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Frequently asked divorce questions


What are the legal stages of a divorce?

There are three main areas in a divorce proceeding in Orange County. The first stage is the filing of the petition and the response. The second stage is the discovery phase. The third is the trial and judgment. These areas often overlap.

What does no-fault divorce mean in California?

No fault means that the court will not consider either party's bad acts which may have contributed to the divorce. For example, if one party had an affair, the court will not consider the affair in awarding spousal support or dividing assets.


In Orange County, when is the date of separation?

The date of separation occurs when one party decides to get a divorce or a legal separation and acts as if he or she is moving forward with the divorce or legal separation. Acts include separating bank accounts, moving out of the family residence, informing others that it will occur, etc.

What is an uncontested divorce in California?

A true uncontested divorce in California is when the Respondent does not respond to the divorce papers after he or she is properly served. However, another form of uncontested divorce is when the parties have reached a settlement and the court enters a judgment based upon the settlement.

What are irreconcilable differences?

Irreconcilable differences occur when one spouse believes that the parties' differences are so severe that they cannot be overcome to save the marriage. The court will grant a divorce by one spouse's declaration under oath that the parties' differences cannot be reconciled and that no amount of counseling will help the spouses restore their marriage. Even if the other spouse disagrees and believes that the marriage can be saved, the court will grant the divorce. This requirement renders California a no-fault divorce state.


Can I represent myself in a divorce?

Divorce litigation is complex. A divorce case is like the English language. Both have rules, exceptions to the rules, and exceptions to the exceptions. A writer not only needs to know how to spell, but also needs to know sentence structure, genres, language, and the audience. An attorney needs to understand laws, procedures, rights, and evidence rules. A working knowledge of the judge's preferences also helps. Litigators spend hours researching issues, gathering evidence, and developing arguments. All the arguments require thought, information, and discussion from the parties and their attorneys.

How can I get a divorce quickly?

It takes six months and a day to finalize a divorce. However, if the parties agree on the terms of the divorce, the attorney completes the paperwork and the judge signs the order. The divorce will occur on the first day of eligibility, but the division of assets will be finalized on the date of the judgment.

Are there any non-physical costs to a divorce?

There are many non-financial costs associated with divorce litigation. Emotions are very high throughout the case. There is also a physical toll--many documents have to be retrieved and reviewed, hearings must be attended, and negotiations must be analyzed.


What is the significance of the date of separation?

The date of separation is important because that is when the courts determine when the community estate ends. It is usually more important as it relates to debts. Any charges made after the date of separation are the separate debts of either party.

What if I do not have enough money to pay the filing fee?

If the party is below the poverty line the person can file for a fee waiver with the court. If the court waives the fee, then no fees will be paid. This waiver lasts one year. Sometimes if the party is above the poverty line, the court will accept payments for the filing fee.

What can I do to alleviate some of the pressures of a divorce?

Divorce litigation is frustrating and can be a long, drawn-out process. It is important during this time that you find someone that will listen to you--preferably a counselor so that the therapist-patient privilege applies. You could also talk to a trusted friend. But keep in mind that a trusted friend can be asked to testify in court about your conversations. In addition, it is important to take care of yourself with proper sleep, exercise, and diet.


What other financial costs are associated with a divorce?

Most people will have to pay the filing fee for the divorce. In addition to the filing fee, if an expert is required in the divorce, the expert charges for his or her time on an hourly bases. Experts can include therapists for custody, home or business valuation experts. or vocational examiners.

Should I hire a mediator to settle my family law case?

Mediators are a great resource for helping to settle a divorce. However, mediators work when both parties are willing to work together for a solution. When one party will not comply with discovery, negotiations, or meetings, a mediation will just be another expense in the divorce process.


I just moved to California, can I file for divorce?

A person must live in the state of California for at least six months before a divorce can be filed. However, a legal separation can be filed immediately and later amended to a divorce in Orange County.

Who pays for community debt in a divorce?

Community debt is any debt acquired during the marriage and is equally divided between the parties. It is rare that one party is required to pay all of the debt. In most circumstances, the debt will be divided equally.

How is out property divided in an Orange County divorce?

Property acquired during the marriage is community property. Community property is divided equally. If one party keeps a particular piece of property, the other side must be reimbursed for his or her half of the equity in the community property.


What are the benefits of settling a case?

With a settlement, the parties choose the outcome. In most divorces, one party values something more than the other party. If the family home is important to one and preserving a retirement account is important to the other, then the parties can agree on how to divide them. If the parties disagree and litigate the issues, then the judge decides. A judge will equally divide the value of the assets and distribute them to the parties. Both parties would have kept what they valued if they would have settled the case.

If my spouse does not live in California, can I get a divorce in California?

You can still file for a divorce in California, but the court may not have the authority or jurisdiction to make any orders in respect to property, support, or debts unless your spouse has significant ties to California.

What information becomes public in a Divorce?

Any document filed in court becomes public information unless a court orders the document sealed. All testimony is also public information; however, it requires a fee to be transcribed so it is more difficult to obtain.

What if I do not know where my spouse lives?

If you do not know the whereabouts of your spouse, the court can order service by publication in an appropriate circumstance.


Will I have to speak in front of a judge in Orange County?

The more contested your case is, the more likely that you will have to testify in front a judge. A case can be settled at any time, but the longer that it goes unsettled, the more likely that you will have to provide testimony in court.

How can I settle my divorce case?

The important thing to remember while settling a divorce is that you cannot force the other side to settle. In a good negotiation, both sides are working together for a resolution.

Can My Spouse Keep The Wedding Ring?

The wedding ring is not considered a gift during marriage. It is given before marriage and becomes the spouse's ring once the marriage is complete. If an engagement is broken off and the parties cannot agree as to who keeps the ring, a court will decide based upon which party broke off the engagement.


I gave my spouse a car during the marriage, is that community property?

Gifts given during the marriage are the usually awarded to the spouse who received the gift unless the gift was substantially more than the parties' station in life.



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