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California Divorce

5 Things You Need to Know About California Divorce

Ending a marriage can be extremely stressful, especially when unsure of what to expect during your divorce. One way to help minimize stress is by learning about California divorce before your case begins. Here are 5 things you need to know about California Divorce:

1) Divorce is an Emotional Process with Legal Consequences

Divorce can be one of the most emotionally difficult experiences a person may have during their lifetime. For many spouses, engaging in the process will involve making an abrupt and painful transition from being partners to becoming legal adversaries.

Divorce impacts virtually every area of a person’s life, and emotions can run high. At the same time, the choices you make during your California divorce can have significant long-term legal implications. It’s important to recognize that the pain and stress of the situation can influence your decision-making. Under these circumstances, having the advice and advocacy of an experienced California divorce attorney is crucial. Your divorce lawyer can help you evaluate your case from a neutral perspective and provide the guidance you need to make informed decisions.

2) California is a No-Fault Divorce State

When a marriage ends, it’s not uncommon for one or both partners to believe that the other is to blame. You may be getting divorced because your ex had an affair, was violent, or was emotionally unavailable. Although these are valid reasons to leave a marriage, they are not legal grounds for a California divorce. The reason is that California is a no-fault divorce state.

That means that a California couple can get divorced without having to prove that one or both of them are responsible. The law also does not provide a basis to allege that anyone was to blame.

Essentially, all that is required is for one party to plead that the couple has irreconcilable differences. However, that does not mean a spouse’s adultery or domestic violence is irrelevant during divorce. To learn more about how your ex’s conduct may impact your divorce, you should consult with an experienced California divorce attorney.

3) No One “Wins” a Divorce Case

Sometimes, spouses can get caught up in trying to “win” their divorce case. This can look different for different people. In some cases, exes may fight one another on seemingly every decision during their divorce just for the sake of getting their way. In others, one or both may have unreasonable expectations of getting all or most of the couple’s shared assets.

These types of disputes are often fueled by resentment and pain and have more to do with punishing the other person than getting through the divorce. Divorce cannot make things even or bring a sense of justice to your situation. Instead, your California divorce will involve finding a way to divide your assets equitably, deciding custody based on what is in the children’s best interest, and, if applicable, determining appropriate support. No one “wins” a divorce case, but with the right counsel and approach, navigating the process and obtaining equitable results is possible.

4) California is a Community Property State

Another important thing to know about California divorce is that California is a community property state. This means that, outside of certain limited exceptions, what spouses earn and acquire during their marriage belongs to each person equally. For example, if you bought a house in your name only

during your marriage and used community funds to make the purchase, your spouse will probably have equal ownership rights to the dwelling. Likewise, each of you will have a community interest in the other’s retirement accounts for contributions made during the marriage.

However, there can be circumstances when spouses can agree not to divide community assets. In addition, resources acquired before marriage, inherited, and gifted property are not generally community property. You and your California divorce attorney can evaluate your assets and determine how community property law will apply to you and your circumstances.

5) California Family Courts Favor Shared Custody

Child custody can be one of the most contentious issues during a California divorce. The divorce court is charged with making decisions that are in the best interest of minor children during this type of case. Outside of evidence that a parent is unsafe or not involved in a child’s life, the court will generally favor joint (shared) custody.

There are two types of child custody in California—legal and physical. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing. Physical custody is about a parent having the right to have their child with them. When parents are safe and appropriate, California courts presume that joint legal and physical custody is in the child’s best interest.

California divorce can be complex, and it’s vital that you get the information you need regarding every stage of the process. If you are involved in or considering divorce, you should consult with an experienced California divorce attorney. Your California divorce lawyer can explain how your case will work, help you analyze the evidence, and navigate your case.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce attorneys who can help you before, during, and after your divorce. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.
How do I Transfer My Out-of-State Child Custody Order to California?

How do I Transfer My Out-of-State Child Custody Order to California?

Thousands of people move into California each year. Some of these new residents are parents with children who are subject to out-of-state custody orders. When another state’s court establishes a child’s custodial decisions and the child and their parent move into the state, the original order will need to be transferred to California. Therefore, if you have an out-of-state order, you need to know: How do I transfer my out-of-state custody order to California? Continue reading

How Does Supervised Visitation Work in a California Child Custody Case?

How Does Supervised Visitation Work in a California Child Custody Case?

