Understanding Divorce Law and Custody Proceedings


Create Your Own Property SettlementHaving a thorough understanding of the divorce laws and custody proceedings will help you to complete the process as quickly as possible, saving you time, emotional stress, and money.

In San Francisco, custody and divorce lawyers generally advise their clients to not make any drastic moves such as: buying or selling real estate, selling or purchasing other assets, or moving children or finances around when in the midst of a custody or divorce process.  This will lead to future complications and will raise questions from the other side’s divorce attorneys.

To become legally separated or divorced in San Francisco, you have to meet some minimum state requirements. The most common requirements include the following:

  • Residing in California for a specific length of time: Most states require that one or both of you be a resident for a minimum amount of time before you can either file a petition for divorce or before your divorce can be granted.  In order to obtain a California divorce, either the petitioner or the respondent must have lived in the State of California for six months, and in the specific county in which the petition for divorce is filed for at least three months immediately preceding the filing of the petition.  This rule does not apply to legal separation or annulments.
  • For short-term marriages: If a couple has been married for less than five years, has no children and has minimal assets and debts, California law permits the couple to file for summary dissolution.  This is a relatively fast, simple and inexpensive alternative to the regular dissolution proceeding.
  • Legal separation: While legal separation is available under California law, you should discuss with your mediator or attorney if this is the best option for you.  You can not remarry if you have a judgment of legal separation.

Understanding custody and divorce laws while resolving practical issues:

  • How will your marital property and debts be divided?California is a community property state.  Community property is all property (for example, house, cars, furniture in the house, etc.) that was acquired during the marriage.  This property is divided equally (50-50) by the court if the parties are not able to come to an agreement.
  • If there are minor children from your marriage, how are custody, visitation, and child support matters handled?These issues can be some of the most emotional matters in a divorce.  Some spouses fear that if they do not get custody, they no longer play a meaningful role in the lives of their children; others may view fighting for the kids as a way to get back at their spouses. This is when a family law and San Francisco divorce mediator or a collaborative family lawyer can help those seeking to solve these problems in the San Francisco area. Child support laws and the federal government mandate how much support is due. California has guidelines for determining the minimum amount of child support that should be paid in a divorce.

If you and your spouse can work together through mediation to resolve these issues, your divorce can be relatively quick and inexpensive. However, if you cannot resolve the issues between the two of you, or if your divorce has complicating factors, ending your marriage can take time and money. In the worst-case scenario, you must look to the courts for help.

Because there are other alternatives to the costly and sometimes contentious litigation process, a San Francisco divorce attorney with experience in mediation, collaborative law, and negotiation practices may be the best solution for your needs if you and your spouse think that a resolution can be reached in a more peaceful manner. As you work your way through the divorce process, you and your spouse have a considerable amount of leeway when you decide on most of those issues, as long as you are both in agreement.

 Contact our San Francisco Divorce Law Firm and Family Law Mediation Offices Today

The San Francisco family law mediation and divorce law firm of Vivian L. Holley is available to support your needs and future goals during this difficult time, and to explain how California’s laws affect your case.  Our progressive approaches to divorce and family law issues have been at the forefront of the family law movement for over 30 years.  Contact us and let our family and divorce law firm in San Francisco help you today.

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