Carmel Valley Divorce Lawyer

Only Certified Family Law Specialist in Carmel Valley

When you got married, the last thing you expected was that you would wind up wanting to live your life separately or have your spouse come to you and tell you they would like a divorce. However, divorce can be an excellent way to rebuild your life when your marriage falls apart and these days, there is less of a stigma attached to divorce. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), divorce rates have been steadily decreasing since 2000, with 2022 seeing a rate of 6.2 divorces per 1,000 people throughout the United States. 

The end of your marriage does not need to be the end of your life. You can protect your rights and come away with your fair share of the marital estate when you work with a trial-tested Carmel Valley divorce lawyer from Ratzer Dobis. Contact our family law attorneys to request a 100% free consultation today and learn more about how marital assets should be divided, whether alimony will be paid as part of your divorce settlement, and what to do if your spouse refuses to move forward with your divorce proceedings.

Are You Ready to File for Divorce in Carmel Valley?

Making the decision to file for divorce will not be easy in most cases. Even in situations where one spouse has done wrong or taken advantage of the other, you may not be sure whether you are ready to cut ties. When you aren’t sure whether divorce is the best option for you, consider a legal separation. This can help protect you if you ultimately decide to move forward with a divorce.

However, if you have made your decision and are ready to get divorced, you must file a petition with the Monterey County Superior Court or the family court system in the county where you live. California follows no-fault divorce laws per the California Courts Self-Help Guide, so you will not need to prove your spouse did anything wrong to get your divorce finalized. Instead, you can cite your irreconcilable differences as your reason for the breakup.

What if My Spouse Cheated or Caused the Marriage to End? 

Despite the fact that California is a no-fault divorce state, if your spouse did do something to ruin the marriage, you may be able to hold them accountable when it is time to discuss spousal support and alimony. For example, if you are the higher-earning spouse and your soon-to-be ex cheated on you, if they went on to seek alimony, you may be able to demand spousal maintenance due to your spouse’s infidelity. Likewise, if you are the higher-earning spouse and you cheated on your partner, they may request alimony.

However, it should be noted that any type of misconduct or adultery will not be taken into consideration as part of the division of your marital assets and debts.

What Happens if You Have a Prenuptial Agreement

If you have a pre-existing prenuptial agreement when you divorce, the process should go much more smoothly than it would without one. Although many people assume prenups are for high-wage earners, the truth is, that in any situation where one spouse may earn more than the other, prenuptial agreements can offer protection in the event of a divorce.

Your prenuptial agreement should have been written based on the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) under California Family Code, Part 5, Division 4, Chapter 2. If it wasn’t, it may not be considered valid or legally binding. Your spouse has the right to challenge the validity and enforceability of the prenuptial agreement, particularly if they have reason to believe it should be considered unconscionable.

If any provisions were included in your prenup that were unfair to either spouse, the prenup could be considered void. As long as both parties have given their consent, reviewed the other’s finances, and signed the prenup with a licensed notary, the prenup should be enforceable when you divorce. Your prenuptial agreement should include all provisions that would be discussed during the divorce settlement. As long as these details were included, your divorce could be settled sooner.

Common Points of Contention in Carmel Valley Divorce Proceedings

Before your divorce can be settled, there are certain stipulations you will need to discuss with your soon-to-be former spouse. Some of the areas that are most often in dispute include discussions surrounding child custody and support, division of marital assets and debts, and spousal support.

Child Custody Post-Divorce

It is not uncommon for families to disagree about how they will resolve child custody and parenting plans. Under California Family Code Section 3011, you will need to determine which parent will be the primary custodian, whether the other parent will have visitation rights, what visitation days and times to include, and how involved the non-custodial parent will be.

In some cases, particularly if one parent has substance abuse or domestic violence issues, it may be in the best interests of the children for the other parent to retain sole custody. Parents who do not have custody may still be entitled to visitation rights depending on the circumstances of your case. It is crucial to try to come to a resolution with your child’s other parent regarding child custody, otherwise, the judge presiding over your case will make these decisions for you.

California Child Support Laws

According to the Child Support Guidelines Calculator, parents are required to provide financial support no matter what their custody arrangement is. Child custody and child support or two entirely separate matters. Even if one parent does not have child custody or visitation rights, if paternity has been established, both parents will need to contribute financially. Both parent’s income, expenses, and other financial information will be taken into consideration to determine how much child support should be paid. 

In most cases, the non-custodial parent will be required to pay child support to the custodial parent. If you and your spouse can agree on a figure for monthly child support, you can include this provision as part of your divorce settlement. Be sure to review any potential child support offers from your child’s other parent with your divorce lawyer in Carmel Valley, CA to ensure your child’s other parent is paying their fair share.

