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Things to Know About Divorce Law Before Hiring an AttorneySo-called experts and attorneys understand the basics of divorce law in California, which is to be expected. But how many average people truly understand how to file for divorce, the legal procedures in the divorce process, and which specific divorce documents are required for both the petitioner and the other spouse?


Recognizing the legal process for divorce in the state of California, as well as understanding your rights, as a participant in the dissolution of your marriage is crucial before completing the divorce process. Divorce laws change over the years, and can vary from state to state.


Of course, it is not expected for every person to know and remember the entirety of legal terminology that only attorneys and specialists are expected to memorize. However, if you understand the following basic tenants of divorce law in California, you will be much more confidant moving forward in your divorce before you hire an attorney.

  1. Know your spouse’s income. Money and divorce go hand in hand. According to advice site Family Education, “whether it’s for spousal support or child support, you will have to know your spouse’s earnings and assets to calculate a reasonable figure.” A little nervous about asking your spouse, or maybe you aren’t sure you’ll get a legitimate answer? They go on to say that, “If it doesn’t make sense to ask your spouse, you might have to do some digging before that information becomes unavailable.”

Of course, don’t break the law to do some detective work! Do what is in your legal, constitutional authority. Tax returns and recent pay stubs should give you clues, if not outright answers. Trust us when we say that having a valid assessment of your spouse’s income will be valuable later on in the divorce proceedings.


  1. Know what you and your spouse’s community property and valuables are. What do you own that is solely yours? Remember that gifts, such as jewelry or other valuables are considered your property in the majority of circumstances in California, regardless of who paid for them. Who owns your home? What money was acquired before marriage and what was acquired after marriage? Do you have a prenuptial agreement? Review it to clarify who owned what before you tied the knot.


Remember also that in the state of California, as Legal Zoom states, “in a community properly state, the husband and wife equally own all income and assets earned or acquired during the marriage.” So, for example, if a wife made a large purchase during a marriage with her own money, it is still considered community property of both husband and wife, regardless of a prenuptial agreement. Many deem this unfair, but it is a valid legal reality in California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Washington, and Wisconsin.


  1. Assess you and your spouse’s debt. Just like community property laws, which apply in California, debt is also considered “community property.” If your husband acquired large amounts of gambling debts during your marriage that you had nothing to do with, that debt is still partly yours, unfortunately. Try to assess your family debt through bank statements, credit card statements, student loan debts, credit report assessments, or other type of “detective” work.


  1. Custody laws do not always favor the mother. It seems to be a given that judges tend to be sympathetic towards mothers, giving preference to them in regards to custody arrangements. Though this has elements of truth to it, it is not entirely accurate. The primary considerations in terms of custody are the children’s health, education, safety, and welfare. If drugs, an unstable living situation, or even poor emotional bonds between mother and child are present, a judge may not give automatic preference to the mother.


Education about divorce law is key. There are several different divorce laws, and they change over time and with varying circumstances. Perhaps you will not need to consult a lawyer, and can instead file for an online divorce using the services at My Divorce Papers. However, if your divorce were contested, then it would behoove you and your spouse to obtain more legal advice, and become educated on the basics of divorce law. Only then should you consult with an attorney and start the official filing procedures.

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