Are you contemplating divorce or already going through divorce proceedings? If so, we know how tough it can be and we understand it is an emotional time in your life. It’s no easy feat to have your marriage under a microscope.
Every divorce is unique, making the divorce proceedings different from couple to couple. Emotions will be at an all-time high during this time, so mistakes are bound to happen. With a bit of guidance from your family and your lawyer, you are better prepared for what is to come.
Our attorneys at Hann Law Firm have written this helpful guide to the 6 most common mistakes we see in California divorce proceedings.
6 Mistakes You Should Avoid During Your Divorce Process in California
Being prepared and having proper legal representation is the best way to avoid any misunderstandings or mistakes during the divorce legal proceedings. No matter how the proceedings may go, it is best to be upfront with everything you have and know.
Mistake #1: Failing to Identify Your Separate Property
The state of California is a community property state. Any assets obtained during the duration of the marriage will be distributed between the couple evenly. However, assets that were acquired before the marriage are considered separate property in the divorce process.
Just because you acquired assets such as boats, cars, properties, and the like before you got married does not mean you should not disclose these assets to the court. It is required by California law that you disclose all separate assets.
Note: Even though California is a community property state, some assets that started as separate assets can transmute into community assets during the marriage. Typically, these assets are privately-held businesses and retirement accounts.
Mistake #2: Failing to Obtain an Accurate Valuation of Key Assets
The courts will want to know the exact value of your retirement account, your 401(k), vacation homes, jewelry, collectibles, vehicles, boats, and any other assets you have. You must get the accurate value of these assets. The courts do not want you to guess or estimate the value. An actual value is needed to ensure equal distribution to both parties during the divorce.
When Should Assets be Valued?
Many individuals do not quite understand when assets should get valued. According to California family code 2552, assets should get valued within 30 days of getting a notice from the other party. The final value of assets will take place before the trial starts.
Mistake #3: Not Following Court Orders
When you get a court order during your divorce process, the order is signed by the court’s power. The standard mandates that you will receive during a divorce case are to pay alimony or child support.
If you refuse to comply with the orders set for you by the judge, you can be:
- Found in contempt in Court
- Put in Jail
- Required to Pay Fines
- Required to Pay Spouse’s Legal Fees
The court will do everything in its power to enforce all court orders throughout the divorce process. If the other party is not obeying the court orders, your legal counsel can contact the judge to implement them on their level.
Mistake #4: Speaking Ill of your Partner in Front of Your Children
When a divorce takes place, children are often the real victims in the situation. This is especially true for children who have to witness a bitter divorce and custody battle.
Even if you are upset, angry, or frustrated at your partner throughout the divorce process, fight the urge to speak any ill-will of your partner in front of the children.
If you are found talking negatively to the kids about your partner, the courts can and will use that against you during a custody battle. Share your frustrations with your lawyer or family members, not your children.
Mistake #5: Running Off with the Children
When you are going through a divorce, you and your spouse will have equal custody of the children. One spouse will not have more custody of the kids if there are no court orders or a temporary restraining order in place.
Neither party will be allowed to take the children across state lines unless they have permission from the other party. Neither party will be entitled to keep the kids away from the other party as well.
Mistake #6: Failing to Have All Proper Documentation
You must have all of the required documents when starting the divorce process. The documents you need to start the divorce process in California are:
- Family Law Form FL-100 (Marriage)
- Family Law Form FL-110 (Summons)
- Family Law Form FL-115 (Proof of Summons)
If you have children, you will also need the following document:
- Family Law Form FL-105/GC-120 (Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act)
While these forms can be daunting to fill out, these documents are where you can work with a family law attorney to ensure that you’ve covered all your bases. If you fail to fill these out in their entirety, you may be setting yourself up for your spouse, accusing you of hiding assets and other financial information.
Are You Ready to Speak to a Divorce Lawyer?
Whether you’re still considering divorce or are already starting the process, you need a knowledgeable, experienced, and compassionate attorney in your corner. Our team at Hann Law Firm is here to help fight for you in many different areas of California law, such as divorce (including same-sex divorce), family law, personal injury, criminal defense, business law, and general litigation. Contact us and learn how we can put our expertise to work for you.