. Standing your ground is an important thing to do in your divorce, but as time goes on with the back-and-forth process, your strength and determination may start to waver. When divorce fatigue and exhaustion happen, you’re more likely to accept terms you may not have agreed to initially. 

Gain Closure

Getting closure is an integral part of divorce. Every family member may feel the weight of your divorce, and while it may be sad to have the divorce be final, it can also become a transitional moment for new beginnings with you and your children. You can finally start a new life with new routines and a fresh start. 

Family Law Attorney In Kern County

You should only delay your divorce if you and your spouse think there is any possibility for reconciliation and a healthy, happy future together. This can take a lot of effort with therapy, individual growth, and mutual agreement to strengthen your relationship. It is a big decision, just as much as divorce.

Azemika & Azemika is here for you during this difficult time. Our practice has been devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody and visitations, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for you and your family’s future. Contact us today.

The Dangers Of Hiring A Cheap Divorce Lawyer

Hiring A Cheap Divorce Lawyer

You may be tempted to go for the cheapest option when stressed during your divorce, but a cheap divorce lawyer can cost you much more money in the long run. When it comes to your divorce, you want to ensure it is done right, with the paperwork properly done, to avoid any headaches later. The money spent upfront may seem worth it, but in the long run, there are many hidden costs when you decide to go the cheap route.

Why You Shouldn’t Hire A Cheap Divorce Lawyer

It’s important to know the possible risks when hiring an inexpensive divorce lawyer so you can steer clear, as tempting as it may be. We’ve gathered some important reasons you shouldn’t hire a cheap divorce lawyer so you can make an informed choice when finding a lawyer for your divorce.

Less Experienced

It’s important to consider why a cheap lawyer has such low prices. A family’s lawyer rate usually depends on their experience, skill, and reputation. With this in mind, a cheap divorce lawyer may be lacking in these areas, which is why they are so inexpensive. You’ll want more than just basic legal advice that can be found online, and an experienced family law lawyer will have more experience and understanding of the legal process. This can help you achieve better financial terms during your separation. Cutting corners isn’t worth it when it comes to decisions that significantly affect your case and for life afterward.

Can Take More Time to Finalize Your Divorce

Those searching for a cheap divorce attorney typically look for positive results as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and a cheap divorce lawyer may take longer than necessary to file divorce papers and possibly submit paperwork with errors. In the long run, this means missed deadlines, a drawn-out divorce, and higher legal fees.

Less Availability

A cheap divorce lawyer will often take on more clients to compensate for the lower rates they charge, meaning less face-to-face time with you and your case. They will likely be unavailable for questions you may have and be less involved in your case than a reputable lawyer would. Even the most simple of divorces can be complicated, and not being updated regularly can leave you in a difficult situation. While going through the stress of a divorce, the last thing you want is to be left in the dark.

Prone to More Mistakes

Experienced attorneys might charge more for their services upfront, but this is because they spend more time with their clients to avoid making little mistakes that a cheap divorce lawyer could easily overlook. Simple mistakes can slip through the cracks, causing your case to be dismissed and having to start all over again. You can have peace of mind when hiring a more experienced attorney, knowing there will be little to no complications or unexpected expenses.

No Paralegals or Associate Attorneys Aid

An experienced divorce lawyer rarely works alone and usually has a team of professionals behind them, allowing them to strategically assign portions of the casework to one of their associates at a lower hourly rate. This allows the client to have the advantage of a lower rate but with the guidance of an experienced attorney. Inexpensive lawyers tend to work alone and don’t have the support of paralegals, assistants, or associate lawyers to catch their mistakes or help with important tasks during the divorce filing.

Experienced Divorce Lawyers In Kern County

Cheap doesn’t only mean a lawyer has a lower hourly rate. It also can indicate the overall value of your case. Considering divorce is such a serious and permanent procedure, you shouldn’t take it lightly so it doesn’t have a negative effect on other areas of your life. An experienced divorce attorney is well-versed in all aspects of the law and will be able to lend you the best advice and representation. They don’t cut corners and do their due diligence to make sure there are no loopholes in alimony, child support, or when dividing property.

In the long run, a cheap divorce attorney proves to be the more expensive option. You want an experienced divorce lawyer who is efficient, detailed, and understanding of the law to help you quickly and effectively file your divorce. At Azemika & Azemika, we are here for you during your divorce. Our practice has been devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody and visitations, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for you and your family’s future. Contact us today.

California Divorce And Business: What You Need To Know

California Divorce And Business

Divorces tend to be complex when it comes to dividing assets. After working hard and building up your business, it is understandable to be concerned about the fate of your business after the divorce. You’ll likely want to hold on to certain assets and maintain ownership of your business, so understanding what California divorce and business looks like can help you make important decisions for a desired outcome.

The Difference Between Separate and Community Property

California is a community property state, meaning if your business has become commingled or purchased during your marriage, it can be subject to being divided in half during your divorce. Considering the impact they have on what is divided during the divorce, it’s vital to understand the classifications of both separate and community property.

