Marriage Dissolution

In California, if one party wants a marriage dissolution, the other party has no choice but to proceed to a marriage dissolution unless, of course, s/he can convince the other party not to proceed within a six-month period of time.  One party can file the petition in one of the California Superior Courts, but a final judgment or decree of dissolution cannot be issued by the court for six months after the other party has been served with the proper papers, i.e., at least the Petition and Summons.  If children are involved, some other paperwork is required.  If the parties cannot agree on the terms of the marriage dissolution, then the case is considered “contested” marriage dissolution and an attorney should assist you in court proceedings to be held before a judge.

marriage dissolutionThe parties can agree to the terms of the marriage dissolution, but paperwork must be properly completed and submitted to the court for approval before a final marriage dissolution judgment can be signed by the judge plus the proper procedure must be followed.  The parties are not required to attend a hearing if they agree to the terms.

Should you engage a Legal Document Assistant to prepare your marriage dissolution papers?  Legal Document Assistants or paralegals are not permitted to practice law.  They can merely prepare the paperwork without giving legal advice.  Frazee Law Group has experienced some nightmare experiences for which the clients pay more to attain a marriage dissolution than if they had gone to an attorney in the first place.  For instance, one legal document assistant collected the spousal support but never gave the money to the other party who was suppose to receive the money and disappeared.  Another legal document assistant prepared the papers incorrectly with regard to child custody and support and the procedure had to be started all over.  Legal Document Assistants are not held to the high standard as an attorney.

Many legal questions arise in the marriage dissolution such as jurisdictional, property, child custody and support and spousal support.  If you have any legal questions, an attorney should answer your questions.  Frazee Law Group has a high standard in handling the marriage dissolution for its clients whether the parties agree to the terms or the parties disagree as to the terms of the marriage dissolution, and the case becomes a contested proceeding.

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Divorce is a court proceeding in which the couple separates due to the fault of one or both of the parties.  A party must prove “fault” in order to secure a final judgment or decree of divorce.  Not many states have fault divorces any longer.  New York was one of the last states to eliminate “fault.”  California is a “no fault” state and thus has “Marriage Dissolution – not divorce.

Summary Marriage Dissolution

When the parties agree as to all terms of the marriage dissolution, California has a somewhat simplified procedure if:

(1) The couple has only been married or in a domestic partnership for five years or less.

(2) Have no children together.

(3) Do not want spousal or partner support from each other.

(4) The community property is not worth more than $40,000.

(5) Neither of the parties has separate property worth more than $40,000.

(6) The total of the community property. obligations (other than motor vehicles) is $6,000 or less.

Not only is the paperwork simplified but also the court costs are reduced. In the regular marriage dissolution, the parties in a contested proceeding often must pay two court filing fees: one for the petitioner and another for the respondent in the total amount of $435 times two or $870. In the summary marriage dissolution only one court fee of $435 must be paid. In addition, if both parties (husband wife) come into Frazee Law Group with an appointment, RoseAnn Frazee can prepare the documents necessary for this process in an hour or less with a charge of $399 and be responsible for filing the documents with the court.  This service is available, along with all other services, in the evening or weekends.  Therefore, the cost for this marriage dissolution with Frazee Law Group is $834.

Legal Separation

Legal Separation is handled in the same manner as the marriage dissolution in California.  The parties may decide on a legal separation to keep health insurance in effect, for pension benefit rights or any other reason.  One of the major difference besides some benefits of marriage between a legal separation and the marriage dissolution is that neither party may re-marry until they have a marriage dissolution.

Nullity of Marriage

Nullity of Marriage or marriage annulment requires a complicated marriage dissolution procedure.  First of all, you can file for marriage dissolution or legal separation at any time.  However, an annulment does have a statute of limitations deadline.  Once the statute of limitations runs out, you can no longer file for an annulment.  The period of time within which to file for an annulment depends on the reason why the annulment is filed.  In most cases, the statute of limitations is four years.

Such a Nullity may be valuable to someone who has money or property at stake because the parties are taken back to the situation before they were married.   The marriage would be declared null and void with no rights vested in either party based upon the marriage.  If there is no property to be distributed or in dispute, then the part(ies) may consider whether the extra expense and process are worth nullity judgment as opposed to a marriage dissolution judgment.

The party who desires the annulment must prove the elements of the basis for nullity.  This proof may be by live testimony or declaration depending on the judge or courtroom location. A marriage is NEVER legally valid when it is:

(1) Incestuous (the person who are married or in a registered domestic partnership) is close blood relatives.

(2) Bigamous (the spouse or domestic partner is already married to or in a registered domestic partnership with someone else.

Other marriage and domestic partnerships can be declared invalid because of:

(1) Age at the time of marriage was under 18 years of age.

(2) Unsound mind in that a party was unable to understand the nature of the marriage including obligations that come with it.

(3) Force in that a party consented to get married as a result of force.

(4) Physical incapacity in that one spouse was physically incapable of “consummating” the relationship.

(5) Fraud must have been committed by a party about something vital to the relationship that directly affected why the party who was deceived agreed to the marriage.  Some examples are marrying only to get a green card or hiding the inability to have children.

You may remember that Rene Zellweger who had a four-month marriage to Kenny Chesney received an annulled on the grounds of fraud. Britney Spears secured an annulment after a drunken wedding in a Vegas chapel.

Some marriages are invalid from the beginning.  Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones tried to declare his marriage to Jerry Hall was null and void by arguing that their Hindu wedding in Bali was invalid.  The parties settled with money and property going to Jerry Hall, and the marriage was probably never declared invalid.

A legal annulment and Catholic Church annulment are two different procedures.  The Catholic Church has its own reasons and procedures.  A legal annulment may help you secure a Catholic Church annulment.


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