Filing for Divorce in the San Fernando Valley
Work With a Board Certified Family Law Specialist
The prospect of filing for divorce can be upsetting, frightening and sometimes liberating. The wide range of emotions that a person may experience can make this process all the more difficult, particularly when matters such as custody, child support, alimony, visitation, and property division need to be addressed. Even a divorce which starts out amicably may turn into a bitter, drawn out legal battle as you and your spouse seek different outcomes to protect your needs, your children's well-being, and your finances.
If you are considering divorce, consult with an attorney. You and your spouse will need to come to a complete agreement about all terms of your divorce or you will face court proceedings where these matters will be decided by a judge. Most often, it is less time-consuming and expensive to come to an agreement out of the courtroom. A negotiated divorce settlement means that you and your spouse will have more freedom on determining the exact terms of your divorce; however, at times these terms cannot be worked out without court assistance. Through negotiations or litigation in court, your lawyer will need to assert your rights and protect your interests every step of the way.
Regardless of whether you and your spouse are able to come to an amicable agreement, or whether you cannot agree on anything, you can find the support you need at Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law. We are compassionate, hard-hitting lawyers who recognize how to best represent clients. Call (818) 839-2533 to learn more.
Grounds for Divorce in California
California is a "no fault" divorce state, meaning you do not have to have a reason such as adultery or abuse to file. However, you must have grounds to file for divorce.
There are two grounds for divorce:
- Irreconcilable Differences - A situation where the marriage is irreparably broken. You and your spouse will not be able to save the marriage even with numerous attempts to do so.
- Incurable Insanity - An option that is rarely used and refers to a situation where one spouse is insane and remains incurably insane, with medical proof of this.
Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law represents clients throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley who are considering divorce. Our team can help determine whether you qualify to file and can establish the grounds for your divorce.
Residency Requirements in a California Divorce
California has its own set of divorce laws, including the residency requirements which must be met if you want to file for a separation or dissolution of marriage. According to the California Family Code, you must meet residency requirements before you can file.
One spouse will need to prove he or she has been a California resident for at least six months and has lived in the county where the filing takes place for at least three months.
If you are filing for a divorce in the state of California and do not presently meet the residency requirements, you have several options: You can stop your divorce and attempt to reconcile your marriage, or you can choose to establish a residency in California. If you want to do this, then you will need to wait until you have been in the state for six months and resided in the same county for three months. While you will need to wait this length of time to file, you can start on the paperwork prior.
You can also choose another state to file where you and your spouse may meet the residency requirements. All state residency laws are unique, so you may want to explore the different requirements in various states to find one where you can file. If you want more information about navigating through residency requirements or believe that you are a "special case" and need assistance, then contact a San Fernando divorce attorney promptly for more information!
Types of Divorce in CA
If you are seeking a divorce and you and your spouse agree on the majority of the terms of your divorce, you may want to pursue a collaborative divorce. This process allows divorcing parties to negotiate terms of their separation without going to court or threatening to go to court. This approach is considered to be a type of conflict resolution and helps both parties avoid expensive legal fees and the stress of going to trial to litigate your case. The terms and conditions of a collaborative divorce are usually more favorable than those of a judge-determined divorce and most couples will not feel the need to try to make modifications to their divorce decree in the future.
Collaborative divorces vary from mediated divorces and uncontested divorces. In a collaborative divorce, the couple can work with multiple parties to reach a favorable outcome. If there is a therapist or counselor, they can work with the attorney and mediator to establish a positive divorce decree. All professionals that the couple feels necessary to be involved with the divorce can collaborate together to help them reach the best possible resolution. Some couples include accountants, specialists, and divorce coaches to help them reach their favored solution. This team approach will be like an open meeting, where everyone works in conjunction to the other and advices the couple on the best legal course of action to take in terms of division of property and other aspects of their divorce.
Is Collaborative Divorce Right for You?
This approach to divorce may be best for you in your and spouse can agree on the majority of distributions and financial responsibilities of your separation. Multiple studies have shown that these types of divorces are often settled quickly and at a significantly lower cost than a litigated divorce. The amount of stress that is reduced in a collaborative divorce is enough to have many people consider this option when divorcing. It is important to remember that collaborative divorce is not an option for those that are facing domestic abuse, addiction, or those sighting incurable mental illness as grounds for divorce. If you are questioning this option, contact us.
The majority of divorces in California are uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one that is resolved outside of the courtroom, such as through mediation, the collaborative process, or another out-of-court agreement. The final result is no less binding than a contested divorce in court, but the outcome is often more beneficial to all parties involved (both spouses and any children). In an uncontested divorce, spouses will often have more of an opportunity to come to a flexible agreement that works, rather than have to abide by a court-ordered judgment that may not be the most advantageous for everyone involved.