Separate Property

Any assets or belongings owned by one spouse before marriage or gifts given to one spouse is considered separate property. Separate property is safe from division, as the courts do not have any jurisdiction to give one party’s separate property to the other party.

Community Property 

Community property, or marital property, is when you:

  • Started or acquired the business during your marriage
  • Started or inherited the business before your marriage but made commingled property by contributing to the business using marital funds
  • Started the business before your marriage, but your spouse became the business manager

Dividing a Business During a California Divorce

In California, business assets that are community property are treated the same as personal assets during a divorce. Even if you started or owned the business before you were married, or more involved than your spouse was day-to-day, a judge will split ownership 50/50 if the court views the business as community property.

This changes if you started the business before you got together and never commingled the business with your spouse. If you never put your spouse’s name on any business documents or named them as co-owners, it is viewed as separate property. This may be able to protect your business from being divided with your spouse, but you still may owe your ex the increase in value of your business that happened while you were married.

Valuation of the Business

You’ll need to value your business if it has been considered marital property. Getting an accurate valuation is important to ensure a fair division of all assets. There are a few different factors that add value to your business:

  • Any fixed assets, ie. furniture or equipment
  • Debts or liabilities
  • Current and future profitability
  • Market value
  • Intangible assets, ie. financial statements or accounts receivable
  • Goodwill

Options for Handling a Family Business 

There are a few options when handling a family business when going through a divorce.

Buyout

Spouses may negotiate a fair price and determine the term of payment if they decide to buy out the other spouse’s interest in the business. They may decide to pay in one lump sum or agree on installment payments.

Co-Ownership

Some spouses may be able to co-own and operate the business after a divorce. With this agreement, clear and consistent communication and cooperation are necessary. An explicit agreement on management responsibilities, decision-making, and profit sharing should be made.

Sell the Business

If it is impractical to keep the business, or both spouses decide they do not want to continue it, selling it and dividing the proceeds can be the best option. It’ll take a skilled family law attorney in order to navigate the sale of the business and to ensure a fair distribution of the sale.

How to Protect Your Business in a Divorce in California

  • Create a Prenup or Postnuptial Agreement: If you have already created a prenup or postnuptial agreement, you can go over how the assets will be divided when going through the divorce. While a prenup may be challenged in some scenarios, you can protect your business from being divided if you choose this type of agreement.
  • Use Alternative Dispute Resolutions: You can handle the division through an alternative dispute resolution like mediation. When you settle the matter outside of court, you’ll find you have more autonomy over what happens when negotiating with the other party.
  • Find Quality Insurance: When you invest in quality insurance, you may take advantage of their programs that allow you to accumulate cash value over time. This allows you to liquidate the funds later in order to buy out your partner.
  • Create a Trust: You are no longer considered an owner when your business is placed in a trust. The business is protected from being considered a marital asset because the trust technically owns the business.
  • Avoid Commingling Assets: Make sure you avoid commingling your business. Keep funds separate, and limit your spouse’s contributions and involvement in the business. 

Talk to a Divorce Attorney in Kern County, CA

It is difficult to go through a divorce as is but is especially stressful when you have a business or other important assets you’d like to protect. At Azemika & Azemika, we are here to help you protect those assets. Our practice has been devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody and visitations, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for you and your family’s future. Contact us today.

Is Your Spouse Hiding Assets In Your Divorce? Here’s How To Know

hiding assets

For your divorce to be fair, your assets must be fully disclosed and honest. Nobody wants to believe their spouse is hiding anything on top of going through the divorce itself, but it does happen, and it’s important to understand and be on the lookout for signs that your spouse may be hiding assets during your divorce. If your spouse successfully hides assets, it can have a negative impact on what you are awarded in the divorce because the hidden assets are unknown and unable to be divided correctly. 

Signs Your Spouse May Be Hiding Assets During Your Divorce

Divorces can be long, grueling processes with complex situations in each case. Dividing assets and making major financial decisions in court can take a long time, and one spouse might hide valuable assets to avoid splitting them in the divorce. We’ve compiled signs to look for during your divorce so you can protect yourself and your future after.

Maintaining Complete Control

With a desire to completely control bank account information and passwords and acting secretive or defensive, your spouse may be hiding something. You deserve to know as much as your spouse does about your financial situation and have the right to access joint accounts during your divorce. If something feels off by their domineering attitude, listen to your gut.

Changing Information on Accounts

To keep you and the court from accessing information about assets, your spouse might change the mailing address on accounts or statements to save them from showing up at your joint home. Similarly, they may open a post office box with the same strategy to keep statements and information from getting into your hands.

Unusual Spending

If a spouse suddenly starts spending more than usual, they may try to drain assets and convert them into possessions. For instance, you may notice a savings account, a piece of real estate, or a random investment you knew nothing about. Your spouse might try to drain the account, sell the asset, or use the cash to buy items that are more difficult to track (like art, jewelry, or clothes).

Making Overpayments

By overpaying taxes, credit cards, or loan payments, they can create a way to redirect hidden marital or separate funds. This means that once the divorce is over, your spouse will owe less on their post-divorce assets.

