The divorce process is intimidating for many people. There is a cocktail of challenges and circumstances present that are unique to divorce. Family relationships are emotionally strained, and resentment and grievances may be involved. Finances may be stressed.
The status quo is turned on its head. To add to this, there is a complex web of legal requirements and obligations to navigate before the divorce can be finalized.
With all of these consequence-laden factors, it’s no wonder mistakes are made during a divorce. It’s crucial to navigate the process carefully to avoid common pitfalls that can have long-lasting consequences.
In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with valuable insights from a legal perspective to help you avoid mistakes and ensure a smoother divorce journey in California.
Even with this ultimate guide, consider finding help from an experienced family and divorce lawyer if you are going through a divorce. Don’t compromise on the quality of your future by not seeking appropriate legal counsel.
Identify your separate property
Most of the assets you acquire while married are considered community assets. This means these assets may be subject to distribution in a divorce.
California is a state which enforces the concept of community property. In other words, most of the time, the assets acquired by two spouses during marriage will be subject to equal distribution. However, most of the assets acquired before the marriage are not.
The assets acquired prior to marriage are called “separate assets” and can be kept by the spouse who brought them into the marriage. Consequently, it is critical that you identify these separate assets during a divorce, otherwise, they may become community assets if they are not specified.
Other exceptions to community property exist, potentially including gifts and inheritances. Gain a clear understanding of community property laws to protect your rights and assets appropriately.
Keep a record of all relevant financial transactions during the marriage and gather relevant documents such as bank statements, tax returns, property deeds, and investment records to establish a comprehensive picture of your marital estate.
Get an accurate evaluation of your important assets
The court will need to know the exact value of your key assets. This includes your retirement account, jewelry, vacation homes, other properties, boats, vehicles, and any other assets you might possess.
Courts do not want an estimate of their value. They want their precise value. This accurate evaluation is necessary for the courts to make sure community assets are distributed equally.
California family code 2552 states that spouses have 30 days from getting notice from the other party to get assets valued. The final evaluation of assets will occur prior to the start of the trial.
Proper documentation and financial disclosure
At the beginning of the divorce process, spouses have a legal obligation to make financial disclosures to each other. It is critical to properly and accurately document relevant disclosures, as transparency is key to avoiding complications and building trust with the court.
In addition to the assets discussed previously, both spouses will need to disclose debts, income, and expenses. If one party is careless or misleading regarding financial disclosures, this can lead to poor outcomes.
If you are accused of trying to conceal information, the court may lose trust in you, and your case may weaken in your spouse’s favor. Work closely with your family law divorce attorney to ensure you meet all legal requirements and fulfill your disclosure obligations.
Follow court orders!
Any court order you receive during the divorce process is supported by the power of the court.
If you fail to comply with court orders, you can be
- Required to pay fines
- Required to pay your spouse’s legal fees
- Found in contempt of the court
- Placed in Jail
The court is backed up by the weight of the legal system and will do everything within its power to ensure orders are enforced. If your spouse fails to obey court orders, your family law divorce attorney can contact the court to ensure orders are followed.
Child custody and visitation
If you have children, determining custody and visitation arrangements can be emotionally challenging. California courts attempt to prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody decisions.
It’s crucial to approach negotiations or court proceedings with the child’s well-being in mind rather than engaging in vindictive behavior. Keep open lines of communication with your spouse and be willing to negotiate a fair and sustainable custody agreement.
If necessary, consider seeking the assistance of a trained mediator or child custody evaluator to facilitate discussions and help you reach a resolution that works for everyone involved.
Key issues won’t resolve themselves
Divorce is not a passive process. Problems and issues will not resolve themselves. Moreover, your spouse likely won’t advocate for your best interests. You and your legal counsel will need to advocate on your behalf.
Additionally, carefully consider your decisions with your family and divorce lawyer. Keep in mind your and your family’s long-term interests. Don’t give up too much of what you have because of being uninformed or hoping problems will work themselves out. If you don’t take the initiative on important issues, the other party might.
Don’t antagonize your spouse
Divorce is a complex and emotionally challenging process, and it becomes even more complicated when legal matters come into play. Additionally, grievances, trauma, and breaches of trust may have preceded the divorce.
Given these factors, it is not uncommon for spouses to fall into vindictive and mean-spirited behavior. Such behavior will generate further hurt feelings, polarization within the family, and other relational consequences during the divorce.
This antagonism will likely make the divorce process take longer, cost more money, and make your spouse less likely to want to negotiate or make reasonable compromises. Do not antagonize your spouse﹘ even if you feel angry or are antagonized, maintain amicable and goal-focused communication.
If you and your spouse are on decent terms, consider divorce mediation in Los Angeles. Divorce mediation can provide a more peaceful alternative to using the courts, enabling a neutral third party to help each spouse come to an agreement without costly and lengthy proceedings.
Hire the right attorney
One of the most critical steps in achieving a successful divorce is selecting your family law divorce attorney. Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, or others who have been through divorce.
Conduct thorough research online, read client reviews, and consider attorneys specializing in family law or divorce cases. Choose someone with extensive experience in California divorce law to ensure they are well-versed in the specific regulations and processes of the state.
A skilled family and divorce lawyer will guide you through the legal complexities, protect your interests, and help you make informed decisions.
Avoid mistakes in your divorce
The divorce process is undoubtedly challenging, with a multitude of emotional and financial factors at play. Navigating the legal aspects of divorce in California adds another layer of complexity.
By following this guide and understanding the potential mistakes that can arise, you can take proactive steps to ensure a smoother divorce journey. Remember, divorce is a significant life event, but with the right approach and a competent legal advocate, you can navigate the process with greater confidence and achieve a more favorable outcome.
Seek professional legal advice to protect your rights and ensure the best possible resolution for you and your family. Legal advice is always recommended to protect your rights and build your future. If you are in the greater Los Angeles area, consider consulting with a divorce attorney in Woodland Hills, Ca.
About Family and Divorce Lawyer, Leon F. Bennett, Esq.
The Law Offices of Leon F. Bennett provide efficient and effective Family Law services throughout Southern California for over 35 years that satisfy you and your family’s goals. Leon F. Bennett, Esq. is an expert family law attorney in Woodland Hills, Ca., who will get the desired results for you and your family. Contact us today to request a consultation.