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Dissolution of Marriage

Dissolution of Marriage is the legal term used in California for what most refer to as a Divorce.  Dissolution of Marriage ends the legal marital contract between two individuals. California is a “no fault” state, which means the Court only needs to find that “irreconcilable differences” have arisen causing the irremediable break down of the marriage. To obtain Dissolution of Marriage, at least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing the divorce Petition and of the county (where the divorce action is filed) for at least three months prior to the filing of the Petition.

Legal Separation

Is a process much like a Dissolution of Marriage proceeding. A Petition for Legal Separation is filed and the parties’ property is divided. However, the parties’ marital status remains intact. A Legal Separation does not legally end the marriage. Reasons people choose a Legal Separation over a Dissolution of Marriage include: 1) for religious reasons; 2) due to insurance or other benefits or 3) they have not met the residency requirements to obtain a Dissolution of Marriage.

Child Custody and Visitation

Child Custody refers to the rights and responsibilities for taking care of the children of the relationship/marriage. Visitation is how much time each parent will spend with the children. There are two types of Custody, legal and physical.  Legal custody refers to the decision making pertaining to the children (i.e. health care, school and welfare). Physical custody refers to which parent (or both parents in the case of joint physical custody) the children live with. Orders pertaining to child custody and visitation are determined on a temporary basis while the dissolution of marriage is pending.  Permanent custody and visitation orders are determined at the conclusion of the dissolution of marriage. After the dissolution is concluded, a permanent order may be modified if there has been a material change in circumstances since the permanent order.

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