Filing and understanding the divorce laws in California can be a daunting and frustrating journey. You want the best outcome for you and your children, and as a Certified Family Law Specialist, it is my duty and my goal to help you navigate the California Family Code and court system.
I have been practicing family law for more than 34 years…I’ve seen and done it all.
While every case is unique, my approach remains the same: to preserve and protect you and your children and your assets. I always try to keep a case from going to court or exploding into a custody battle because it minimizes conflict, anxiety, and stress, as well as reduces cost.
However, I will not hesitate to fight for you in court aggressively. I am an experienced trial attorney, and I will fight on your behalf. Rest assured, I know the legal system and best practices!
If you take advantage of my free divorce consultation, it will help if you understand the basics of divorce law and custody. Read below to learn more:
- Family Law: What It Is and What It Covers
- What are the Grounds for Divorce?
- What are the Requirements for Filing for a Divorce in California?
- Divorce: The Process and What’s Next
- Child Custody: Determining What Is in the Best Interests of the Children
- Child Support: Ensuring Financial Stability
- Spousal Support: Determining Whether Support Should Be Paid and How Much
- Property Division: Dividing Marital Property Fairly
- How I Can Help You Through the Divorce Process
Family Law: What It Is and What It Covers
As you may know, the family law branch deals with family-related matters and domestic relations. It was designed to help you through a wide range of legal issues, from marriage and divorce to child custody orders, and supports legal services. I have over 34 years of experience in this arena and can help you navigate its complexities.
Some additional family law areas include:
- Pre-nuptial agreements
- Paternity challenges
- Domestic Violence
- Grandparent rights and visitation
- Same-sex couples
- Unmarried parents
I continue to monitor the ever-evolving changes of today’s family and how the California law systems are trying to adapt to today’s society.
Their goal is to resolve family disputes fairly and equitably.
I’m here to help you by educating you on your rights and legal options.
What are Grounds for Divorce in California?
During my free consultation, I usually get asked, “Bill, what are the legal grounds for divorce?”
Here are some of the legal grounds for divorce in California:
- Irreconcilable differences: This is probably the number one legal basis for your divorce…irreconcilable differences. Basically, this means you and your spouse have reached a point of no return, and the only way forward is for you both to go your separate ways.
- Incalculable mental cruelty: If you have a mentally and/or psychologically abusive spouse and this person makes it impossible to live together, then this could work for your situation.
- Abandonment: Has your spouse left you holding the household and family responsibilities? Are they planning to never return? If so, then you may be able to use this as your divorce basis. It typically requires that you show that your spouse left voluntarily and without justification.
- Felony conviction: A felony conviction can be grounds for divorce, but usually requires that the convicted spouse be incarcerated for at least one year. There are exceptions and this can be discussed with me.
- Incurable insanity: Incurable insanity is a ground for divorce but requires that your spouse has been incurably insane for at least five years and that you did not know about the mental illness at the time you got married.
What are the California Requirements for Filing for a Divorce?
For me to properly file your divorce case, you will need to meet the following family law requirements:
- You or your spouse must have been a resident of California for at least six months.
- You must have been a resident of the county in which you plan to file for at least three months. While I can help you if you live in any California county, I specialize in the counties of Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernadino, and San Diego.
- Your marriage must be irrevocably broken with no chance of resolution.
If you meet these requirements, we can file your divorce and submit a petition to the Orange County court.
We will also need to file a financial disclosure form, which includes basic financial information about your income, assets, and debts.
Once the petition and financial disclosure form are filed, the court will set a hearing date.
At the hearing, the court will decide whether to grant you the divorce. They will also make decisions about child custody, support, spousal support, and property division.
Divorce: The Process and What It Entails
Once we’ve filed the petition for divorce, then your spouse will be served with the petition and has 30 days to file a response. If he/she does not file a response, then your divorce will proceed by default.
If your spouse does file a response, then you will begin the court process of discovery, which is the exchange of information between you both. We can get this done through written questions, depositions, and subpoenas (if necessary).
Once the discovery is complete, you and your spouse will be required to appear before a judge for a settlement conference. This is your last opportunity for you both to reach a settlement on all outstanding family and custody issues and avoid a trial.
If an agreement is not reached, then your case will proceed to trial.
At your trial, each side will present evidence and argument in support of their respective positions. The judge will then decide and issue a final divorce decree.
Child Custody: Determining What Is in the Best Interests of the Child
In California, child custody is dictated by looking at what is in the best interests of your child or children. The court will consider a variety of factors when making this determination, including the child’s age, health, and relationship with each parent.
Other factors that may be considered include your work schedule, the home living environment, financial stability, and your ability to care for the child. The court may also consider the child’s wishes if the child is old enough to express a preference.
Custody battles are intricate and delicate, and I will advise you on your legal issues and options under the law.
Child Support: Ensuring Financial Stability
For California, child support is usually calculated using a formula known as the “guideline support calculation.” This calculation considers each parent’s income, the number of children, and the amount of time each of you spends with your child or children.
There are other factors that may be considered, including the needs of your child (or children), the standard of living of your family, and the income of the custodial parent(s).
Spousal Support: Determining Whether Support Should Be Paid and How Much
Spousal support (also known as alimony) is awarded based on many factors, including the length of your marriage, each spouse’s income and earning capacity, and your individual financial needs.
As with child support, the court will other factors that may impact the length and amount of financial support.
Property Division: Dividing Marital Property Fairly
In California, the property is divided equally between you and your spouse. This is known as the “community property” division.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if one spouse has significantly more income than the other, the court may award a larger portion of the property to the less-earning spouse.
We would need to sit down and review your specific case, but you can trust that I will fight for you and get you the best possible property outcome.
How I Can Help You Through the Divorce Process
The divorce process is complex, and I am here to help you!
If you are going through a divorce, or are considering filing for one, reach out to me for a free consultation.
I can help you understand any legal issue and ensure that your rights are protected, including your attorney-client relationship.