Family Law Terms
Dissolution: This is the exact same thing as divorce. Technically in California marriages and domestic partnerships are dissolved.
Same–Sex partners: Divorce law applies the same to officially registered domestic partners. Same sex marriages were upheld by the California Supreme court in May 2008.
Domestic partnership: A status given to unmarried couples that gives them much of the same rights as married couples including visitation rights, hospital and jail visits, insurance coverage, etc.
Nullity: Formerly referred to as annulment, a judgment for nullity means the marriage never existed. This is much different than a normal divorce (dissolution) which states the marriage will cease to exist at some point in time. Either a nullity or a dissolution restore a person's status to single, but with a nullity, you can remarry right away whereas with a divorce you have to wait months before you can remarry.
Legal separation: The parties are not legally divorced as they remain legally joined. The court can make all the same orders it can make with a normal divorce regarding support, property and payments.
Community property: Just about all of the property acquired after marriage is community property. This includes debt and income. Half of your paycheck belongs to your spouse and vice versa. Property acquired after separation (but before divorce) is separate property.
Separate property: Property that is owned by one of the spouses.
Apportionment: A process used to decide what percent of the property acquired during marriage is owned by either of the spouses. This is usually necessary when both separate property and community property are used to buy something.
Post–marital agreement: An agreement made that may deal with property division, custody, visitation, etc. This is sometimes referred to as a post–nuptial agreement.
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