Common Questions: Family Law and Divorce

Here are some of the inquiries received by our attorneys in Los Angeles County. When you have any question regarding a family-related matter and how your decisions may affect your future, a Distinguished Legal Group divorce attorney board certified in family law is ready with an immediate answer to your query.

What are the grounds for divorce or legal separation in California? You can file for a divorce or legal separation in California based on either of two grounds or reasons:

  • Irreconcilable differences, which have caused a permanent breakdown of the marriage, or
  • Incurable insanity based on competent medical testimony.

Almost all divorces and legal separations are brought on grounds of irreconcilable differences.

What is the difference between a divorce and a legal separation in California? The main difference between divorce and legal separation is divorce is final whereas legal separation is not. Several other significant differences of a legal separation are:

  • Spouses must agree to a legal separation,
  • There is no waiting period,
  • There is no 6 months residency requirement, and
  • The spouses are still legally married and may not remarry.

Legal separation can be used when it is contrary to the spouses’ religious beliefs to divorce and neither plans to remarry. It may be used when a spouse’s Social Security benefits are at issue or to retain tax or military benefits or when a spouse has medical issues barring the purchase of private medical insurance.

What is family law? The statutes, court decisions, and provisions of the federal and state constitutions that relate to family relationships, rights, duties, and finances all constitute family law. It is the area of law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.

It deals with different issues arising out of marriage such as adoption, paternity, and domestic violence. Upon termination of the relationship, family law mandates grounds for divorce, annulment, legal separation, property division, spousal support/alimony, parental responsibility, child custody and visitation and child support. It is important to know your rights and the rights of children in your care. For an attorney who is committed to seeking the best outcome for your situation, it is best to seek the advice of a board certified family law specialist from our firm.

What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in California? You or your spouse must have lived in California for at least six months to file for divorce and one of you must have lived in the county in which the divorce will be filed for at least three months prior to the date of filing divorce papers.

What are the steps for filing for divorce? The basic steps for filing for divorce in California are:

  • First, you must have lived in the state for 6 months and the county in which you file for 3 months prior to filing for divorce.
  • Second, you must have one of the legally acceptable reasons for filing. Most commonly, couples claim irreconcilable differences as grounds for divorce.
  • Third, you must file divorce papers with the court in the county in which you reside and provide a copy to your spouse.
  • Fourth, your spouse may disagree with the papers you file, in which case he or she will file papers contesting the divorce and a series of court appearances follow to sort out the issues. In the case your spouse does not disagree, he or she should sign the document and send it back to you or the court. If there is no response by your spouse, you may be able to file an uncontested divorce.
  • Finally, if there is property to be divided, or if you need to seek child support and/or spousal support, these issues must be handled in mediation or through a series of court hearings before your divorce becomes final.

When you need high-quality legal representation to pursue your goals and objectives and to protect your rights, it is important to seek the advice of our Montebello divorce attorney.

Is it possible to avoid fighting a divorce battle in court? It is usually in your best interests and for children of the marriage to negotiate an agreement before going into court whenever possible. This can save you the potentially high costs associated with litigation, as well as keeping the details of your divorce confidential. It is always advisable to resolve matters through mediation, but when litigation is necessary our legal team is fully qualified to present your case with full confidence to pursue the outcome you deserve and to protect you and your rights throughout the trial process. We are very familiar with the family court system and how to best work for your interests.

What is custody? It is a determination by the court, mandating which parent has physical custody or where the child will live, and which parent has legal custody or makes the major decisions about where the child goes to school, their health care and the matters regarding their religious training, if any. In California there is no preference for joint custody as there is in many states, however, joint legal and physical custody may be awarded by the court. Sole custody may also be ordered where only one parent has the right and responsibility to make the decisions concerning the child and only one parent is responsible for the physical care and supervision of the child. Even when one parent has sole custody, the non-custodial parent will usually receive visitation privileges.

What if I need to change a custody order already in place? These orders can be modified, and it is recognized by the court that the needs of the child and family will change as a child grows older. If you have a final child custody order already in place, you can petition the judge to make a change to it, but there must have been a substantial or significant change in your circumstances since the order was originally issued. A change will only be made when it is in the best interests of the child. Substantial changes in circumstances sufficient to warrant a change in custody include a geographic move, a change in lifestyle such as changing working hours from day to night, or there is domestic violence in the household. When both parents agree, sole custody can be changed to joint custody on petition of the court.

What if I’m not receiving my court-ordered child support or spousal support? Lawmakers have made it possible to enforce the payment of overdue support, such as spousal support/alimony. Our firm can assist you in pressing your ex-spouse or partner to pay what has been mandated by the court. Consulting a Distiguished Legal Group divorce attorney at your earliest convenience will preserve your rights and those of children in your care.

How do I change a support agreement? You must go back to court to get a current order of the court modified. This is done by providing documentation that the child’s needs have changed, such as when he or she needs additional medical care or funds for school. If you have experienced a change in employment or even loss of employment, you must seek a legal order of the court for modifications to child support. Simply not paying will result in legal repercussions. In the case of any substantial change in circumstances, it is in your best interests to contact a Montebello divorce attorney to assist with a valid and binding support agreement modification.

What are the benefits of pre and post-nuptial agreements? Many affianced couples have prenuptial agreements, especially those who have substantial assets of their own. These are no longer considered unusual and just make sense to protect your choices with regard to your property. Post-nuptial agreements are also not uncommon when spouses want agreements in writing, regarding the special or exact disposition of property or income. There are no fill-in-the-blank forms for these pre and post nuptial agreements as they are based on individual choice and circumstances. Our firm has the experience you will need to help create a legal and binding document that will stand up to any future challenge.

In this Difficult Time We Will Fight for You!

A knowledgeable, caring Los Angeles divorce attorney can offer immediate answers and action to assist you through the difficult process and related family-related issues associated with dissolving your marriage and divorce. You want a brighter future for yourself and your family. With the guidance of family law specialists from our firm, you can rest assured that all aspects of your situation will be taken into consideration for the right solution based on your particular circumstances.

Contact a Distiguished Legal Group divorce attorney from our firm to answer your questions about the specific circumstances of your family law or divorce matter.

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