In my years as a family law attorney, I have learned that couples fall in love for many reasons and that there are just as many reasons they want marriages to end. While some of my clients cannot resolve severe conflict in their relationships, others simply grow apart after many years. Whether you want to end your marriage permanently or need to take a long- or short-term break, you have many decisions to make, including choosing the best process to achieve your goals.

As explained by the State Bar of California, couples have three options for ending the marital relationship:

  • Divorce is the most common way to end a marriage legally. Depending on a number of factors — for example, the number of years you were married, whether you share children, the value and complexity of your estate and your ability to reach a settlement agreement — divorce can be accomplished relatively simply with limited court involvement. In some cases, however, it can involve a trial.
  • Annulment legally declares that the marriage never existed. This option may be available if your marriage was legally invalid because it was bigamous, incestuous, based on fraud or deceit, or one of the parties was underage. Annulment generally requires a court appearance.
  • Legal separation does not technically mark the legal end of the marriage. In cases in which divorce is not appropriate or one spouse does not want to end the marriage permanently, legal separation may be the best option to obtain court approval for the division of property, issues pertaining to the children and spousal support.

Many couples turn to me to discuss their situations before they make a decision on how to proceed. As an experienced California divorce attorney, I take the time to explain the most appropriate options for their particular circumstances and to educate them on the results they can expect.