Question About Divorce Law in California

Dear Law Guy, When I married my husband, I was a little overweight, he was quite trim. Now I’m slim, and he’s put on the pounds and I want a divorce. I used to think he was the best I could do, but now I’m a brand new babe in the Bay Area and I want to see what I’m worth, if you know what I mean.   What’s the quickest way to get a divorce?

First off, because divorce, like marriage, is subject to state law, you should check whatever information I’m about to give you with a divorce lawyer in Oakland who will naturally be more tuned in to the particulars of divorce law in your home state. in California, all divorces are “no fault” divorces, which means you can request a divorce without claiming your spouse has done something wrong. (Be happy you don’t live in the 1800’s. Back then you could only get a divorce in California if your husband were impotent, extremely cruel, had deserted or neglected you, was habitually intemperate, committed fraud or adulter, or had been convicted of a felony.) You, as the first to file, would be the “Petitioner,” and your husband would be the “Respondent,” but the distinction is not that curcial. Divorce in California need not be mutual, meaning either spouse can file and obtain a divorce without the cooperation of the other spouse. You asked about the “quickest way to get a divorce.” No matter what, it will take at least six months for your divorce to be finalized. That’s the mandatory waiting period. If you want your divorce to actual become final as the six-month waiting period passes, you will want to settle your divorce case and implement the terms of your settlement within that time frame. Most divorces do not happen that quickly. In fact, they typically take a lot longer than the minimum six months. You can explain your situation to a lawyer – which with all due respect may or may not inspire them to work quickly. But even if it takes a while, you ought to be thankful that California divorce law is relatively simply. The default grounds for dissolution of marriage are “irreconcilable difference,” which are accepted as true at the word of just one spouse. If I were you, I might not go into detail about your superficial reasons for seeking the divorce, so as not to risk trying the patience of the judge. The other major piece of advice I’d give is to stay as civil as possible with your husband. While on the one hand he has no way of ultimately blocking the divorce, he can certainly drag it out considerably and make it much less pleasant. So, as much as possible, try not to make it personal. You might also think about what you’re willing to accept in terms of a divorce settlement. As the Petitioner, you have more of an incentive to accept a settlement which favors your spouse. He, or rather his lawyer, will be well aware of that, and may use that to chisel you.

Power of Attorney Question

My Aunt passed away last year – my cousin convinced her to change her will to leave him everything and nothing to his brother.  While she was alive, he had power of attorney.  She was receiving checks for some land we sold awhile back – in the midst of  her illness, somebody sent a note to the buyer of the land and instructed them to send the checks to my cousin’s address and not my Aunt.  As he had POA, we knew he could cash/deposit these checks.  However, since she died, these checks which are made out to my Aunt in her name have been and are still being cashed.  Is this against the law and is there anything we can do about it?
After your sunt’s death the power of attorney was no longer effective.  Upon your aunts assets and liabilities became the property of her estate.  The executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for collecting assets and paying any of the estate’s liabilities before distributing the estate to persons named in the will.  If your cousin is the executor of the estate, he would be able to cash the checks on behalf of the estate.
If you believe that your case used undue influence to cause your aunt to change her will, you would need to speak with an attorney experienced in estate litigation to challenge the will.