Everyone knows that divorce is never an easy decision to make. It is a life-changing event that can be emotionally and mentally draining for both parties involved. From making decisions about child custody to property division, divorce can be a complex and daunting process that many people feel unprepared for.
That’s where Hayes Family Law comes in. Our boutique Napa divorce firm helps clients find amicable solutions to family law matters. Because we focus exclusively on family law, we understand the details and nuances of divorce law and can help you make the smartest decisions for your situation. We are sensitive to the emotional complexity of divorce, and to that end, we treat our clients with the kindness and respect they deserve. Though we work toward peaceful ends to protect existing family bonds, we are comfortable in the litigation arena. We have the skill and experience to take your case to trial if necessary.
Whether you are considering filing for divorce or are already in the process, we are experienced enough to pick up where you left off and help you through to the end. We like to get to know our clients personally through an initial consultation, where we can dig deep into the specifics of your case and help you develop a strategy moving forward. If you are ready to take the next step in your divorce, contact Hayes Family Law today.
The temptation to represent yourself in a divorce may have crossed your mind like it has for so many others. The reality is that divorces are complex legal proceedings that can have lasting consequences if not handled correctly. That’s why it’s professionally recommended to have an experienced lawyer on your side who is well-versed in divorce law and can help you make the smartest decisions for your situation.
Your Napa, CA divorce attorney will help:
- Craft a custom plan for your divorce once learning more about your individual circumstances
- Gather evidence and documentation to support your case
- Represent you in court if necessary and negotiate on your behalf
- File the necessary paperwork without missing a deadline
- Handle all communications with your spouse’s divorce attorney
- Ensure you are treated fairly and receive what you are rightfully owed in the settlement
The ultimate goal is to help you get through the divorce process as quickly and smoothly as possible so that you can move on with your life with peace of mind. The greatest way to achieve this is to have an experienced lawyer on your side who knows how to navigate the legal system and can fight for your interests.
The divorce process in California can be broken down into a few different steps:
- Filing for divorce. This is the first step in the process and involves filing a divorce petition with the court. This starts the legal process and puts your divorce in motion.
- Serving divorce papers. Once the divorce petition is filed, the next step is to serve your spouse with divorce papers. This officially notifies them of the pending divorce and starts the clock ticking on the mandatory waiting period.
- Waiting period. In California, there is a mandatory waiting period of six months from the time the divorce papers are served before the divorce can be finalized. This waiting period gives couples time to try to reconcile or work out a settlement.
- Finalizing the divorce. Once the waiting period is over, the divorce can be finalized by going to court and attending a hearing. The court will issue the divorce decree at this time.
- Post-divorce. Once the divorce is final, there are still a few things to take care of, such as dividing up assets and debts, establishing child custody and support, and changing your name if desired.
This is a simplified overview of the divorce process, but it gives you a general idea of what to expect. Your Napa divorce attorney will explain each step after assessing your specific case.
In California divorce cases, assets and liabilities will be divided between both parties in a process called property division. Both tangible and intangible property will be subject to division, including:
- Real estate
- Retirement accounts
Depending on the number and value of properties, property division can be a complex process. Generally, all property or assets acquired during a marriage are considered community or shared property and are subject to division. However, any property acquired before the marriage or through an exempt process, such as inheritance, will not be divided.
Though each unique case will vary, property division will generally follow these steps:
- Information gathering. During the initial stage, all information regarding property, assets, and liabilities will be discovered and analyzed so it can be properly divided.
- Settlement propositioning. After asset information has been gathered, both parties will propose a divorce settlement agreement. In this document, each party will outline how they would prefer all property to be divided between them.
- Once an initial settlement agreement has been proposed, both sides will enter into negotiations until a final settlement can be reached. Couples can negotiate directly or through alternative dispute resolutions, such as mediation.
- After coming to an agreement regarding a settlement, both parties will need to finalize the divorce by appearing in court for the judge to approve the settlement. If, for some reason, a settlement is not able to be reached, then further litigation will be necessary, and the court will ultimately define the settlement terms.
