Sacramento Divorce Lawyer

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Sacramento Divorce Attorney

Not all marriages last forever; sometimes, it becomes clear to one or both parties that divorce is necessary. Whether an amicable case or contested, divorce can sometimes take a long time to finalize. If things change after the divorce, you may need to ask the court to modify your arrangement.

Divorce can be complicated in California, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why you should hire an experienced Sacramento divorce lawyer like Dianne M. Fetzer. Your attorney can walk you through the entire process and help protect your rights in family court.

Can The Law Offices of Dianne M. Fetzer Help with My Divorce?

When dealing with family law and the high emotional stakes these cases bring, you need an attorney with experience who can keep you grounded. The Law Offices of Dianne M. Fetzer has over 70 years of combined family law experience.

Our lead attorney, Dianne M. Fetzer, opened her firm in the early 2000s after receiving a family law specialist certification. She can help with your family law needs and bring experience and empathy to the case.

California Divorce: The Basics

Either spouse can begin divorce proceedings in California. Starting a divorce is a process of filing the moving papers, and then serving notice to the other spouse. The other spouse then has the opportunity to file a Response.

Both sides can negotiate with each other to try to resolve the divorce terms. If the two sides cannot agree and a Response was filed, the case will move to court, where a judge will review all the evidence and make legally binding decisions.

Unlike some other states, California is exclusively a no-fault divorce state. In simple terms, you do not have to have a reason to file for divorce. Most divorces in California fall under the umbrella of irreconcilable differences. Judges will also not look at behavior like adultery when making decisions about how to divide assets or any financial restitution.

Let’s look at some of the biggest issues a couple will have to decide on when finalizing a divorce in Sacramento, CA.

Child Custody

Custody of children will be at the forefront of divorce negotiations for most couples with children. The couple will need to decide on an acceptable plan for how to share the legal and physical custody of the children.

Physical custody involves where the child will live. Some families opt for a true 50/50 share of custody, while others will allow one parent to take the lion’s share of custodial duty. Some parents only want visitation rights or weekend parenting of the child. Judges will use these arrangements to make decisions about child support.

Legal custody involves making important life decisions for a child. These decisions may amount to determining where a child goes to school, what their religion is, what medical care they will receive, and what diet to follow. Most couples will opt for joint legal custody, meaning they both have a say in these choices. A parent with sole legal custody will generally have unilateral authority to make decisions in a child’s life.

Asset Distribution

California believes any property a couple obtains after the marriage is community property. Even if one spouse paid for a big-ticket item by themselves, the state believes the other party has a legal right to 50 percent of the property. You can negotiate with your spouse on how to distribute any community property or let a judge decide.

A few items do not fall under the community property umbrella. For example, any items one spouse inherited or received as a gift aren’t part of community property, as well as property acquired prior to marriage and after date of separation.

Child Support

The court wants to ensure both parties are financially responsible for the child. To ensure this responsibility, judges will often order one spouse to pay the other until the child reaches legal majority. The state looks at many different aspects of both parents’ lives before deciding on how much child support will be ordered. Some of the factors a judge will look at include:

  • The income level of both parents
  • Physical custody arrangements
  • The living situations of both parents
  • Any arrangements the child needs, such as healthcare needs

Judges look to balance inequality when they make a ruling on child support. A spouse who makes more money will likely be paying child support to the other party, and a spouse with primary physical custody is likely to receive more child support than one with a 50/50 parenting plan.

California law does not give preference to one gender. Both parties in a divorce have an equal right to receive child support, and most of the orders will depend upon the financial realities of the couple.

Spousal Support

California courts attempt to help both spouses maintain a similar quality of life after the divorce through spousal support. The courts do this for equality purposes and to make sure one spouse isn’t living in luxury while the other struggles to make ends meet. This is also to attempt to allow a spouse to become self-supporting.

For a marriage of less than ten years, the court typically orders one spouse to pay the other for approximately half the length of the marriage. Any marriage eclipsing the ten-year mark is most often not part of this guidance. Instead, judges have the authority to order spousal payments for an indefinite amount of time if they choose.

Are There Other Options to End My Marriage Besides Divorce in California?

California allows annulments in some instances. An annulment is not technically a divorce, as it declares the marriage void from the beginning. Some of the reasons include one spouse being married to another person already, an illegal underage marriage, or coercion. You should speak with a Sacramento Divorce Lawyer to see if an annulment is appropriate for you.

California couples may also seek a legal separation instead of a divorce. In a legal separation, the couple will remain married but agree to live separately from then on. You will still have to discuss any child custody or support payments with a judge or through negotiation, as well as the division of assets and debts.


Can I Get a Divorce from a Common-Law Marriage?

Common-law marriages are ones where two people in a relationship live in the same house for a long time without purchasing a marriage license. Some states recognize these unions, while others do not. California does not recognize common-law marriages, so you cannot obtain a divorce as the state doesn’t recognize it as a marriage.

There are rare exceptions to this practice. If a couple had a legally recognized common-law marriage in another state and moved to California, you can file for a divorce from the marriage. There are also “Marvin” actions which should be discussed with an attorney.

Are the Terms of My Divorce Negotiable Down the Road?

Our lives are not set in stone after we get divorced. People will move, obtain new jobs, and maybe take on a new romantic partner. When things in life change, you may want to speak with a Sacramento Divorce Lawyer about whether it is appropriate to modify the terms of your divorce settlement.

To modify your divorce settlement, you can either approach the other party for an amicable change to the orders or file a motion with a judge for a hearing in court. During the hearing, your attorney can show evidence that might demand a modification to the orders. You can explain that you should have more custody because you live closer now or that you should be paying less in child support because you received a pay cut.

Should I Hire a Sacramento Lawyer During the Divorce Process?

It’s possible to navigate divorce proceedings without a lawyer. Some couples choose to do this in amicable situations. However, having legal counsel is usually always preferable when doing anything in the legal system. Hiring a Sacramento divorce lawyer will help you protect your rights and have a better chance in court than if you went solo. You may also hire an attorney for consulting purposes.

Divorces are emotional cases by their very nature. You will be very close to the situation and often emotional when it comes to talking about the divorce. A lawyer won’t have the same emotions, and they will approach your case from a place of objectivity and without bias.

A divorce lawyer can also give you a reasonable explanation of what to expect when all is said and done. While they can’t tell you exactly what the divorce settlement will look like, they can give you an honest appraisal of what you can expect before you get to court.

The Law Offices of Dianne M. Fetzer: An Experienced Sacramento Divorce Lawyer

Divorce can be emotionally draining for everyone involved. Going it alone leaves you vulnerable to taking a bad deal or being unable to advocate for your needs properly in court.

The Law Offices of Dianne M. Fetzer in Sacramento, CA can help clients through a divorce and give unbiased advice on how to proceed. We can represent you in court or negotiate with the other party’s lawyers. Contact us today to get started and see how we can assist you with your divorce.

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