What do I file for – Divorce, Separation or Annulment?

What do I file for – Divorce, Separation or Annulment?
Hmm … they all kind of do the same thing right? End your relationship legally. But for the unaware, here is the 101 on these matters to help you choose which one is the best for your situation.

FYI As of January 1, 2005 all domestic partnerships are also required to file for dissolution, legal separation or annulment to be able to end their union legally.


This process legally ends your marriage or partnership. It may also be known as “dissolution of domestic partnership” or “dissolution of marriage.”
If you get divorced, your status will be returned to single and ready to mingle and is allowed by law to remarry or enter another domestic partnership.
What do you get from getting divorced? The judge can grant you division of property, restraining orders (domestic violence cases), custody and visitation, spousal support, child support, partner support and other stuff that you’re entitled to.
For married people living in California, you MUST, HAVE AND SHOULD meet California’s residency requirement before being able to file for divorce.
Legal Separation:
Legal separation does not invalidate your marriage or partnership. For this process you are still legally married to the other person and can’t get remarried or enter a domestic partnership with another. This is usually chosen by some people for religious reasons or they just don’t want to live together but needs to decide on how things like money, property, and custody should be divided.
This is the process wherein the courts declare that there was no marriage at all. It can also be known by other terms like “nullity of marriage” or “nullity of domestic partnership.” The court can declare you marriage NULL and VOID if:
• Your union or partnership was bigamous (you were very married or were in a partnership with someone but still got hitched with another) or incestuous (you married or entered a domestic partnership with a family member or 1st degree relative).
• You were coerced, mentally or physically incapable of getting married or entering a domestic partnership
• One of the partners was a minor at the time of the marriage or domestic partnership


For annulments, there can be complications when it comes to custody because parentage have to be established. Get a good lawyer for this http://www.tomhoganlaw.com

Dividing the Assets and Liabilities:

In the sunshine state of California, any asset and liability incurred within the start and end of the relationship of a married couple or domestic partnership is considered “community property.” Meaning everything is 50/50.
For people seeking dissolution of marriage in California, the courts usually orders out a divorce settlement and both parties are asked to sign a Marital Settlement Agreement (unless contested). For contested divorces, it usually gets pretty messy when it comes to dividing the assets and liabilities of a marriage or domestic partnership.
The things that could be up for grabs during the dissolution of marriage or legal separation are:
• Any property that is presumed community property. To get avoid sharing your half of the property with your ex-spouse or partner, you should be able to:
– Prove in the deed or evidence of any document that shows the title is a separate property and not a community property (ex. Property was acquired before the union or partnership)
– Both parties have agreed that this is not a joint property or community property
But always remember here that the operative is “CONTEST.” Meaning everything can be contested , so be prepared.
• In addition to property, debts incurred while being together is also considered a shared responsibility.
• Debts incurred after the date of the end of the relationship maybe taken into consideration if:
– It was for the basic necessities of the spouse or children produced within the marriage or domestic partnership and where the court orders support for them. If there was no agreement or court order, the debt will have to be settled by either spouse. The offset of responsibility will depend on the needs and the ability to pay of either spouse during the time the debt was obtained.
– It was for unnecessary needs of the spouse or children produced within the marriage or domestic partnership and where the court orders support for them. The debt has to be settled by the spouse who incurred the debt, no offset.

The court may also take into consideration the economic situation of both parties and award assets to either parties that they feel is just and equal to both parties. The court may also award part of the share of one party to the other party if the court feels that there has been deliberate misappropriation in the declaration of assets and liabilities of one party (example, not declaring all assets and liabilities so that the other party seeking settlement or support will not be able to get as much or end up with much more debt after the process).

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