Giving Gifts

You may notice your spouse giving lavish “gifts” to friends, family, or even a new lover. This might be an attempt to remove assets from marital or separate accounts they don’t want you to know about. The family member, friend, or new partner might hold on to the asset and return it to your spouse once the divorce is final.

Traveling Out of the Country

You should investigate if you notice your spouse making frequent trips to countries with more relaxed banking laws or dealing with banks overseas. You or your attorney can send a subpoena to any bank you suspect your spouse has an account with and receive all the records under your spouse’s name. Taking trips out of the country can also move assets to places that are harder to discover.

Paying Unknown Loans

Your spouse may completely fabricate the existence of new loans to siphon money out of joint accounts or separate accounts you know about. 

Making Changes to Their Business

If your spouse owns a business, you should look out for any attempts made by your spouse to conceal the business’ assets or income so it cannot be accurately accounted for during the divorce; they might reconfigure the whole corporate structure, suddenly start buying and selling things, or change how they operate the business. Additionally, if a once thriving business suddenly experiences a downturn during the divorce, there is reason to suspect it as intentional as a way to shield income from the divorce.

Unusual Business Expenses

Your spouse can fabricate new or unusual business expenses, not seeking reimbursement for expenses from their employer, and then hold on to receipts to seek reimbursement once the divorce is over. This is a way to keep the funds from even being considered or divided in the divorce.

Open a Brand New Business

Opening a new business can offer an opportunity to redirect assets and create losses, which changes their true net worth and allows them to get more in the divorce.

Kern County Divorce Lawyers By Your Side 

If you find yourself suspecting your spouse of hiding assets after reading some of these signs mentioned, it is in your best interest to talk to your divorce attorney as soon as possible. Azemika Law is here for you, with our practice devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody and visitations, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for your future.

Contact us today, and let us help you protect yourself and your assets. Don’t let your spouse take advantage of you. We’re here to help.

California Divorce And Adopted Children

adopted children

When children are involved in a divorce, things become more complicated. Whether the children are adopted or not, it’s an emotional and tricky issue. When a child is adopted, the parents become their legal parents, meaning certain legal rights and responsibilities are created. Adoptive parents have all the same responsibilities for their adopted children as they would biological children once the adoption process is complete. Parents must take care of their adopted child, providing for their education, housing, and medical care. 

It does not matter if you are the child’s biological parents or if you have adopted children. Your legal relationship with your adopted children will not change just because of a separation or divorce. Your divorce will be treated just like any other divorce by the court system, and you can create a child custody schedule that best suits your and your family’s needs. 

Who Gets Custody Of Adopted Children In A Divorce?

Some may think that a biological parent may be given custody over a former step-parent who adopted the child. Still, in California, the law is clear that regardless of the type of adoption, the adoptive parent is considered a legal guardian. There are no legal differences between an adoptive parent and a biological parent. There is a common primary concern that because one parent has the biological link, they may have an advantage in custody arrangements versus the adopted parent. Still, the adoptive parent has the same legal rights as the non-adoptive biological mother or father during the divorce.

It is important to note that every situation is different, and custody is determined on a case-by-case basis. Regardless, the child’s needs are always at the forefront of any decision. Decisions will be made regarding the child’s education, safety, and welfare.

Types of Custody

Both parents have the legal right to seek custody. In the same way the court would treat a biological child when determining custody, the court wants to ensure a stable, safe relationship between both parents after the divorce. Once both parents have created independent households, the time spent with each can be determined. Families can make their child custody agreements, but if this cannot be decided upon, the court can decide as a part of the divorce proceedings and in the child’s best interest.

There are a few different custody possibilities:

Physical vs. Legal Custody

Physical custody is physically having the child under your roof. Legal custody is having the right to make crucial decisions on behalf of the child, like with their medical care, general safety, schooling, or religion. The courts can award both types of custody to one or both parents or divide the types of custody between the two parents.

Joint Custody

They are also known as shared custody; this means the adopted child will spend part of their time with one parent and the rest with the other. The exact time division will depend on the case and will not always be a 50/50 split, as it needs to be practical and in the child’s best interest. Despite this, joint custody vs. shared custody arrangements highlight the nuanced differences in parental responsibilities and living arrangements post-divorce or separation.

Sole Custody

Sole custody is where 100 percent of the child custody is given to one legal parent. In this case, which is typically uncommon in California courts, the noncustodial parent might have specific visitation rights.

After a custody settlement or court-ordered agreement is determined, both parties must obey the order, though it is possible to request a modification if you have valid reasoning. In the event of significant change, parents can seek out modification of the original order.

Concerned About Your Adopted Child During A Divorce? Let Us Help

Regardless of the biological relationship, when parents have taken on the legal responsibility of their adopted child, child support can be awarded based on state laws. The amount of financial support is decided by a calculator that considers both parents’ incomes and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. This helps determine the amount for the guideline child support.

With divorce being such an emotional and important pivot in life, it can feel scary to go at it alone. It can be challenging to navigate through all the proceedings, and having someone in your corner who can guide you with your and your family’s best interest in mind is important. At Azemika Law, we are here for you with our practice devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody and visitations, abandonment, and adoptions. We serve all of Kern County and want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for your future. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.