Q: What is a legal divorce?

A: Divorce is the dissolution of marriage.

Q: What if my spouse cheated on me does that affect the distribution of assets?

A: No, California is a “no fault” state meaning that the circumstances that lead to the divorce are, for the most part, irrelevant, including infidelity.

Q: What is an uncontested divorce?

A: An uncontested divorce is when the parties do not dispute any material issues in the divorce proceedings such as distribution of assets, spousal support, child custody etc.

Q: Once divorced who pays spousal support?

A: Spousal support may be ordered to be paid by the higher earning spouse.

Q: What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?

A: A legal separation is not final as is a divorce. The court can make temporary orders as to division of assets, child support, child custody and spousal support until the parties decide to file for divorce. A legal separation protects your interests until the filing for divorce.

Q: If my spouse has been providing health insurance and other benefits do I have to obtain separate health insurance once I file for divorce?

A: Once you file for divorce the court places a temporary freeze on assets and benefits including health insurance so until the divorce is final you would remain status quo.

Q: What if my spouse does not respond to the summons and complaint.

A: If the respondent does not respond to the summons and complaint after 30 days then they are in default. In this case, the petitioner wins and for the most part obtains what they asked for.

Q: How long will my divorce take?

A: A divorce takes at minimum 6 months. Courts provide a 6 month window to ensure the parties have made all disclosures and come to terms prior to finalizing a divorce.

Q: Can the provisions in a final judgment be changed afterwards?

A: The provision in a final judgment can be changed in very little circumstances, such as for fraud, undue influence and mutual mistake. Aside from those grounds there is no way to modify a judgment. Make sure you are represented by counsel and are well advised as to the judgment.

Q: What is a marital settlement agreement?

A: A marital settlement agreement is, essentially, a contract entered into by the parties and it defines their rights with respect to the issues of the divorce such as property division, child custody, child support and spousal support. A marital settlement agreement usually becomes a final judgment.

Q: What is a temporary restraining order?

A: Unfortunately, at times, a spouse may become abusive toward a party or children and in those cases it might be wise to seek a restraining order. A temporary restraining order is usually granted with little evidence, at times on a declaration alone. A temporary restraining order lasts for only 20 days. Usually, a hearing is held to order a more permanent restraining order which would require more evidence.

Q: Should I attend mediation in order to resolve issues in my divorce?

A: Mediation is absolutely helpful. It reduces costs and allows the parties to communicate through a neutral third party. There is never a drawback to attending mediation.