Family Law

  • CALIFORNIA FAMILY LAW

    Divorce, Child Custody, Visitation, Child Support, Spousal Support, Domestic Violence

    If you have decided to end your marriage, you have options regarding which method works for you, which type you qualify for and where you must file. The two types of California Divorces are the Dissolution of Marriage and Summary Dissolution of Marriage.

    Summary Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)

    A Summary Dissolution is an easier way to file for a divorce, but there are strict requirements for you and your spouse and you have to meet the residency requirements:

    1. Married under 5 years
    2. Do not have over $6000 in community debt (debt incurred during marriage) not including cars
    3. No more than $45,000 in community assets (acquired or earned during marriage) not including cars
    4. No more than $45,000 in separate assets (assets acquired before marriage, after separation, and by gift or inheritance, not including cars
    5. No minor children
    6. No ownership of real property
    7. No rent lease 1 year lease or an option to buy
    8. Both you and your spouse agree to never receive spousal support
    9. You both will sign an agreement.

    Your marital status terminates 6 months after the filing of your Petition.     You and your spouse must exchange financial disclosures.  The concern with filing a Summary Dissolution is that if you or your spouse change your mind within the 6 months, you can file a Notice of Revocation to cancel the divorce.

    Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)

    If you do not meet the requirements for filing a Summary Dissolution or decide against it, you can file a regular Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  You will need to decide the best method for you.

    Collaborative

    A collaborative divorce is when you and your spouse have agreed to resolve issues involved in your case such as characterizing and dividing assets and debts, spousal support without going to court. If you have children under 18, you will need to resolve child custody, visitation and child support, as well.  You both hire a separate attorney to guide you through the process and advice you behind the scenes. 

    Mediation

    A mediated divorce is when you and your spouse hire a mediator (trained mediator, attorney who has agreed to act as mediator) to guide you through the divorce together.  A concern about mediation is that if you and your spouse cannot work out a complete settlement, you both will have to hire a separate attorney to complete your divorce or represent yourself in a contested divorce.

    Contested

    A contested divorce is when you and your spouse cannot agree on some or all issues and your case is set for Trial.  You and your spouse will present the contested issues in your case to the court. The court will determine what orders should be made regarding any of the issues you and your spouse could not agree on.

    Requirements for Where to File

    You or your spouse must have lived in California for 6 months and in the county where you want to file for the last 3 months prior to filing your case.

    Dissolution of Marriage

    Once you have determined, what method and where your case must be filed, here is what to expect:

    A Petition and related documents will be prepared and filed, which tells the court your requests and about your situation.  Or if your spouse served you with a Petition, you must respond to it within 30 days of service.  If there is conflict regarding child custody, visitation or any other issue you will need to request temporary orders until your case settles or proceeds to Trial. If you need child support and/or spousal support, you will need to request temporary orders to get the financial support you and your children are entitled to by law.

    You and your spouse must exchange information regarding your assets, debts and income (financial disclosures). These documents are sometimes prepared when preparing your initial documents for filing.  Most times the documents are completed after the initial filing. Family Code requires the Petitioner to serve the disclosure documents 60 days after serving the Petition. 

    You must prepare and serve your financial disclosures with supporting documents including the last 2 filed tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements and any other supporting statements or documents, Kelley Blue Book values. You will need to get formal appraisals for your real property, antique furniture and classic cars and attach the Appraisals, unless you and your spouse agree on the value. 

    If you and your spouse can agree to values listed on Redfin, Zillow or a local realtor’s comparable sales report, you can attach those values.  You must list all assets and debts including community assets and debts and separate assets and debts and your income and expenses. 

    If you do not know your financial situation or believe your spouse may be hiding assets, under reporting income, or any other concern, you will need to determine what discovery is necessary to obtain the documents and information required to show the hidden assets or actual income.  The basic discovery in family law cases are Form Interrogatories and Demand for Production of Documents. 

    Once you have evaluated the information and documents received from your spouse, you can determine if additional Discovery is necessary.  You may need to serve Special Interrogatories, Request for Admissions and/or take your spouse’s deposition.  You may need to subpoena your spouse’s employment records, bank records or other records.