Once the property division has been finalized, both parties will need to implement the agreement by transferring all appropriate property, assets, or debts. Property division can take up the bulk of proceedings, especially if there are no children. This part of the divorce process can be mitigated if the couple has a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement, or prenup for short, is a legal contract that couples can enter into before getting married. It outlines how assets and debts should be divided in the event of a divorce. It can also include provisions for child custody and support, alimony, and other important matters.
Prenups are becoming increasingly popular as more and more couples want to protect their assets in the event of a divorce. They can be especially beneficial for couples who have been married before or have significant assets that they want to keep separate.
A postnuptial agreement works in much the same fashion but is entered into after the marriage has begun. There is no time limit regarding when a couple can draft a postnuptial agreement, and couples who have been married for several years may find it useful or necessary to divide assets and liability in the event of a divorce.
If you consider getting a prenup or postnuptial agreement in Napa, CA, it’s vital to have an experienced lawyer draft it. This ensures it is legally binding and holds up in court if necessary.
In addition to property division, whether you have a prenup or not, Napa divorces will also be subject to spousal support consideration. In many circumstances, the court may order one spouse to pay the other spousal support as a term of the divorce. The intention is to ensure that no party is unfairly affected financially as a result of the separation. There are a few types of spousal support that may be required:
- Temporary spousal support is the most common and is paid by one spouse for a term set by the court. This monthly payment will help maintain the standard of living for the lower-earning spouse. Generally, California courts will set a temporary support term equal to half the duration of the marriage.
- For couples that have been married for a long duration, or in cases in which the financial disparity is significant, the court may order one spouse to pay support to the other indefinitely. If the other spouse remarries, however, it will end the term and cease all requirements for support.
- In some cases, rehabilitative spousal support is required in order to help the lower-earning spouse reach financial stability and self-sufficiency. Typical for cases in which one spouse was a stay-at-home parent or otherwise had a gap in employment or education, this support will cover them for a set time while they pursue job training.
Spousal support terms will consider each party’s income and earning capacity, along with the duration of the marriage and standard of living maintained throughout. Spousal support orders can be modified if significant changes in either party’s financial situation occur or through remarriage.
Q: Is California a 50/50 Divorce State?
A: Yes. California is a community property state, meaning all debts, property, and assets acquired during the marriage are subject to a 50/50 split in a divorce. While the courts will do their best to split the property evenly, it will not always result in an even 50% division. Additionally, not all property will be subject to division, such as inheritance and separate property acquired before the marriage.
Q: How Much Does the Average Divorce Cost in California?
A: The cost of divorce in California will depend on many varying factors. While the fee to file itself is $435, the rest of the process can cost thousands of dollars. The average divorce cost in California is around $17,500. This is slightly higher than the national average. An uncontested divorce, in which each party agrees on all terms, is the least expensive overall, as it reduces the time spent in negotiations, court hearings, and settlement proceedings.
Q: Do I Have to Pay for My Wife’s Lawyer in a Divorce in California?
A: If you have considerably more financial assets than your wife and can therefore afford to more easily pay legal fees, the court could order you to pay for her lawyer in a California divorce case. By default, both parties are responsible for procuring their own representation. However, in some cases, especially if the divorce is the result of wrongdoing on the part of one party, the court may require you to pay for the legal fees for both sides.
Q: Who Gets the House in a Divorce in California?
A: As California follows community property rules, any house acquired or purchased during a marriage is the equal property of both spouses. This also applies to homes purchased before the marriage in which both spouses added equity. The court will either sell the property and equally disperse the proceeds or award one spouse the house if other assets of equal value are given to the other. One spouse may opt to “buy out” the other spouse for their half.
At Hayes Family Law, our boutique law firm is exclusively dedicated to family law. Because of this, our experience and skills are focus on one area. You can trust this experience has led us to offer creative solutions and alternative routes for complex situations. We are committed to excellence and client satisfaction. If you need legal assistance with a divorce or other family law matter, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.