Family Law Documents
Family Law – DIVORCE SERVICES
The divorce process starts with your initial divorce Petition to include a Summons and if there are children, a document called Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act, which tells the court where the child(ren) have resided for the last 5 years and who they resided with. This helps assist the court in determining whether or not the court has jurisdiction to make custody and visitation orders as they relate to your children. Most courts have their own ‘local’ court forms they require to be submitted along with the above-mentioned documents, so it is important to have knowledge of each counties local forms and in addition, each counties local rules. Our office covers all county courts and is very familiar with each courts process and procedures.
California is a no-“Fault” state, so in other words, you do not have to prove that your spouse or partner is guilty or innocent, it is simply considered irreconcilable differences. In addition, it is not necessary that both persons agree to end the relationship and in some cases, one party can proceed without the other party’s cooperation. In California, your divorce becomes final after six months from the date the other party was personally served with your initial filed divorce papers. However, there are some instances in which litigation is involved and your case may go to trial, in which this six months from the date the other party was personally served would not apply and would be disrupted due to litigation.
Family Law – LEGAL SEPARATION
A legal separation is a legal action filed by a married person or domestic partner who wants to stay married or in the domestic partnership, but also wants to resolve all other issues, such as child custody/visitation, child support, spousal support and property division. Often times a person will choose to file for legal separation instead of divorce due to religious reasons, to maintain medical insurance benefits for a spouse or partner, or that they simply want to separate to work out issues, and possibly get back together, but do not want to be financially responsible for the other party’s debt during this time of legal separation. Legal separation is similar to the divorce process, however, at the end of the 6 months from the date the other party was personally served with your initial filed documents, you would still be considered married.
Family Law – ANNULMENT (NULLITY)
An annulment or nullity of marriage or domestic partnership is a legal action to determine that a marriage or domestic partnership is not legally valid. An annulment restores the parties to the status of single persons, as though they were never married. However, certain conditions must be met before an annulment is granted. The California Court’s website explains that a marriage is never legally valid when it is:
Incestuous: When the people who are married or in a registered domestic partnership are close blood relatives; or
Bigamous: Where a spouse or domestic partner is already married to or in a registered domestic partnership with someone else.
In addition, other marriages and partnerships can be declared invalid because of the following:
Age at the time of marriage or domestic partnership: The party filing for the annulment was under 18 years old at the time of the marriage or domestic partnership.
Prior existing marriage or domestic partnership: Either party was already legally married or in a registered domestic partnership. This is different from bigamy, which is automatically illegal, because, in this case, the marriage or domestic partnership took place after the former spouse or domestic partner was absent for 5 years and not known to be living or generally thought to be dead.
Unsound mind: Either party was of “unsound mind” or unable to understand the nature of the marriage of domestic partnership, including the obligations that come with it.
Fraud: Either party got married or registered the domestic partnership as a result of fraud. The fraud must have been about something vital to the relationship that directly affected why the party who was deceived agreed to the marriage or domestic partnership. Some examples would be, marrying only to get a green card or hiding the inability to have children.
Force: Either party consented to getting married or filing a domestic partnership as a result of force.
Physical incapacity: The parties got married or registered a domestic partnership while one of them was “physically incapacitated” or physically incapable of consummating the relationship and the incapacity continues and appears to be incurable.
These are just some examples of reasons one may seek an annulment. It is a myth that if you were only married for a short period of time you can get your marriage annulled. You need to show the judge the legally valid reasons why he or she should grant your annulment.
Family Law – FEE WAIVER
All courts require an initial filing fee and each court has their own filing fee costs. Our office can assist you in preparing a fee waiver so that you may not be required to pay the court filing fee. This fee waiver is filed with your initial documents and the judge will decide within 5-7 days whether he or she will grant your request and/or allow minimum payments from as low as $50.00 per month.