Divorce Attorney in Orange County, CA Can Help Protect Your Rights
The dissolution of a marriage can be one of the most difficult events in a person’s life. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as just going your separate ways. There are often issues involved, such as spousal support, child custody, child support, divvying up marital property, and a variety of other family law issues. It may seem tempting to undertake this endeavor on your own, but a divorce lawyer in Orange County, CA, may be able to help you avoid your case turning into a protracted and costly legal battle.
An experienced divorce attorney knows that reaching a fair settlement is always the primary goal. At the Law Office of Patrick O’Kennedy, that’s exactly what we’ll strive to help you achieve. Our law firm deals with a variety of family law cases, so whether divorce cases are straightforward or more complex, we can help you better understand the best way forward. And since we offer an initial free consultation, you have nothing to lose by learning your rights from experienced divorce lawyers. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
In What Situations Does California Allow Divorce?
Family law in some states makes divorce a difficult endeavor. This isn’t the case in California. While your case may still be complex and challenging, it’s not because the state has created unnecessary hurdles to reduce divorce rates. In fact, Orange County family law attorneys have two very broad categories under which they can file divorce papers for their clients. These include:
- Irreconcilable differences: Just about anything can fall under “irreconcilable differences.” This legal issue simply means that spouses cannot continue their relationship due to differences. These differences can be anything from disagreements over the housing to allegations of abuse.
- Permanent legal incapacity to make decisions: If a spouse is unable to make decisions for themselves—such as in cases of traumatic injuries or psychological disorders—California will grant a divorce. Of course, it’s very likely that the other spouse will have to provide financial support since the incapacitated spouse is unlikely to be able to work.
Family law in other states often considers who is “at fault” for a divorce, and this will typically dictate who gets the “short end of the stick” regarding alimony, property division, and other issues. For instance, a state may decide that an individual who commits adultery should have to pay more. This isn’t the case in California. Property division and financial support are dictated solely by the economic situation of each spouse.
How Do I File for Divorce in California?
Having an Orange County divorce attorney on your side is the easiest way to file for divorce in California. Such a family law matter can be complex even in the simplest of divorces, thanks to financial issues, custodial arrangements, and other factors. When looking at the legal process on paper, however, everything seems fairly straightforward. California doesn’t place many hurdles in the way of spouses who feel they’d be better off without each other. This is why a straightforward case can be simple with a divorce attorney—and why complex cases don’t have to be more difficult than necessary.
The process for filing a divorce in Orange County, CA, includes the following:
- File papers to begin the divorce process. The spouse who doesn’t file can submit a response.
- Share financial information with each other. The spouse filing for divorce must submit financial information, but the responding spouse only needs to when they’re participating in the process.
- Make important decisions such as splitting property, how children will be cared for, alimony, and more. These things can be agreed upon or settled in court.
- Finalize the divorce by submitting paperwork once all issues are decided.
If you’ve been served divorce paperwork, you have 30 days to file a response. Failing to do so means the family law court may make decisions without your input. This is not ideal. Once you’ve been served papers, though, you cannot hide or give away money or property, change the beneficiaries on your insurance policies, transport your shared children out of state, or attempt to get them a new passport.
If you and your spouse agree on important decisions such as alimony and child support, you may not need to go to trial. Otherwise, the court will have to decide. If you choose to not file a response because you have a written agreement in place with your spouse, the court will make decisions based on the information in your agreement. If you don’t have major assets or children, things can go smoothly—but having a divorce attorney handle the proceedings can help prevent any unexpected hurdles.
What if I Have Children During My Divorce?
Family law attorneys will tell you that divorces can get quite complex when children are involved—especially if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement. If a parenting plan is agreed upon by both individuals, the courts will usually allow it to go into effect. Even if you don’t think such an agreement is possible, divorce lawyers may be able to help you and your spouse come up with a plan. This is a smart step since courts will typically not make a custody decision without requiring both parties to meet with a Family Court Services mediator.
