Dissolution (Divorce)

Divorce. A divorce (also called dissolution of marriage") ends your marriage. You can get a divorce if you say you have "irreconcilable differences" with your spouse. You don't have to give the court any other reason. It doesn't matter who is at fault.

To get a divorce in California, you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last 6 months AND for 3 months in the county where you're going to file for your divorce. To learn more about California's "residency requirements."

When you get a divorce, you can ask the judge to make orders about:
• Custody and visitation. This means that your children will live with and how you and your spouse will share parenting responsibilities.
• Visitation Overview
• Custody and Visitation Overview
• Parents who separate must decide which parent their children will live with. They also must decide how they'll share their parenting responsibilities. Sometimes parents can't agree, so the judge has to make the decisions. Many parents can agree and can make a custody/visitation agreement that they give to the court. This agreement is also sometimes called a "stipulation for custody/visitation," a "parenting plan," or a "time-share plan."The judge makes the final decision, but usually will approve an arrangement that both parents agree to.
• If you can't agree on custody, a judge will have to make the decision. You'll probably have to meet with a Family Court Services mediator before the judge will make a custody order.
When you separate or divorce, you need to decide who will have custody of your children and how they will be taken care of. If you can't agree, you must meet with a professional mediator before you can go to court.

"Custody" means:
• Who your children live with, and
• Who will make important decisions for your children (health care, education, other important decisions). This is often called a "parenting plan."

• Child and spousal support. This means the amount of money that the judge orders one spouse to pay the other spouse.
• The division of your property.
• And who will be responsible for paying debts.

Child Support. Child support is the amount of money that the court orders one parent to pay the other parent every month for the support of the child(ren). California has a formula (called a "guideline") for figuring out how much child support should be paid in all cases. Child Support is calculated as follows:

How is child support calculated?
California has a statewide formula (called a "guideline") for figuring out how much child support should be paid.
If parents can't agree on child support, the judge will decide the child support amount based on the guideline calculation.

The guideline calculation depends on:
• How much money the parents earn or can earn,
• How much other income each parent receives,
• How many children these parents have together,
• How much time each parent spends with their children,
• The actual tax filing status of each parent,
• Support of children from other relationships,
• Health insurance expenses,
• Mandatory union dues,
• Mandatory retirement contributions,
• The cost of sharing daycare and uninsured health-care costs, and
• Other factors.

Child support can also include the cost of special needs like:
• Traveling for visitation from 1 parent to another,
• Educational expenses, and
• Other special needs.

You can ask the judge to make a child support order when you:
• Get a divorce, legal separation, or annulment,
• Establish parentage, or
• Get a domestic violence restraining order.

Parents who
• have signed a voluntary declaration of paternity, OR
• are married, or registered domestic partners, and don't want to get legally separated or divorced can also ask for a child support order when they file a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children.

Either parent can later ask the judge to change the support amount if the situation changes.

Every county has a family law facilitator who will help you for free to:

• Prepare forms,
• Explain court procedures for getting and changing child support orders,
• Calculate child support using the guideline, if you have the necessary financial information, and
• Explain how the court makes child support decisions.

The facilitator can also help you collect child support or change a child support order. For more information, you may contact a Superior Court Facilitator. Every county also has a local child support agency to help you get, change, and collect child support at no charge. To learn more about the local child support agency and find the local child support agency in your county, you may contact the Superior Court within Your County of Residence.


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