Divorce Lawyer in Irvine, CA Helping Clients Through the Emotional and Complex Divorce Process
Divorce can be one of the most difficult, saddening, and traumatizing events that we ever go through, either as adults parting from our partner or as children watching our parents split up. However, divorce can also be a liberating act, one which revives an individual’s personal agency and gives them a new lease on life.
Sometimes divorces happen because two people cannot coexist in the same space anymore or maybe there was an act that simply cannot be forgiven by one spouse. Other times, a divorce is the result of two people who love each other very much but have slowly come to terms with the fact that they do not make for good life partners. And still, in some cases, one person may file for divorce because their partner is physically or emotionally abusive, and they are finally taking the necessary steps to safeguard themselves and their children.
Whatever the case may be, at least one person in the marriage believes that they would be better off ending their domestic partnership. This wish must be respected. While one would hope that the couple may seek marriage counseling before making any life-altering legal decisions, sometimes it comes down to paperwork and the agreement to end the marriage.
There is no single unifying reason that someone may seek a divorce. Whether you want to end your domestic partnership and file restraining orders against your ex-spouse for domestic violence or if you are simply ready to pursue true love and happiness elsewhere instead of settling, you are valid.
While we may wish to think of marriages as matters of the heart, they are also, unavoidably, matters of the law as well. As marriage is a legal union between two consenting parties, the dissolving of that union is also a legal issue. And though some divorces can proceed without much need for attorneys, it is nonetheless highly recommended that both parties hire their own lawyers for a contested divorce or hire a mediator with necessary legal experience for an uncontested divorce.
The Law Office of Patrick O’Kennedy has been practicing family law in and around Orange County, California for over two decades. The attorney and his legal team are well-versed in the matters of divorce and family law, providing clients with compassionate and helpful legal services during this time of extreme emotional challenge.
If you have questions or concerns about a pending divorce or are merely looking to research your legal options, please contact the law firm of Patrick O’Kennedy to schedule a free consultation.
What Are the Different Types of Divorce in the State of California?
Divorce may seem like a one-size-fits-all type of legal phrase but it’s not. There are many different types of divorces and some of the particulars of how each work may change from state to state.
Types of divorce available in Orange County, California, include:
Collaborative divorces: A type of uncontested, no-fault divorce, the ‘collaborative’ option allows both former spouses to hire their own lawyers and work things out as they plan to legally end their domestic union. At the start of proceedings, both parties sign an agreement to participate in negotiations in good faith. This legal option is, therefore, most well-suited to divorcing individuals who are on good terms and can speak to each other in a respectful manner. If negotiations break down or either party decides to proceed with litigation, the process is terminated and new legal representatives will need to be hired for whatever follows.
Contested divorces: Not all divorce proceedings go smoothly, as one or both ex-spouses may become adversarial and fight every step of the way. Things can get ugly very fast, as this is not just a legal issue between two people, but it is an issue between two people who know each other very well, have been vulnerable with one another, and know how to hurt the other person if they so choose. If you are involved in a contested divorce, it is absolutely vital that you hire an attorney with legal experience handling such cases.
Limited divorces: Similar to a legal separation, the limited divorce allows the divorcing individuals time to arrange marital property division, child custody, and other important matters before signing the necessary paperwork to make the divorce final. While each person’s marital status remains largely unchanged during this time, they are not permitted to live with each other. They are also not allowed to engage in sexual activity with each other or with other outside parties. The hope is that they can still work as partners to resolve certain matters during this separation before the legal process of divorce officially begins.
Mediated divorces: Mediation is a popular option for two divorcing individuals who want to work together to make things right for their former spouse as they part ways. An attorney will take the role of the mediator, a neutral third party, and assist the ex-partners in making the important legal choices as they proceed with the divorce.
No-fault divorces: California state law allows for a ‘no-fault’ divorce. Whereas other states may require that a clear reason be stated by the spouse filing for divorce — such as infidelity, domestic violence, or cruelty — and then potentially prove that accusation, California does not require that such reasons of fault be stated. In Orange County and California more broadly, all that is required is for one spouse to state that there are irreconcilable differences and that they wish to proceed with a divorce.
Same-sex divorces: California laws recognize same-sex marriages the same way as any other marriages. Divorces between LGBTQIA+ individuals have no special requirements that must be taken into consideration. However, same-sex domestic partnerships may also need to be dissolved in order to make the separation legal.
Simplified divorces: Also known as a summary dissolution, simplified divorce is an option available for short-term marriages in California. Both parties must file the n0-fault divorce paperwork and meet certain criteria for a summary dissolution to proceed. For example, both must be California residents, the marriage must be less than five years old, there must be no children as a result of the union (either biological or adopted), and certain considerations must be made for any property or debts that are co-owned. While a judge requires that each party represent themselves in court, it is nonetheless wise to consult with an attorney prior to the hearing to ensure that you understand everything that is about to unfold.
Uncontested divorces: If both parties agree on all things regarding their divorce — including the understanding that they cannot, unfortunately, continue to live together as partners — then they may proceed with an uncontested divorce. Issues that would normally be fought over in other divorces such as spousal support, child support, division of assets, and custody, are agreed upon relatively easily by both parties in uncontested divorces. This is usually the fastest-moving type of divorce proceeding. However, regardless, it is still nonetheless recommended that each partner hire their own family law attorney.
