Q. Do I have to have a lawyer in family court?
Answer: No. You can represent yourself. Some judges are very accommodating of persons without lawyers, known as “pro pers”, and some are less so. You are, however, at a big disadvantage if the other side has a lawyer experienced in family law and you don’t, in our humble opinion.
Q. Will the court appoint a lawyer for me?
Answer: No. Courts appoint lawyers for some defendants in criminal cases. You are not entitled to a lawyer in family court, but may have one present at most hearings.
Q. Is there a website I could go to to find information about how the Family Court works?
Answer: You can try http://www.sccsuperiorcourt.org/family/default.htm, the self help portion of the Santa Clara County Family Court’s own web site.
Q. How long does it take to get a divorce?
Answer: California law requires a minimum of six months before you can legally be divorced.
Q. Can I get a divorce in California if I just moved here?
Answer: General residency requirements are six months in California and three months in the county of your residence or that of your spouse.
Q. What is the difference between a divorce, a legal separation, and an annulment?
Answer: A divorce ends the marriage and usually issues of support, property division and children’s issues are resolved. A legal separation does not end the marriage but usually issues of support, property division and children’s issues are resolved, making it so similar to a divorce that most people end up just getting divorced. The residency requirements of a divorce do not apply to a legal separation. An annulment means that the marriage was not legally valid, and the end result is that the marriage essentially never happened. There must be some reason that the marriage was not legally valid in order to get an annulment.