Generally, California law favors parents having equal decision-making authority and time with children. However, there can be circumstances when a parent will have supervised visitation. If you believe that supervised visitation may be an issue in your California child custody case, it’s important that you understand how this type of supervision operates. So, how does supervised visitation work in a California child custody case? Continue reading

Defamation and California Divorce

Defamation and California Divorce

Divorce can be incredibly stressful, especially when there is high conflict. Under these conditions, it’s not uncommon for one or both parties to strongly express how they feel about the case and each other. However, sometimes angry comments can get out of hand to the point of becoming misleading and inaccurate. Depending on what gets said, these statements may be so false and damaging as to constitute defamation. Here is more on defamation and California divorce. Continue reading

5 Reasons to Get a California Prenup

5 Reasons to Get a California Prenup

When you hear the term “prenup” or prenuptial agreement, it may conjure images of extremely wealthy or famous people. However, these legal instruments can also be helpful to people of ordinary means. Therefore, depending on your finances and relationship, having a prenuptial agreement in place before you walk down the aisle may be a good move for you and your future spouse. Here are 5 reasons to get a California Prenup: Continue reading

What is Community Property?

What is Community Property?

When a couple goes through a divorce, one of the main issues they will face is how to divide their shared property and funds. During this process, you may hear that your marital assets are considered “community property.” Those unfamiliar with this term may be wondering, what is community property? Here is what you need to know about California divorce and community property: Continue reading

Can You Legally Snoop on Your Spouse

Can You Legally Snoop on Your Spouse?

Simon felt his wife, Terry, was behaving suspiciously. He felt the strong urge to find out what she was up to, but he wasn’t sure what to do. Simon wondered if you can legally snoop on your spouse. Hopefully, he will check with an attorney before doing anything.

Wiretapping, Eavesdropping, and Surveillance – Oh, My!

Some of the ways you might use to snoop on your spouse include:

  • Installing hidden cameras,
  • Putting a tracking device on their car,
  • Adding keylogging software to electronic devices,
  • Accessing private email and bank accounts, and
  • Hacking into password-protected devices.

All of these are a terrible idea and could violate a number of laws.

For example, in California, you can put up security cameras around and even in your home. However, audio recordings are prohibited unless all parties give their consent.

More importantly, recording devices cannot be installed where your spouse or other parties have the right to expect privacy.

Right to Privacy in a Marriage

You and your spouse share a home, a bed, and probably at least one bank account. However, you each have the right to keep certain information private. Your spouse is bound by the same surveillance or snooping laws that keep your neighbor from wiretapping your phone.

Grounds Not Required – So Why Snoop on Your Spouse?

You might be tempted to legally snoop on your spouse.

But why?

What you find might firm up your decision to file for divorce – while causing a lot more heartbreak. However, not only will the information probably be inadmissible in court, but you don’t even need it. California is a no-fault divorce state, which means you do not need grounds for divorce.

Breaking the Law Hurts You

Depending on what you find, your spouse might not be held accountable for his or her actions. However, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law. When you snoop on your spouse, you could be breaking laws regarding illegal surveillance and the right to privacy.

Anyone else you happen to surveil could be angry enough to press charges if you broke the law. It’s simply better all-around to talk to an experienced California divorce attorney before doing anything. There might be ways to legally investigate your spouse’s activities.

Talk to Us Before Trying to Legally Snoop on Your Spouse

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are well-versed in divorce and the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients with divorce matters in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Diego, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.
Legal Separation When You’re Not Sure About the Split

Legal Separation: When You’re Not Sure About the Split

Brad and Sheila’s marriage had been rocky almost from the start. Still, they always seemed to be able to patch things up. This time, though, Brad did more than just move out for a few weeks before returning home. He filed for a legal separation from Sheila. Both Brad and Sheila felt that a legal separation might be best since they still were not sure about their split. Before reaching a final decision, they should understand a little more about how legal separation works in California.

California Laws

Every state has its own family laws. While some states do not recognize legal separation, California law does allow legal separation of both marriages and registered domestic partnerships. However, the parties will go through a formal court proceeding. To start the process, one spouse files a petition with an appropriate court asking for a legal separation. The other spouse has 30 days to answer the petition for legal separation. After considering issues like child support, custody, property, and spousal support, the court decides whether to allow a legal separation. You may be wondering why a couple would go to the trouble of obtaining a legal separation rather than just getting a divorce.

Marital Status

During a legal separation, the parties are still married and so cannot marry anyone else. For some people, this is an advantage.


After a judge approves the legal separation, the “earnings and accumulations of each party are the separate property of the party acquiring the earnings or accumulations.” Separation of earnings may be a compelling reason for some couples to legally separate.


Some may prefer legal separation to divorce because some religions do not condone divorce. The couple can live apart without breaking religious laws.


To obtain a divorce, either party has to meet California residency requirements:
  • At least one spouse must have lived in California for the past six months, AND
  • That spouse must have lived in the county where the divorce will be filed for the past three months.
People who want a legal separation are not bound by such residency requirement. In fact, some parties file a legal separation, then convert it to a divorce as soon as they have met the residency rules.

Legal Separation May Be a Solution

Our couple, Brad and Sheila, preferred the legal separation because it gave them time to adjust to the reality of divorce before actually divorcing. At some point, they may choose to convert their legal separation to a divorce or end the separation by reconciling. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of legal separations and divorce proceedings. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.