There are several other choices one should consider before the filing for divorce in California, these are:
A summary dissolution is actually a type of divorce proceeding. It is a simplified divorce process that few people qualify for. The requirements are:
- Both parties must sign the papers
- Each spouse has only limited assets
- Each spouse has only limited debts
- Neither spouse has any real property
- There are no children of the marriage
- The date of marriage is within five years of the filing of the action
- Neither spouse is asking for spousal support
In theory, a summary dissolution can be completed without the assistance of an attorney. Many clients want an attorney to handle their case anyway, for convenience and peace of mind.
An annulment voids the marriage, and, in the eyes of the law, the marriage never happened. There is no six-month waiting period like in divorce actions, but a court trial is mandatory even if the other spouse agrees to the annulment. A short marriage is not automatically annulled, and changing one’s mind after marriage is not a basis for an annulment. This action has very specific requirements. Marriages are usually annulled for fraud or bigamy. Some examples are:
· Bigamy- one of the parties was already married
· Fraud- the parties never intended to live together
· Fraud- one of the parties never intended to have children
· Fraud- the marriage was only for immigration purposes
An annulment is not sealed and is public record. Anyone can access information about the annulled marriage. Because an annulment always requires a court trial, it is as expensive—or even more expensive—than divorce. Many people who qualify for an annulment choose not to obtain one for these reasons.
Legal SeparationA legal separation is litigated just like a divorce. All the assets and debts are divided. Spousal support orders are made. If there are children, custody and child support are ordered.
A legal separation is appropriate only in limited circumstances. The most common circumstances include:
· Religious Reasons: the spouses' religious beliefs prohibit a divorce
· Medical Insurance: one spouse needs the other spouse's medical insurance due to health reasons
· Pension Benefits: one spouse will receive additional Social Security or Retirement benefits if they remain married
· Residency Requirements: the spouses have not lived in the state or the county long enough to file for divorce
Most clients who inquire about legal separation are unsure of divorce. A legal separation is not a solution to a bad marriage. It should only be filed if the spouse has already decided the marriage is over and a divorce, for whatever reason, is not the best choice.
Oftentimes, spouses physically separate long before paperwork is filed with the court. This usually means one spouse has moved out of the house, but not always. To be considered “physically separated,” one spouse must make the decision that the marriage is permanently broken and take action toward ending the marriage (like moving out or consulting with an attorney). If a spouse is uncertain as to whether the marriage should be saved, an alternative is to obtain a separate residence. This gives the parties time to work on the marriage before ending the relationship once and for all.