Frequently Asked Questions
What are the grounds for a dissolution of marriage in California?
Although there are several grounds upon which a court can grant a divorce,
the most common ground for a
divorce is "irreconcilable differences". In actuality, a specific reason
need not be listed such that if either party seeks a divorce, the court
will usually grant the request.
Is fault considered?
- California is considered a “no fault” state. What this means
is that the law will not consider the specific reason for the divorce
request. However fault can be considered in cases where one spouse breaches
his or her fiduciary duty to the other spouse. Under California law, spouses
owe each other a duty of the highest good faith and fair dealing in disclosing
all material facts and information relative to the existence and valuation
of all assets, debts, income and expenses. The judicial goal in a divorce
proceeding is to ensure transparency and achieve fairness.
What is decided in a divorce case?
- Several issues are decided in a typical divorce case. These issues include
the marital status, child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal
support, property division, assignment of debt and attorney fees. Any
of these issues can be bifurcated and decided singly by the court. Moreover
the court can make temporary orders on most of these issues pending resolution
of the entire divorce case.
How long does a divorce take to complete?
- The time it takes to complete a divorce is based on many factors but is
primarily based on the parties themselves. It canl take a minimum of six
(6) months for the parties to become legally divorced. However, if either
party contests any issue, it could take much longer.
What if we agree to the divorce and have reached an agreement?
- If you and your spouse are able to agree regarding the various issues at
hand, we can prepare a comprehensive judgment that will be accepotable
to the court. An agreement will help speed up the process and ease the
stress that usually accompanies a contested divorce.
How does a court decide child custody?
The public policy in California is to ensure children frequent and continuing
contact with both parents after their separation or dissolution. The court
is required to consider what type of
child custody orders would be in the “best interests" of the children. Determining
"best interests" hinges upon consideration of the health, safety
and welfare of the children. Courts will sometimes seek assistance in
making this often delicate decison by ordering a child custody evaluation.
Does a child have any say in determining who gets custody?
- California law provides that a court shall consider and give due weight
to the wishes of a child in making a custody order. However, the child
must be of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent
preference. Recent changes in the law, provide for children to have more
of a voice in court. This can either be done by direct child testimony
or through trained professionals guided by what is in the child's
How is child support determined in California?
Child support is determined by application of a mathematical formula. The formula is
essentially comprised of analyzing the income of the parties as well as
the custodial timeshare. There are however other factors involved. Disputes
often arise as to what data is input into the calculation. Computer software
has been developed to assist courts and attorneys in this calculation.
How is spousal support (alimony) determined in California?
The determination of
spousal support is a bit more complicated as there are two types of spousal support. Temporary
spousal support which is ordered during the pendency of the divorce proceeding
is established through the use of computer software. Permanent spousal
support which is ordered at the end of the divorce is calculated based
on the many factors found in Family Code section 4320. Some of these factors
include the marital standard of living, the duration of the marriage,
the age and health of the parties and the ability of one spouse to pay support.
What is community and separate property?
- Generally, all property acquired during marriage is community property.
Conversely, property acquired before marriage, after separation or by
gift or inheritance is separate property. Most problems arise when property
is co-mingled, when property is part community and separate or when changes
in title or ownership are made during the marriage. Other issues involve
reimbursement rights, such as when separate property is used to acquire
community property or when community payments are made to pay down a spouse's
Most importantly, once property is divided, the decision is final. If the
division occurred less than a year ago, certain exceptions may give you
relief in the event of disagreements. Other areas may require special
expertise such as:
- Student loans paid or incurred during the marriage
- Child support paid during the marriage
- Money or property traceable to personal injury settlements
- Changes in title during marriage – joint to separate, separate to joint
- Retirement plan division
- Gifts during the marriage
How Will Our Property Be Divided?
- The court’s goal is to divide community property equally between
spouses. This applies to real property, retirement plans, business interests,
bank accounts, stock accounts and other property that either spouse acquired
during the marriage. On the other hand, separate property, is usually
confirmed to the owner spouse. Division of property can be in-kind, cash-out
or by sale and division of the net proceeds.
Q: Where do I start?
- You start by preparing yourself and becoming informed. Many resources exist
for obtaining information. However there is no substitute for obtaing
expert legal representation. Take advantage of our free consultation and
learn how we can help you through the divorce process. We will analyze
your specific situation and inform you of what steps you need to take
NOW to protect your rights. Choosing the right attorney is a critical
What if I cannot afford an attorney?
- You may think that you cannot afford an attorney. However many people are
surprised at the affordability of choosing our office to represent them.
We offer competitive rates and affordable payment plans. We accept all
major credit cards. In some cases, your spouse can even be orderd to pay
your attorney fees and costs.
Available 24 hours / 7 days a week.
Contact Your Pasadena Family Law and Divorce Attorney Today!