All family law decisions regarding child custody and support will be based on the best interests of the child. Legal and physical custody are two separate considerations, and they can be shared or given to a single parent. Visitation orders will also be issued based on what’s best for the children involved. A family law firm will be able to help you better understand these factors, and this will help you better come up with a plan moving forward. Custody is based on a variety of elements:
- Child’s health
- Child’s age
- History of substance abuse or family violence
- Child’s ties to their community, school, and home
- A parent’s ability to care for their children
- Emotional ties between the child and their parents
Such decisions are much more difficult than those involving marital assets. This is why you should consider speaking with an attorney regarding these family matters. They can provide invaluable advice that helps you better prepare to fight for child custody when necessary. They can also help you better understand your rights and how child support will likely be decided. The Law Office of Patrick O’Kennedy is ready to help you figure out these complex issues.
Regardless of whether you’re facing difficulties with child custody or have no children at all, though, getting a free initial consultation with family law attorneys is the best way to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Does California Require Spousal Support Payments?
In cases of divorce or legal separation, California courts may require one individual to make spousal support payments to the other. This is also known as alimony. Divorce law in the state is very clear on the guidelines regarding alimony, but none of these guidelines are set in stone. Divorce attorneys can successfully argue that spousal support payments be modified to account for situational specifics. There are two types of alimony payments that California courts may issue:
- Temporary support: A temporary order of support typically comes as soon as a divorce case is filed. It is meant to ensure both parties are able to sustain their current living standards throughout the case. This often stays in effect until a permanent support order is issued.
- Permanent support: A permanent order of support comes at the conclusion of a divorce and is meant to ensure a lower-earning spouse has sufficient income to maintain their lifestyle and basic needs. It’s determined by 14 separate factors and is typically referred to as a post-divorce judgment.
While permanent support is meant to last longer than a temporary order, it’s not usually meant to actually be permanent. California family law dictates that all parties to a divorce should become self-sufficient within a certain amount of time. For marriages that last less than 10 years, alimony will often last for half as long as the marriage. Thus, alimony payments following a 6-year marriage will usually only be ordered for three years.
If a marriage lasts more than ten years, though, there is no guideline as to how long alimony payments will continue. In fact, they could be indefinite and last as long as the higher-earning spouse is able to pay. This is why such complex family law matters should be handled by an experienced divorce attorney. Legal professionals can argue that your specific circumstances dictate a higher or lower alimony payment. Regardless of whether you’re the higher- or lower-earning spouse, you need a legal professional who will advocate for your best interests.
Do I Need a Family Law Attorney?
Hiring divorce lawyers is not a requirement in California. If you’re going through this process or need a legal separation, though, having a law firm on your side can provide vital assistance. Even if you and your spouse have decided how everything will work out, an experienced legal professional can ensure you file the appropriate paperwork to make everything go smoothly. They can also help you understand if certain agreements are unlikely to be approved by the courts.
Even if both you and your spouse are completely amenable to a simple divorce, an attorney can help the two of you iron everything out, so both your best interests are taken into account. And if a dispute means litigation is necessary, legal guidance can help you through the process. You can certainly file paperwork for the dissolution of your marriage on your own, but this creates the potential for common mistakes. Since you can speak with divorce lawyers free of charge during an initial consultation—at least at the Law Office of Patrick O’Kennedy—there’s no excuse to not get some early legal guidance.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer in Orange County CA Today!
The divorce process can be filled with important emotional and financial decisions that will impact you and your family permanently. Even the most straightforward and uncontested divorce, however, can lead to difficulties for those without legal representation. Understanding your rights and how California law handles divorce cases is paramount to ensuring you get everything you deserve. Hiring a trustworthy and experienced advocate who will listen to your concerns will help in this endeavor.
Patrick O’Kennedy is a divorce lawyer in Orange County, CA, that represents clients in complex, high-asset cases as well as straightforward divorce matters. Our clients can rely on our commitment to providing professional legal representation regardless of how challenging your case may be. With over 20 years of family law experience, attorney Patrick O’Kennedy has the knowledge and determination to help your case go as smoothly as possible. Contact us today by calling (714) 919-1855 for a free consultation with a family law attorney that always stands up for his clients.