What Am I Entitled to After a Divorce?

It is normal to wonder what you may be legally entitled to as someone who is getting divorced in California. You need to know what to expect so that you can start planning for the future. This is a difficult question to answer, however, as each situation is unique. While California law enforces a 50/50 property division split, what you will actually get in a divorce settlement can vary based on the circumstances.

Who Gets Marital Property in a Divorce?

Two systems are used to determine how to divide marital property in a divorce case: equitable division and community property laws. Equitable division is more common; it is a legal principle that distributes marital assets and liabilities (such as debts) based on what is fair or equitable for either party.

California, however, is a community property state. With this rule, a married couple is viewed as its own community. Any property acquired during a marriage will become community property, which is subject to an even 50/50 division in the event of a divorce. Separate property – meaning property one spouse acquired prior to the marriage or through gift or inheritance – is not subject to division.

Who Gets Child Custody?

Neither parent is entitled to custody of shared children in a divorce in California. The courts will determine a custody arrangement based on what is in the best interests of the child. This decision will only be made after careful consideration of all relevant factors, such as the child’s relationship with either parent, each parent’s physical and mental fitness, and the child’s attachment to his or her home and community.

Parents in a divorce case may both share custody (joint custody) or one parent may receive sole custody while the other may or may not have visitation rights. Joint arrangements are most common, as the courts generally believe it is in a child’s best interests to remain in continuing contact with both parents after a divorce unless the circumstances make this a risk to the child’s well-being.

Who Gets Alimony?

Alimony, or spousal support, is also not something that either spouse is entitled to in a divorce. When making an alimony decision, the courts will consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, whether both spouses can maintain a similar standard of living after the divorce and each spouse’s contributions to the marriage. If alimony is awarded, the length of time the order will last also depends on the case.

How to Protect Your Rights in a Divorce Case

Every major aspect of divorce is initially within the divorcing couple’s ability to control. Every divorcing couple in California has the opportunity to come up with their own settlement agreement, where they both agree on the key elements and terms of the split. The courts will only intervene and impose California’s laws on such matters if the couple cannot reach a settlement.

If you wish to protect what matters most to you in a divorce, the best way to do so is by hiring an experienced San Diego divorce attorney to represent you during negotiations, mediation or arbitration. Your attorney can help you communicate and compromise with your ex-spouse to improve the chances of coming to an agreement and avoiding court.

For more information about your rights during a divorce case in California, contact Boyd Law to request a free consultation.