Divorce

Divorce Attorney Orange County

Divorce

If you believe your marriage is ending or you have already begun separation proceedings, a Kaufman Steinberg LLP divorce lawyer can help you navigate the legal process. Our family law attorneys have represented many spouses and partners in divorce and separation proceedings, and we understand this is a stressful and emotional time for you. We will take the time to listen to you, learn about your situation, and understand your needs and goals. 

We give our clients honest advice and fully explain family law as it relates to their situation so they can make informed decisions on how to proceed. A Kaufman Steinberg divorce lawyer will protect your rights and interests during the divorce process—whether your case is resolved through negotiation, mediation, or litigation.

Our family law attorneys have been recognized for their work by leading family and legal publications. You can trust Kaufman Steinberg to represent you during a divorce. We work to distribute assets, secure appropriate alimony, obtain child support, set up custody and visitation, settle paternity disputes, and attain family violence restraining orders. We make it our top priority to provide you with the highest quality legal representation possible.

Understanding the Different Terms For Ending a Marriage

In California family law, there are three different terms used to describe the termination of a marriage: annulment, legal separation, and dissolution. Broadly speaking, the result of each of these terms is the same—the relationship between two partners has ended or is in the process of ending. However, it is important to understand the distinctions between each category to make an informed decision about the best path for you and your family.

Annulment

An annulment means that the marriage never legally began. With few exceptions, neither party is eligible for shared assets, alimony, or other forms of financial support from the other party. Additionally, any children born during the marriage will be considered to have been born to single parents, and you must request that the court establish your child’s or children’s paternity to apply for child support or determine custody and visitation arrangements.  

There are certain conditions you must prove to qualify for an annulment. Conditions for an annulment include fraud, incest, bigamy, forced marriage, mental incapacity, or one of the parties being under the age of 18 at the time of marriage. California family law also imposes a four-year statute of limitations from the date of marriage. Obtaining an annulment can be more complicated than a divorce since you must prove that the marriage was never legally valid. A divorce lawyer can advise whether an annulment is your best option.

Separation

Sometimes, a couple wishes to end their marriage but is unable or unwilling to divorce. This can be due to religious or personal beliefs, residency requirements, or financial reasons. Most states, including California, recognize legal separation under family law.

A legally separated couple is still recognized as married and, therefore, entitled to marital benefits including shared assets, debts, insurance, and benefits. However, the parties in the marriage live separately as though they were single. 

In some cases, a couple’s religious beliefs forbid divorce, but the couple no longer wishes to be married. A legal separation allows them to live separately without violating their religious beliefs. Other couples wish to continue sharing benefits that are only available to married couples or partners, or they may be attempting to resolve their differences, so they choose to separate rather than divorce. Other times, separation is a preliminary step—in California, you cannot apply for a divorce unless one party has lived in the state for at least six months. There is no residency requirement, so many couples file for separation while waiting to divorce.

While separation may seem easier than a divorce, there are limits. Because legally separated couples are still married, neither party may remarry, and you must carefully negotiate the distribution of bills and debts post-separation. Couples who wish to separate while waiting to qualify for a divorce will also have additional paperwork and legal costs. A Kaufman Steinberg family law attorney can help you determine whether a legal separation is in your best interest.

Dissolution

A dissolution, or divorce, acknowledges the existence of the marriage but irrevocably terminates the marriage contract. Unlike a separation, where the couple can request to vacate or reverse the decision, divorce is binding. A couple who wishes to resume their marital status after a divorce must remarry. 

California family law does allow for “no-fault” divorces, so you do not have to provide a reason beyond “irreconcilable difference” to be granted a divorce by the court. You must, however, meet residency requirements and should consider retaining a divorce lawyer to help you navigate California’s family law codes.

Beginning a Divorce Case

If you or your spouse have decided to end your marriage or domestic partnership, you need to think about what you want for the future. Though a divorce is the end of a marriage, it is also the beginning of your new life, with many possibilities ahead of you. Think about your new goals, then talk to us. We will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome for you and your family.

In California, Either Spouse or Partner Can End the Marriage:

  • Even if the other partner is against divorce, they cannot stop the process. Refusing to participate in the case will only result in a default judgment against the uncooperative party, and the divorce will proceed without their participation.
  • As a “no-fault” divorce state, California family law does not require evidence the other party did something wrong. To start the divorce process, all one spouse needs to claim is that there are “irreconcilable differences” causing the breakup of the marriage.

A “no-fault” divorce does not guarantee that a divorce will go smoothly. There are any number of issues that could create disputes and may result in litigation if not resolved, including:

  • Child custody and support
  • Spousal support or alimony
  • Division of assets and debts, including family-owned businesses

“No-Fault Divorce”

The most common way to end a marriage is by filing for a “no-fault” divorce. California family law does not require either party to allege any fault, such as adultery, abuse, or abandonment. Instead, one party typically cites irreconcilable differences. After filing for divorce and serving the petition, however, the parties must wait at least six months before a judgment can terminate their marital status.

Which court will hear your family case? California law requires family law cases to be heard in the Superior Court of the county where either one of the parties has resided for at least three months.

Establishing Child Custody and Child Support 

Normally, the family court system prefers that parents share joint legal and physical custody of children, but a judge will issue a different order if the parents agree or the judge determines it to be in the best interests of the child. A child support payment schedule is normally used, but a judge may adjust the schedule depending on the facts of the situation. 

In family law, one party often wants a child support payment. The family law system was built around a family unit where both parents were present and functioning as equal partners raising their children, but there may be cases where only one parent plays an active role in their children’s day-to-day lives. In these situations, courts will adjust child support amounts consistent with the parties’ respective custodial time with the children.

What Are the Costs and Fees Associated With Getting a Divorce?

Divorce costs can vary depending upon the unique circumstances of each situation, but in general, the divorce process is expensive. Each party must pay a mandated court fee of $435.00. Fees for your family law attorney will be affected by factors, including: 

  • The length of time you have been married
  • Your employment status
  • The value of your physical assets
  • Whether both parties are in agreement regarding child support, alimony, custody, and distribution of assets and debts

Additionally, If you do not file your court paperwork correctly, your costs can increase substantially.

Contact Us Today

At Kaufman Steinberg, our family law attorneys offer a $2500 Flat Fee—plus the court-mandated fees—for couples who are in complete agreement about child custody, the division of assets and debts, and if both parties are W2 employees or unemployed. Some couples can pay a fee as low as $1500—plus court fees—if they meet certain criteria.

Getting a divorce or a separation can be a traumatic, emotional time. With an understanding, compassionate family law attorney by your side aggressively defending your rights and protecting your interests, the process can be manageable for you and your family. Kaufman Steinberg attorneys counsel clients through the divorce process, help them obtain the best possible outcomes, and prepare them for their futures.Kaufman Steinberg divorce lawyers have a thorough understanding of divorce laws and proceedings. Contact Kaufman Steinberg today if you have questions or concerns about divorce law and the legal process or need legal representation in a divorce or separation action. As Orange County family law attorneys, we can discuss your situation, applicable laws, and your best legal options.

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