What Are the Elements of a California Divorce?

These days, divorces is a relatively common, yet despite this, every divorce is different. These differences notwithstanding, there are some common elements that are common to all divorces.


California is a “community property” state, meaning that all property and debts accumulated during the marriage are equally divided in the divorce. This includes income made, real estate purchased, credit card debt incurred, personal property amassed, and almost everything else.

On the other hand, property accumulated prior to marriage is considered “separate property”. “Separated property,” however, can be complex, and for it to remain “separate” the owner must keep it separate, meaning that the owner cannot co-mingle the separate property with community property.

Gifts from family members and inheritances, however, are excluded from community property even if a spouse receives them during the marriage.

What will you do about the property? Consult a Los Angles divorce lawyer before property division is discussed.


A court may award “spousal maintenance” or “alimony” to one of the parties. The court will determine the duration and amount of spousal maintenance by considering such factors as:

  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • The parties’ needs
  • The parties’ financial resources and liabilities
  • The impact on the children if the primary parent must work
  • The contribution the parties’ made to the marital responsibilities
  • Any contributions the parties made to each other’s education/career
  • Tax consequences
  • All available income sources for the parties

CHILD CUSTODYChild holding a heart

If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on child custody, California courts use the “best interest” standard to determine what kind of custody arrangement is best for the child. To determine what is in the “best interest” of the child, the court looks at:

  • Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the other parent
  • The historical contact between the parents and the child
  • The child’s health, safety, and welfare with either parent
  • The parents’ mental and physical health, including alcohol or drug use
  • The child’s preference(taking into consideration the child’s intelligent, understanding, and maturity)
  • Evidence of abuse

After the court makes its determination, it will order a final parenting time order that is binding on the parents.

Now that you have determined the finances and property what about the children. Seek legal advice from a qualified Family Law Attorney.


When a California court determines child support, it examines certain factors, including:

  • The parents’ incomes
  • The number of children the parent must supporting
  • How much time does the parent spend with each parent

If you are facing a divorce and would like to discuss these issues in more depth, our family law attorneys at Lavinsky Law are here to help. To arrange for your complimentary consultation, we invite you to call us today at (310) 929-6411.