Process and Issues


Our firm has extensive experience in divorce and family law advice, litigation and trials.  You can confidentially discuss your family law questions with family law lawyer and divorce attorneys.   As experienced family law attorneys, we know the challenges the parties must confront in the process.

Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage) – Only 2 legal grounds for divorce in CA:

  • Irreconcilable Differences OR
  • Incurable Insanity


Spouse (Petitioner) files a petition for divorce and requests decisions regarding property division, spousal support, child       custody, and other issues.  CA is a “No Fault Divorce” State, so Petitioner does not need to articulate any fault on the part of the other  spouse.  At that point 3 things can occur:

  • Default: Other spouse (Respondent) fails to respond to petition, therefore, cases proceeds without the participation of  Respondent.
  • Uncontested: Once Petitioner spouse files petition, both spouses, by written agreement, agree to settle all the issues on their  own.
  • Contested: Respondent Spouse responds to petition, but the parties are unable to settle issues on their own and must proceed with litigation.


Division of Assets (Community Property vs. Separate Property)

Examples of Specific Assets or Liabilities that will be affected by divorce

  • Family Home
  • Family Business
  • Pensions
  • Insurance Policies
  • Personal Property
  • Allocation of Debts
  • Bank Accounts
  • Credit Card Accounts
  • Personal Injury Awards & Property Settlements
  • Lottery Winnings
  • Hidden Assets: Formal Discovery through Litigation may help you find them.  May be hidden:

-Antiques, artwork, etc.

-Having employer delay bonuses and other money to you (until after your divorce is finalized)

-Retirement Accounts that Spouse has never told you about

-Cash in the form of Traveler’s Checks

-Investment in certificate “bearer” municipal bonds or Series EE Savings Bonds because they are not registered with the IRS.


Separation and Children

Separation (vs. Divorce or Annulment)

  • Trial Separation
  • Living Apart
  • Permanent Separation
  • Legal Separation


Annulment (vs. Divorce or Separation)

Any of the following criteria may allow annulment:

  • Fraud
  • Temporary Insanity
  • Mental Illness
  • Insanity, or
  • Retardation
  • Inability to Consummate Marriage
  • One of the parties is already married (bigamy)
  • Incestuous Marriage
  • Lack of Consent/Duress
  • Lack of Parental Consent for underage marriage
  • Intoxication


Child Custody & Visitation

  • Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
  • Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody
  • Temporary Custody

Criteria for Custody is “Best Interests” of Child, such as:

  • Wishes of the Child (if old enough to be able to express preference)
  • Age and Sex of Child
  • Mental and Physical Health of Parents
  • Support and Opportunity for Interaction with Members of Extended Family of either parent.
  • Interrelationship with Other Members of Household
  • Adjustment to School and Community
  • Excessive Discipline or Emotional Abuse by a Parent
  • Evidence of Drug or Alcohol Use of a Parent
  • Evidence of Sexual Abuse by a Parent

Paternity Suits (rights of unmarried parent)


  • Agency Adoption
  • Rights of Biological Grandparents
  • Surrogate Mothers
  • International Adoptions
  • Equitable Adoption vs. Adoption by Estoppel
  • Open Adoptions vs. Closed Adoption

Child Support

  • Getting Child Support
  • Paying Child Support
  • Unpaid Child Support & Enforcement
  • Changes to Child Support Orders

Spousal Support (Alimony)

  • Temporary & Rehabilitative Support
  • Permanent Support
  • Reimbursement Support
  • Lump-Sum Support (alternative to monthly support payments)

Criteria for Ordering Spousal Support

  • Duration of Marriage
  • Whether Children Live at Home
  • Earning Capacity of Each Spouse
  • Income and Property of Each Spouse
  • Impairments in Earning Capacity
  • Standard of Living During Marriage

Pre-Marriage Planning by Engaged Couples

  • Pre-marital (Pre-Nuptial) Agreements
  • How to Own and Hold Property
  • Actions by Spouse(s) that Cause a Particular Asset to become Separate Property versus Community Property
  • Benefits and Downsides of Pre-Marital Agreements
  • How to Manage Joint Incomes
  • How to Maximize Retirement and Pension Benefits
  • How to Deal with Inheritances
  • Marital Agreements (Agreements made by spouses during marriage)
  • Marital Settlement Agreements



Next Steps…

Post Divorce

  • Change Your Name and Notify Social Security
  •  Administration of changeUpdate Your Will

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