Do I Really Need an Attorney?
Going online may seem like the quickest, and cheapest alternative or downloading the forms and writing up your own divorce. However, I have had to repair damage from attempted “cheap” divorces when clients came to us facing threats posed by simple errors: not filling the forms out correctly, wrong wording regarding the family home, no information about support amounts, wrong documents filed, and finally – not completing the case and discovering you aren’t really divorced.
If you and your spouse have a good relationship, you may be surprised at how economical it is to have an experienced lawyer prepare your paperwork and supervise your agreement with your spouse. This assures the proper filings are made, and you and your family are protected and provided with what you need to rebuild your life.
The second downfall of handling your own divorce is the emotion involved. When a couple enters into a marriage, they never assume that they will be ending it in divorce. There are many reasons why married couples divorce and as varied as the circumstances are, almost every case has one underlying current – emotion.
Generally, at least one party (if not both) have some emotional frustrations or attachments that can sometimes make divorce proceedings difficult. When emotions take charge of separations or divorces, most splitting couples will end up having a contested divorce and require the representation of a seasoned litigation attorney who is experienced in court.
Other times, when the divorcing couple agrees on the majority of the conditions surrounding their case, they may only need a mediator to help smooth over some rough spots and can proceed with an uncontested divorce. Regardless of the particular situation that you find yourself in, you should speak with an attorney to protect your rights and property.
What Can Affect My Divorce?
There are many elements of a divorce that can affect your outcome. The state of California recognizes two grounds for divorce; irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity. The latter is almost never used because a medical professional must provide proof that one spouse has been determined to be medically insane. Everything from the length of the marriage, the number of children between the couple, the income of the household and issues such as domestic violence or previous divorces can all affect your case. Every divorce situation is unique and it is strongly recommended that you work with an attorney to receive the strong legal guidance should you choose to file for dissolution.
How Much Will My Divorce Cost?
The more issues that you and your spouse disagree upon, the more expensive the entire process will end up being. Family Law attorneys work on an hourly basis so time is money.
It is impossible to say how much each person’s family law case will cost as we don’t know what is going to happen. In some cases, a spouse believes things will settle amicably but in reality, everything is litigated.
Furthermore, court filings fees and experts, if necessary, will add to the cost. In the worst case scenarios, when all the issues become contested, litigation can be time consuming and costly.
We try to help clients make smart decisions regarding case management in order to keep fees reasonable.
The best way for you and your spouse to avoid the drain of a contested divorce is to try to work with a mediator or try to come to an agreement before matters get out of hand. Decide what communal assets and property will be divided during a divorce. If children are involved, it is important to remember that issues that you may have between you and your spouse do not need to spill over into their lives and working out a shared custody agreement can be beneficial to both you and the children. It is also important that if you have any questions regarding your divorce or your court proceedings that you contact an attorney.
What Does the Term “No-Fault” Divorce Mean?
California is a no-fault divorce state which means that the court is not concerned with your reason behind getting a divorce. Some states require that you prove fault of the other party such as committing adultery or spousal abuse. However, today one party can file for a divorce by simply stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the two parties have irreconcilable differences.
How Is an Annulment Different From a Divorce?
A divorce puts an end to the marriage that once existed. However, an annulment is request to make is as if the marriage never existed, wiping the slate clean. Annulments are only granted to couples under certain conditions.
Should I Settle My Divorce or Take The Case to Trial?
Whenever possible we encourage clients to settle the case outside of court, using trial litigation as the last resort. The court encourages people to use alternate dispute resolution tactics in order to save everyone both time and money. However, some highly disputed cases are too complex to settle outside of court and are better resolved at trial.
How Is the Property Divided In a Divorce Case?
When you file for a divorce all the property will be divided up by marital property and separate property. Marital property is considered to be anything that you and your spouse acquired together during the marriage. All marital property will be divided up between the two parties. Separate property is anything that you received from a third party as a gift or form of inheritance. All separate property remains with the original owner.
Who Is More Likely to Be Granted Child Custody, the Mother or the Father?
In today’s society, the court is not permitted to make decisions based on gender preference. The custody agreement should be based on the child’s needs and best interests.
Can I Modify the Child Custody Agreement?
There is a way to have the child custody agreement modified upon court approval. Sometimes there is a time limit that must pass and you must also be able to show a change in circumstances for you or the other party. Visitation and child support can also be modified.
How Long Are We Obligated to Pay Child Support?
In California, both parents are required to financially support their children until they reach the age of 18. There are other outlying factors such as the child getting married, becoming emancipated, graduating from high school or joining the military. However, in cases where the child has special needs and cannot support themselves, child support could be extended.
What Happens If the Other Parent Fails to Pay Child Support?
In California, there are enforcement methods available to help you collect past-due support. Speak with your divorce attorney about all your options including wage garnishment, contempt of court, arrest and more.
What Are My Options If I Am Subject to Family Violence?
If you are suffering from spousal abuse or any type of domestic violence, be sure to take swift legal action to ensure your safety. There are ways to file a restraining order so that you are removed from the bad situation. Speak with a family lawyer at my firm without delay.
Do I Have to Disclose All My Financial Information?
Yes!! It is very important that you are thorough and truthful in your disclosures. If you omit an asset, that asset can be awarded, in its entirety to the other party. There are several cases that exemplify how seriously the court takes assets that have been omitted from disclosures. Don’t do it!! Play by the rules and disclose everything.
Do I Have to Give the Other Side My Financial Information?
Yes, it is very important that you fully, and truthfully, disclose all information asked for in the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. Family Code Section 2104 is the code section that discusses disclosures. It is a very important document relating to fiduciary disclosure obligations that are key to California family law.
It is very important to your case that the disclosure is complete. Remember the financial documents themselves are not filed with the court. They are served upon the other side.
What Is an Omitted Asset?
An asset or obligation that existed when the case was filed, settled, or tried and was forgotten, ignored, or omitted from the equal division of assets that are required by Family Code section 2556. California is a community property state – all assets and debts are divided equally. If an asset, or obligation (debt), was not included in the Settlement Agreement, Stipulated Judgment, or divided during a trial, and it is not included in the final judgment, it is an omitted asset.
As a Family Law Attorney, I look to the PDD’s before suggesting any settlement be offered. Once the PDD’s and then FDD’s have been served, the parties have reasonable assurance that all assets have been disclosed. The PDD’s are signed, under penalty of perjury, that the information is true and correct, and complete.
Family Code section 2105 discusses Disclosures. Failure to fully disclose exposes you to a possible Motion to Set Aside, and/or breach of fiduciary duty that caries very serious consequences. Family Code section 1101(g) and (h) cover fiduciary duty.