Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a divorce, a legal separation, and an annulment?

A divorce (also called “dissolution of marriage” or “dissolution of domestic partnership”) terminates your marriage or domestic partnership. After you get divorced, you will be single, and you can re-marry or become a domestic partner again.

In the process of obtaining a divorce, you can ask the judge for orders like custody, visitation, child support, spousal support and partner support. In specific circumstances you may need to immediately file for an emergency hearing such as obtaining a temporary order, kick out order, or for domestic violence purposes. The Montes Law Firm provides an initial free consultation and assess your individual case, options and a plan of action that will provide optimal solutions.

California Residency Requirements

To file for divorce in California, either you or your spouse must have lived in:

  • California for the last 6 months, AND
  • The county where you plan to file the divorce for the last 3 months.

If you and your spouse have lived in California for at least 6 months but in different counties for at least 3 months, you can file in either county.

If you do not however meet the residency requirement, the law offices can still file for a legal separation on your behalf.

After six months, when you meet the residency requirement for a divorce, the law offices will then file an “amended petition” and ask the court for a divorce.

Top 6 Rules on Seeing Your Ex after the SeparationA legal separation does not end a marriage or domestic partnership. A legal separation does not allow you the right to marry or enter into another partnership with someone else because a legal separation does not divorce you. A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and decide on the distribution of money, property, and parenting issues. Couples sometimes prefer separation for religious reasons or often so that a spouse can be eligible to remain on the other spouses medical coverage.

You do not need to meet California’s residency requirement to file for a legal separation. As noted above you file for a legal separation, you may later be able to file an amended petition to ask as you do in a divorce the court for a divorce-after you meet the residency requirements.

In a legal separation case, you can still ask the judge for orders like custody, visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, child support, spousal support and partner support and any other orders you can get with a divorce case.

An annulment (or “nullity of marriage” or “nullity of domestic partnership”) is when a court says your marriage or domestic partnership is NOT legally valid. A marriage or domestic partnership that is incestuous or bigamous is never valid. Other marriages and partnerships can be declared “void” because: of force, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity; one of the spouses or partners was too young to legally marry or enter into a domestic partnership; or one of the spouses or partners was already married or in a registered domestic partnership.

Annulments are very rare. At The Montes Law Firm we help you assess your case to see if you qualify to have your marriage or domestic partnership annulled. A hearing with a judge is required generally.

What can I do to make my case Faster and Cheaper?

Divorce Pre-Planning is Key to saving you time and money! Contact The Montes Law Firm to schedule a free consultation to assist in the preparation and filing of your action. We Will provide you with the most cost effective solution that will bring you peace of mind.

Do Domestic Partners have Rights?

Starting January 1, 2005 in California domestic partners must file for dissolution, legal separation, or annulment to end their relationship, similar to married individuals.

Who are domestic partners?

Montes Family Law Postnuptial Agreement AttorneyDomestic partners are “two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.” People who have registered their domestic partnership with the California Secretary of State or the equivalent in another state will be considered domestic partners.

How do I become a domestic partner?

To be domestic partners, partners must:

  • File a notarized Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State;
  • Have a common residence;
  • Not be married or related by blood in a way that would prevent them from marrying;
  • Be at least 18; and
  • Either be members of the same sex or one or both of them is over 62 and eligible for Social Security benefits

How do I end a domestic partnership?

Domestic partners have special forms to start their case for dissolution, legal separation or annulment of their domestic partnership. The Montes Law Firm is experienced in handling such matters and will guide you through the process. The firm is familiar with all forms needed to end a domestic partnership.

What are the main differences between divorces of married persons and domestic partners?

Residency – Domestic partners who have registered in California do not have to be living in the state of California for a period of time. Instead, Domestic Partners have agreed to the jurisdiction of the California courts to end their domestic partnerships upon registering even if they move away or have never lived in California.

If couples have become Domestic Partners (or their equivalent) in other states, they can file in California to end their domestic partnership if at least one of them is living in California.

To file for legal separation or annulment, domestic partnership can file as soon as domestic partner has moved to California.

Partner support is a right that Domestic Partners are entitled to; however, the tax consequences vary from married individuals. Here are The Montes Law Firm, we maintain a network of tax experts, who daily work with our clients to explore their most advantageous tax planning. Partner support will probably not be taxable to the person receiving and tax deductible for the person paying; however, it is important to always consult your accountant for tax issues.

The law allowing for domestic partners to obtain dissolutions, legal separations and annulments is new. There are many things that are still uncertain regarding property, custody and tax issues. Here, at The Montes Law Firm we provide you with the most updated legal knowledge and current law that affect your legal issues.