There are many misconceptions when it comes to legal issues in family law. The hope of this article is to provide some clarity on some or all of those issues.
Misconception 1: Can I get an immediate divorce?
No, California has a six month waiting period before your divorce can be finalized. The waiting period begins as soon as your spouse is served with the petition and summons (which begins the divorce process). California must also have jurisdiction over your divorce. This means you must have lived in California for six months and be in the county you wish to file for at least three months. However, for a legal separation, you don’t need to meet those requirements.
Misconception 2: Family Law favors women over men?
Absolutely false. The law is neutral and is based on a case-by-case basis. It may seem favorable to women as we typically are the primary caretaker of our children (in custody cases), we earn less than our spouse (regarding support) and we are more fragile (in situation of domestic violence cases).
Misconception 3: Family Law is the same in all 50 states?
Each state has their own set of laws. For example, California is a no-fault state, while Arkansas requires specific grounds before you can get divorced, North Carolina requires a one-year period of separation. California allows divorces and separations even if the spouses are still living under the same roof.
Misconception 4: I can’t get a divorce if I am still living with my spouse?
This is false, at least in California. There are many times because of money issues that spouses are living together while they are going through the divorce process. Unless there is a domestic violence issue, where the court needs to order the abuser spouse out of the family home, you can expect the court to deny your request for the other spouse to move out, if it will be a financial burden on that spouse to vacate the premises. Of course, the eventual goal will be for one of the spouses to move out and that could be related to issues of support or selling of property to be able to accomplish that goal.
Misconception 5: Fathers never get sole or primary custody?
False. California law does not single out or favor which parent is to get custody. The law is written gender neutral and the main focus is on the best interest of the child. The goal is to make sure both parents are involved in their children’s lives. Unless one parent is abusing or neglecting the children, the goal of the court will be to have the parents sharing custody. The reason you see the mother getting custody of the children, is because in reality mom is typically the parent who stays home to raise the kids or the primary caretaker in making sure the child’s needs are being met. And as already stated, the best interest for a child would be to not disrupt this existing parenting arrangement.
These are the most common types of questions I hear and I hope they are helpful to you. If you have further questions, please let me know by contacting me by visiting my site, www.munaycolaw.com and I can even blog about it on Patch.