Divorce & Legal Separation Services

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Divorce Lawyer in Sacramento

In California, certain requirements must be met before a divorce case can be opened.

First, the filing party must meet residency requirements, meaning that he/she must have been a resident of the State of California for at least six months prior to the date of filing, and a resident in the county in which he/she files for at least three months preceding the date of the filing. Upon opening a divorce case, a series of standard family law restraining orders go into effect, which have the effect of “freezing” all assets and debts to the extent possible while the divorce process proceeds. Notably, if children are involved, these standard family law restraining orders prevent either parent from removing the child/children from the State of California without written agreement and/or court order.

Secondly, California is a “no-fault” jurisdiction. This means that the family court will not apportion fault to one party or the other in regard to the breakdown of the marital relationship. In order to file for divorce in the State of California, the filing party simply needs to claim that “irreconcilable differences” have arisen such that the marital relationship cannot be repaired. The family courts will make no further inquiries on this topic.

Thirdly, California is a “community property” jurisdiction. This means that all assets and debts acquired during marriage are presumptively subject to equal division in the event of a divorce. However, presumptions are capable of being overcome. The California Family Code recognizes several instances where this presumption does not apply at all, and other instances where the community property presumptions may be overcome. Every case is different, and so are specific assets and debts and their treatment under the law.

Unlike divorce actions, legal separation actions may be filed in any county, and there are no residence requirements. Legal separation actions are, for all intent and purpose, the same as a divorce action. If children are involved, custody orders can be made. Property can be divided, and support orders can be made as well. The key difference between a divorce action and a legal separation action is that, upon the conclusion of a divorce action, the parties are legally restored to “single status”, whereas, upon the conclusion of a legal separation action, the parties remain legally married.

Why would someone pursue a legal separation action as opposed to a divorce action? Most commonly, this decision is made for residency purposes. If a party moves to a new county and has not yet resided there for three months, he/she may open a legal separation action. Once three months of residency in the new county have passed, the residency requirements are met, and the legal separation action can then be modified to a divorce action.

Another common reason a party seeks a legal separation as opposed to a divorce action are health insurance considerations. If the filing party is covered under their spouse’s employer-sponsored health insurance plan, and have no alternate means of coverage, a divorce judgment will have the effect of disenrolling the nonparticipant spouse/filing party from ongoing health insurance coverage. A legal separation action has the effect of resolving all issues as if it was a divorce case, while preserving his/her legal marital status upon conclusion. Since the parties remain legally married, the filing party remains a “nonparticipant” spouse under their spouse’s existing health insurance coverage.

There are other reasons why somebody would seek a legal separation as opposed to a divorce. Some individuals simply find it difficult to “check the box” for divorce, and decline to do so for psychological reasons. Some individuals belong to particular religious congregations which exclude divorced parishioners. By proceeding with a legal separation action, the filing party may preserve their standing within their existing congregation.

Unlike a divorce action, however, both parties have to agree to proceed with a legal separation action.

The divorce and legal separation process is extremely document-heavy, is not self-explanatory, and legal assistance is always recommended to assist individuals in navigating the process and the various issues which inevitably arise within the process. The Law Office of Kevin M. Cecil stands ready to guide you through this process.

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    Kevin M. Cecil
    Attorney at Law

    Meet Kevin M. Cecil

    Kevin M. Cecil is a lifelong Sacramento resident with an ongoing commitment toward service of the greater Sacramento community. Mr. Cecil graduated from California State University, Chico, and received his law degree from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. With experience in a variety of legal areas and settings, including, but not limited to, criminal defense, juvenile law, personal injury, and civil litigation, Mr. Cecil chose to concentrate on providing the best family law services in the greater Sacramento area, and has continued to do so for the past 13 years. He has assisted clients in many areas of family law, including divorce and legal separation, mediation, child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, domestic violence restraining orders, civil harassment restraining orders actions, guardianships, adoptions, and “ghostwriting” services.

    If you are seeking advice and/or legal representation from the leading divorce and family law lawyer in the greater Sacramento area, look no further than The Law Office of Kevin M. Cecil. Contact us to setup your consultation today!