Contested divorces are those that most individuals wish to avoid. When the divorcing couple is not able to make important decisions regarding custody, alimony, or another important matter, a contested divorce is typically in order. Another sign that you may have to pursue a contested divorce is when significant arguments and disagreements occur when discussing topics concerning marital property and the children. One circumstance that calls for a contested divorce is when only one party wants the divorce.
What to Expect During a Contested Divorce
If any aspect of the divorce, or the dissolution itself, is being contested, one of our divorce attorneys can help you achieve the best results possible. Typically, these situations arise from differing circumstances of the individuals' lives that are at odds. It may be helpful to issue a temporary order if you and your spouse are not able to mutually agree on the terms of the divorce. Your attorney can request a temporary order to ease the tension during the interim period prior to the final completion of the divorce.
It is important to know what to expect as you navigate your divorce. You might be asked to provide information in regards your finances, business records, and property titles. At Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law, we can help to prepare you for each stage of the process so you know what to expect. It is important to ensure you choose an attorney that you have confidence in, because this will make a large impact concerning the result of your case. Our firm has experience and skills that can be used on your behalf to protect your rights throughout this case.
The Role of an Attorney in Your Divorce
You may be skeptical about hiring a divorce attorney. There are do-it-yourself divorce programs online and plenty of books on the topic. If you are considering representing yourself at trial, we strongly recommend you reconsider and DIY divorces often result in disaster. The court may take a long time with your case because there is no lawyer to help push the process along. If you make a mistake you may need to move backwards and retrace your steps before you are able to continue with the divorce. If you and your ex-spouse argue over child custody, property division, or alimony, the process will be difficult without an attorney to mediate. The average American does not have an intricate knowledge of local family courts. You should hire an attorney who has devoted his or her time to learning these local laws.
An attorney can also help you by doing the following:
- Working with you and your ex-spouse to negotiate key issues
- Helping you with complicated paperwork
- Presenting your side of the divorce case in court
- Advocating for you in child custody issues
- Presenting the circumstances of the divorce for the judges
- Assisting you in getting a restraining order, if necessary
- Hiring other professionals like social workers for your case
- Presenting any domestic abuse issues before the court
- Helping you to expose a spouse's dishonesty
- Negotiating financial issues for you
What You Should Look for in a Divorce Attorney
You may recognize the necessity of a divorce lawyer, but how do you know what to look for when you are searching for a lawyer? When researching attorneys, it is always helpful to use personal referrals. If your friends or family members used a lawyer that they trust and appreciate, then contact that individual to see what he or she can do for you. On our website, you can read client testimonials from individuals who were overwhelmingly grateful for their experience with this firm. You also need to search for a lawyer who has experience. An attorney or legal aid who is trying their first case should not meddle in something as life-altering as your divorce. Instead, you want a lawyer who knows all the inner workings of this process.
At Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law, we have more than 30 years of legal experience to use in your case. Additionally, we care about you as an individual. Our attorneys are strongly opposed to "legal mills" where every client is given a case number and each divorce is processed through the exact same routine with no personalization. We take a different approach. We want to help you through your divorce using a customized procedure and recognize that you need a caring and compassionate lawyer who can be more than just a legal aid. You need an attorney who act as a trusted friend in a difficult time.
Hire a lawyer that is accessible. If you cannot communicate with your lawyer, or if he or she never responds to your e-mails, phone calls, or meeting requests, this will create a difficult relationship. We pride ourselves on being personally accessible and respond to all calls and e-mails promptly. Our client testimonials can evidence this. Also, look for a lawyer with an agreeable personality. Harsh or unfriendly attorneys will make for a bad divorce experience. Make sure to hire someone likable, caring, and enjoyable to work with.
Ask These Questions at Your Initial Consultation
When you arrive at your first consultation with an attorney, ask these questions. They will help you to get an idea of whether or not the lawyer is right for you:
- How many clients does your firm take on at a time?
- How experienced are you in family law?
- Can you estimate the cost of my divorce?
- How long do you think that my divorce will take?
- How long will it take you to respond to my calls or e-mails?
- How often will we be able to meet?
- What is your preference for communication?
- How will I be charged for these services?
- What kind of resources can you supply me with regarding divorce?
- How do you predict a judge will rule in my case?
- What fees and costs can I expect other than charges for hours of service?
- Can you handle all aspects of a divorce or family law situation?
The Cutter & Lax Difference
We recognize that there are many attorneys in Southern California that you could choose to take on your case. In addition to the characteristics mentioned above, our lawyers will go out of their way to provide you with a comfortable divorce experience. In the past we have visited client's homes and taken the time to set up additional meetings to go over complications in a divorce procedure. We are capable of handling a wide variety of family matters and can help you with your case.