The end of a marriage often presents many emotional and legal challenges that can be difficult to navigate alone. At Olmos & Barhoum, we strive to provide the best legal support throughout each step of the process.
The three main ways to end a marriage in California are through divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Either spouse can decide to end the marriage, and the other spouse cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case. If a spouse does not participate in the divorce proceeding (for example, by not responding to the divorce petition), the other spouse will be able to get a “default” judgment and the divorce will still be finalized.
The divorce process can be complicated when spouses need to divide an extensive amount of assets after their separation, such as a home and/or other properties and financial accounts. Furthermore, if minor children are involved, each spouse will want to secure parental rights in the form of physical and legal custody.
In California, either parent can have custody of the children, or the parents can share custody. There are only two types of child custody:
- Legal custody, which refers to who makes the important decisions for the children (like health care, education, and welfare), and
- Physical custody, which refers to who the children live with.
Each type of custody can be “sole” (meaning only one parent has it) or “joint” (meaning both parents share it).
Joint legal custody allows both parents to share the right and responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children. These decisions include, for example, choosing the following for your children: school or childcare; religious activities or institutions; psychiatric, psychological, or other counseling or therapy needs; doctor, dentist, orthodontist, or other health professional; sports, summer camp, vacation, or extracurricular activities; and travel.
Physical custody can also be joint, meaning that the children live with both parents at an equal or approximately equal amount of the time. If a parent has sole or “primary” physical custody, the children live with this parent most of the time and usually visit the other parent. The visiting parent will be subject to what is called a “visitation order,” and there are various types of visitation orders that the Family Court can issue depending on the circumstances of the children and the parents. The visiting parent may also be subject to providing child support to the other parent.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
Domestic Violence can be physical violence, a verbal threat of physical violence, or a pattern of harassing behavior. For example, domestic violence can be in the form of throwing things, pulling hair, following, harassing, sexually assaulting, breaking into the victim’s home or work, destroying or stealing the victim’s property, intimidating, or threatening to do any of these things. The abuse can be verbal, written, emotional or physical.
The victim and the abuser must have a close relationship (married, divorced, separated, dating or used to date, live together or used to live together as a couple), or be related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-laws).
If you are experiencing domestic violence, you can seek immediate protection by filing a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) in Family Court. A TRO can include a “move-out” order to remove the restrained person from your home, a “stay-away” order to prohibit the restrained person from coming near you, and child custody and visitation orders. A hearing will be scheduled after a few weeks of filing the TRO, at which time the judge will issue long-term orders.
For more information about divorce, child custody issues, or restraining orders, please schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.