Santa Cruz Family Law Attorney

Divorce and Other Options When you Want to Terminate Your Marriage

If you are considering divorce it is important to understand your options. In California, the law provides three approaches for you to alter or terminate your marriage. The first option is divorce which may be used to terminate your marriage. The second option is nullity which may be used to prove the marriage never existed. Last, legal separation offers many of the resolutions of divorce but does not actually severe the legal relationship.

The most common approach used to terminate a marriage is divorce. In addition to ending the legal relationship you will be required you to divide your community property, resolve child custody issues and determine support amounts. Divorce may be an effective means to terminate the marriage and allow both parties to move forward when it is clear there is no opportunity for reconciliation.

Another common alternative is a nullity action. To nullify a marriage you must be able to prove the marriage failed to comply with legal formalities. A common example would be when one spouse was a minor and could not give valid consent. A common reason to avoid a nullity action is because it may terminate your rights to community property or spousal support. However a nullity action may have some benefits including: removal of residency requirements or it complies with your religious beliefs.

The last option available in California is legal separation. Like a divorce, a legal separation requires the spouses to divide community property, resolve child custody issues and determine support amounts. It does not however terminate the legal relationship created by marriage. This may be an attractive solution for couples who want to maintain legal benefits of marriage like health insurance but want to end the physical relationship.

If you are considering terminating your marriage it is important to understand the benefits and disadvantages of all three choices. An attorney can help you determine which offers the best solution for your particular needs.

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant only to provide information and is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions concerning your particular case you should make an appointment to talk to an attorney or mediator about your options. I would love to hear what other estate planning or familily law issues you find important.

by Keith Dysart, Santa Cruz Family Law Attorney and Mediator

External Publication Links:


Return to Family Law and Mediation Articles