Marital Status

The marital status [married, single, divorced, legally separated, widowed or annulled] is always an issue in any dissolution, legal separation or annulment case. In a family law case in San Diego, California there must be a valid marriage for a petition for divorce, legal separation or annulment. This requires that all of the formalities be complied with however there is at least one very important exception which is the "putative spouse". The putative spouse is one who entered a voidable marriage in the good faith belief that the marriage was valid and lived as husband and wife and held themselves out as married to the general public. This is codified in the California Family Law Code under Section 2251. In a "putative" marriage, the Court treats the case as if the persons were married for orders.

A married person is one who is legally married. In the courts in San Diego, California including San Diego, El Cajon, Vista and Chula Vista, the Court's recognize marriages which are legitimate from another country as being legitimate in this country and also recognizes divorces from other countries as being divorced in the United States. Some countries do not have divorce [such as the Philippines] so a spouse married in the Philippines would have the marriage recognized in San Diego, California. However, if the residency requirement is met {6 months residence in the State of California and 4 months residence in the County of San Diego} then the spouse can petition for a divorce in San Diego even though the law in their country would prohibit a divorce and the Court here will process. In San Diego, California, there is a procedure for a confidential marriage and this is very technical. The County Clerk's Office has additional information on this procedure and there are Clerk's of the Court in El Cajon, Chula Vista, San Diego and Vista at the court houses.

A single person is one who is not married. A single person can be divorced or widowed or never married. In California, a marriage has to take place between two consenting adults who are of the opposite sex. In California, persons of the same sex can register as domestic partners however this is not considered a marriage under the laws of the State of California. A single person can also have been married and have the marriage annulled. Annulment is very rare and is used only in very limited circumstances. If you believe your marriage was not valid [other spouse was married at time of your marriage, fraud was committed as to the issue of procreation or impotency or other facts which would warrant annulment under the Family Law Code, you should seek an appointment with our office to discuss your matter. Annulments are disfavored under the law in San Diego, California as the Court's favor marriage.

There are times when a spouse with a pending divorce may want to terminate their legal status however there may be other issues which cannot be so easily resolved such as custody, visitation, child support, spousal support or division of assets and debts. In San Diego, California a party to a dissolution is eligible for a "status only" judgment if the time period of six months has passed since the date of service or the date of response. This is a mandatory time period and cannot be reduced in San Diego, California. For a legal separation, however, there is not a six month period for a judgment of legal separation.

The law provides for the dissolution of status however there are many technical requirements and an attorney should be consulted to make sure that the requirements are met. It is not unknown for parties to a divorce to believe they are divorced when they are not under the law and then remarry and start new families. This creates many issues not only in family law but also in estate planning and probate in the event one of the spouses dies while still married to their former spouse yet having re married and have a new family. This can be avoided with professional and competent legal services. The parties must exchange their preliminary declarations of disclosure and file the proof of service of these with the Court prior to any status judgment being entered. This preliminary declaration of disclosure consists of the schedule of assets and debts and the income and expense declaration. In addition, the party requesting the bifurcation [separation of legal status from remainder of pending family law issues] must hold the other party harmless from any taxes which would not have been payable if the parties had still been married. This requires an analysis by a certified public accountant. In addition, pension plans normally need to be "joined". A joinder is a legal proceeding in which a third party [someone other than a husband and wife in a divorce case in this example] is made a party to the divorce where there is an interest which needs to be protected. Bifurcations are favored in many divorce cases in San Diego, California if all of the requirements are met and only a few are listed above.

A licensed and competent attorney can give you the legal advice and representation you need and deserve. Do not let yourself be in the position where you think you are not married and divorced and you are, in reality, not. Let our firm guide you through this complicated process.

Contact Us Online or call us at 858-312-8500 in Southern California. Our San Diego marriage lawyers will be pleased to offer you a complimentary and confidential consultation up to a length of 30 minutes to discuss strategies and techniques to assist in protecting your rights and trying to obtain your legal goals.

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