    You will want to join in any pension plans that need to be divided under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and prepare the QDRO (unless you hire a third party to prepare a Joinder and QDRO.

    High Assets and Income

    If you have high/ valued assets and income, including a business, investments, real property and there is no agreement between you and your spouse, you will need to hire a forensic accountant to value your assets and business and determine the cash flow of your business.  You will need to hire a formal appraiser to value classic cars, fine art and other collectibles.

    Sometimes there is a full settlement of issues closer to the beginning of a divorce case and there are times when full settlements comes later, other times certain issues are resolved and the remaining issues will be determined at Trial.  It boils down to you and your spouse and how you work together to resolve issues.

    If your case proceeds to trial, the court will first set your case for a Trial Setting Conference to determine where the parties are in the case, then the court will set a Mandatory Settlement Conference where you will need to prepare a brief and tell the court your contentions.  If you cannot not resolve your case, a Trial date will be set and Trial preparation will begin, which is expensive. You will want to avoid proceeding to Trial unless it is necessary and the benefits outweigh the costs.

    Child Support

    It is both parents’ responsibility to financially support their minor children.  Child Support is calculated based on the mother and father’s income and the percentage of time each the child(ren) spends with each parents.  Computer software is used to calculate the support for you.  You have to input information regarding you and your spouse’s income, timeshare, pre-tax deductions, mortgage payments, real property taxes and other information regarding your case. 

    As additional child support each parent is responsible for providing health care coverage if available at a reasonable cost, 50% of child care to allow parents to work and 50% of unreimbursed medical expenses.

    Child Support order are usually ordered before Judgment as
    temporary orders or after Judgment and post judgment order.  If there are changes in income and timeshare,
    these are reasons to request a modification of the child support order.

    Legal and Physical Custody

    One of the most important decisions you will make is determining who will have legal custody (party who makes decisions regarding health care, religion, education and overall welfare) and physical custody (party who your children lives with) of the children. 

    If you on legal and physical custody of your children, whether you agree to share legal and physical custody with one of you having sole physical custody with shared legal custody or one of you have sole legal and sole physical custody.  If there is no agreement, the court will determine what custody orders are in the best interest of your children.

    Custody disputes often involve child custody evaluations where
    experts are called to investigate and interview you and your children. 

    Visitation or Parenting Time

    Visitation and parenting schedules can be set as reasonable visitation with no specific schedule for parents who work well together. A more detailed schedule with specific dates and times will be needed for parents who do not work well together. This arrangement will lessen confusion and conflict.

    Spousal Support

    Spousal Support is awarded either during the divorce (temporary spousal support) proceeding or at time of Judgment or Trial (Judgment/Trial spousal support).  Temporary Spousal support is usually determined based on computer software). The purpose of Temporary Spousal Support is to maintain a party’s marital standard of living. 

    Spousal Support at time of Judgment or Trial is awarded based on several factor per Family Code 4320 factors, the court must consider all  factors.  Marriages lasting more than 10 years are considered long term marriages and the court maintains jurisdiction over the issue.  Spousal Support for marriages under 10 year is usually order for one-half the length of the marriage.

    Domestic Violence

    If you are being abused you must take actions to stop any abuse against you and your children and other family members. If you stay in that abusive relationship and your children are physically or mentally or emotionally harmed, you could lose custody of your children.

    If you have been wrongfully accused or charged with a crime, you must respond to the allegations. In certain cases a domestic violence restraining order will involve the abuser being criminally charged with assault and domestic battery and other crimes.  If you have been criminally charged, you could lose child custody and visitation.  You may not be awarded spousal support because California Law does not want you to reward an abuser.

    Paternity

    Establishing Custody and Child Support

Jake Brower Criminal Defense Attorney, DUI Lawyer, Felony Arrests, 3-Strike Cases, Criminal Law, Drunk Driving Lawyer, Los Angeles, Orange, Anaheim, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita,Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, Beverly Hills, Hollywood,Oceanside, San Clemente, Carlsbad, Dana Point, Seal Beach, Long Beach, 1043 Civic Center Drive West, #200, Santa Ana CA 92703