Are you interested in finding out how much child support could be paid in your divorce settlement? Use our Carmel Valley child support calculator to learn more:

How Your Property and Assets Will Be Divided 

Spouses often find it difficult to divvy up their marital assets and property. There may be discrepancies over which property and assets are considered marital and which are separate. Any assets or debts brought into the marriage may be considered separate property whereas assets and debts incurred during the course of the marriage should be considered marital.

However, one spouse may feel entitled to a portion of the other spouse’s inheritance while another spouse may feel as though business debt should be shared among spouses since the funds were deposited into a joint bank account. For these reasons, the division of marital property and assets is often complicated. Based on California divorce laws under Community Property Section 760, all marital property will be divided 50/50. Instead of dividing marital debts and assets fairly, the state requires the division to be equal.

Your Carmel Valley divorce attorney with Ratzer Dobis can help you assert your rights and protect your boundaries when it is time to go through the community property division. We will ensure all communal property is taken into consideration and help uncover any assets or debts that may have been hidden in an attempt to further financial gain.

Whether Alimony Should Be Paid 

Alimony is not a requirement based on Family Code § 4320. Although spousal support can be ordered temporarily or permanently, this is only true for cases where there is a significant income disparity. If both spouses are on equal footing financially, alimony may not be necessary or appropriate as part of your divorce proceedings. 

However, if one spouse earns significantly more than the other, alimony can help the lesser-earning spouse begin to rebuild their life post-divorce. Depending on the length of your marriage and the physical and mental capacity of both spouses, alimony could also be awarded permanently.

Carmel Valley Divorce FAQ

Are you intimidated by the thought of negotiating with your ex? Are you worried that your former spouse will attempt to take advantage of you? We understand how overwhelming the end of a marriage can be. 

For that reason, we have answered some of the top questions surrounding Carmel Valley divorces below. We are available for a free consultation if you have other questions or concerns that are not addressed on this page.

What if my spouse agrees to the divorce?

If your spouse agrees to the divorce, it will proceed as an uncontested divorce. Since your spouse is not contesting the divorce, it should be easier to resolve the terms of your divorce settlement. Once you and your spouse figure out how to divide marital assets and debts, discuss alimony, and figure out your child custody and support plans where applicable, your divorce settlement can be sent to the judge for signing. Once your petition is granted, your divorce can be finalized.

Is my marriage eligible for annulment?

You are only eligible for annulment if your marriage should never have existed in the first place. If your spouse was already married, or you entered into a marriage through incest, an annulment may be granted. If you were coerced or forced into the marriage, the court may also be willing to grant your annulment. Marriages can also be annulled if one spouse is unable to give their consent due to age or mental capacity according to California Family Code § 2210.

It should be noted that if your marriage is annulled, you will still need to figure out how to divide communal property. However, alimony will not be available, as annulment means your marriage never existed whereas divorce is the end of a valid marriage.

What is a contested divorce?

In a contested divorce, your spouse is refusing to sign divorce papers or negotiate settlement terms. We may need to attend mediation before we can get your divorce finalized by a judge. While a contested divorce does not mean you will not be able to get divorced, it will prolong the process and cost you significantly more.

What is physical custody?

Physical custody refers to where the children primarily reside. A parent who has sole physical custody will become the child’s custodial parent while the other parent will be known as the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent may have visitation times and spend overnights with the children on weekends or any other days that may have been included as part of your parenting plan. However, in shared physical custody arrangements, children will typically spend equal amounts of time at both parent’s homes.

How do postnuptial agreements work?

A postnuptial agreement is essentially a prenuptial agreement that is signed after you have been wed. Your postnup will include many of the same provisions that a prenup or divorce settlement would include, such as:


  • Whether alimony will be paid
  • How much alimony will be paid
  • How your marital property and assets will be distributed
  • What your child custody arrangements might look like
  • Which parent will pay child support

Get Help From a Highly Experienced Carmel Valley Divorce Attorney Near Me

Although the divorce process can seem exhaustive, your family law attorney should be able to handle most of the legal details on your behalf. Once we understand the intricate details of your marital estate, we can work with your spouse’s attorney to come to a settlement that is in the entire family’s best interest. If you are worried about how your spouse will handle the divorce process but are unsure of where to turn for help, look no further than a top-rated Carmel Valley divorce lawyer with Ratzer Dobis. 

Our legal team offers intensive support and in-depth knowledge of the family law system so you can understand your rights and protect yourself from being taken advantage of. Find help deciding your next steps when you contact our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Reach us by phone or through our quick contact form to schedule yours as soon as today.


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