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After eight months of separation, Paula Patton has filed papers in a Los Angeles court to divorce husband Robin Thicke.
Patton, an actress, and "Blurred Lines" singer Thicke have been married since 2005 and have a 4-year-old son together, reports CNN. Following the announcement earlier this year that the two had separated, Thicke has made a sometimes-uncomfortably public push to get back together with Patton, including releasing an album titled "Paula" dedicated to his wife.
Now that Thicke and Patton's marriage appears to be over, what legal issues may arise in what's sure to be a much-publicized divorce?
Thicke Must Respond to Petition Within 30 Days to Avoid Default
Under California law, Thicke has 30 days from the time he is served Patton's divorce petition if he wishes to have any say in the terms of the couple's divorce. If he fails to respond or chooses not do, the court can potentially enter a default judgment in favor of Patton. Although a spouse may be able to have a default judgment set aside after it is entered, doing so will be at the discretion of the court.
In Calif., Marital Property Is Community Property
California is, like many states, a community property state meaning that any property acquired by the couple during the marriage -- including wages earned, real property, and tangible items like vehicles and furniture -- is generally considered community property and subject to an equal division between the partners in the absence of a contrary agreement (like a prenup or a divorce settlement agreement).
Still, under community property rules, any property that the Thicke or Patton owned prior to the marriage, received through inheritance, or acquired through the use of either of these sources will generally be considered each spouse's separate property and not subject to division.
Prenuptial Agreement May Set Divorce Terms
The potential division of property and other terms of any divorce may be determined by a prenuptial agreement, if Thicke and Patton entered into one prior to the marriage.
Prenuptial agreements generally allow a couple to agree to the financial rights of each spouse both during the marriage and in the event of a divorce. If Thicke and Patton do have a valid prenup, the terms of the agreement must still be approved by a judge.
Prenuptial agreements, however, can't cover child custody and support. For that, Patton and Thicke will either have to hammer out an agreement on their own, or let a court decide.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.