What is the Difference Between Divorces, Dissolutions, Annulments, and Legal Separations?
Those who have not sought a separation from their partner may not understand the core differences between a divorce, marriage dissolution, annulment, and legal separation. If you are confused, please speak to lawyers with knowledge of family law in your city and state.
There are many forms of divorce but, at their core, they are the legal act of ending a marriage so that both ex-spouses may pursue other opportunities in life without the legal or romantic implications of their past partnership.
A legal separation is similar to divorce in many ways, however, both parties maintain their legally recognized marriage status and remain registered as the other’s spouse. A legal separation may eventually lead to divorce or it may give the partners time to figure out what was broken so that they can reunite on better terms later on.
Dissolutions of domestic partnerships refer to individuals who have lived together as intimate and caring partners without ever officially exchanging vows of marriage. Previously, domestic partnerships were the only way for LGBT couples to share their lives together. As such, domestic partnerships are not legally recognized for ‘opposite-sex’ couples unless both parties are over the age of 62.
Annulments are a way to terminate the marriage under specific grounds, which must be proven to the court.
Is it Possible to Seek Annulments in California?
A nullity case refers to annulments. This termination of marriage requires that the one requesting the annulment prove to the court that at least one disqualifying criterion has been met.
To qualify for annulments, one must prove to the judge…
Instances where force and threats were used to secure the domestic partnership.
Prior marriage has not been legally ended or resolved.
Underage and unable to legally marry.
Unsound mental capacity to marry another individual.
For more information, please contact the Law Office of Patrick O’Kennedy to speak to the attorney.
Does California Recognize ‘Common Law’ Marriages?
A common law marriage usually refers to a couple that has lived together for so long that they consider themselves to be married even though they never officially ‘tied the knot.’ Some states recognize common law marriages, provided the couple has been together for a certain length of time.
California normally does not recognize common law marriage, although…
The state of California will recognize a common law marriage if the terms of that union were lawfully established in another state or territory.
What is the Typical Step-By-Step Process in Divorce Cases?
The first step is to come to a clear conclusion that divorce is indeed the resolution you are after. While it may be possible to stop the gears turning once they’ve been started in a legal sense, psychologically it can be exceedingly difficult to come back the decision to file divorce papers. Once you feel confident in your decision, you should speak with family law attorneys who can help you with your case.
You should speak with your partner about your intentions to file for divorce. If this blindsides them, things can get ugly.
Also speak with your children and any relevant family members, such as your parents or siblings, if they remain close.
Next, you may file the necessary papers to begin your divorce case. However, there are a few extra steps that, while not expressly necessary, can provide you with extra peace of mind.
Consider changing internet passwords to accounts that you do not want your partner to access. Even if you are confident that they do not know the current password, it may be worth it to make these changes. Then make sure to make copies of shared documents (insurance papers, mortgage documents, bank statements, etc.) and secure any personal documents (birth certificate, Social Security card, etc.). Then, take note of household items, whether they are yours or shared between you (consider taking photographs or videos of your assets), and make a note of your bank account and financial credit.
To file for divorce in Orange County, you and your spouse must both be California residents. The individual who files is the petitioner, their partner is the respondent.
The papers relevant to divorce in California include the petition, summons, response, declaration of disclosure, separation agreement, an Orange County divorce decree from a family court judge, a property declaration, and more. If you have children who are minors, additional documents will likely be required, such as court orders for child support.
Next, serve the divorce papers by giving them to your spouse. They will be given time to make a response.
Temporary orders may be requested from the court for spousal support, child custody, etc. These requests can be made by either the petitioner or the respondent.
Finances must be disclosed for the purpose of discovery. Then matters will enter legal negotiations for settlements.
If necessary, the case may go to trial, where a judge will decide the fate of the divorce. It is recommended for the divorcing couple to reach a settlement on their own, or else risk having important decisions made for them and their children.
What Other Practice Areas of Family Law Can Divorce Lawyers Help You With?
In addition to helping you file for divorce, the Law Office of Patrick O’Kennedy can also assist you with other matters related to family law.
Contact the attorney if you need legal advice for situations involving:
A heated custody battle.
Determining legal parenthood with paternity tests.
Establishing incapacity and other factors for a nullity case.
Filing restraining orders against a violent ex-spouse.
Immigration law concerns relating to a divorce.
Marital property and asset division after a divorce.
Schedule your initial meeting with attorney Patrick O’Kennedy today by calling the law office for a free case evaluation.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Orange County Divorce Attorney
Divorce is a difficult and sometimes lengthy process, both legally and emotionally. You do not need to navigate those waters alone. There are legal professionals who can provide useful knowledge and experience to help you through this challenging time in your life.
Whether you are concerned about asset division, child custody, alimony, or are merely looking to start a legal separation before going all the way with a divorce, an experienced family law attorney can be a useful guide.
Attorney Patrick O’Kennedy serves Orange County, CA, and has offices in both Irvine and Orange. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at (714) 919-1855.