One of the most important decisions you can make in life is the decision to marry. Perhaps you even married your high school sweetheart. In any circumstance, when a marriage doesn’t work out, it can leave behind feelings of failure and sadness.
Reaching the conclusion to divorce can be difficult. With all the emotional ties to the life you have created with your spouse, focusing on the legal aspects to dissolution of marriage may be the last thing on your mind. The financial aspects of a divorce can impact you for years to come. For this reason, it is recommended that you seek the legal support of an Orange County divorce lawyer.
It may be painful to see the effects of divorce on the children. Fortunately, it might bring some comfort to know that a family law judge will have the best interests of the children in mind when making decisions. Working through the details of child custody and child support can be a smoother process if both parents agree on the final outcome.
There two forms of child custody: legal and physical. Each of these types can be sole or joint. The best scenario is one in which the parents can agree on a parenting plan as it saves time and agony. A judge has the ability to intervene, however, if the parents can’t come up with an agreement.
Child custody mediation can help parents deal with objections from the other spouse and arrive at a mutually agreeable result. The mediator has the power to make recommendations to a judge for a parenting plan.
Child support is calculated according to a mathematical formula, and it must be approved by the court system in California. There are many factors that contribute to the amount of child support, including:
- The amount of time a parent has the child in physical custody
- The disposable income of each parent
- The expenses of each parent
Child support ends when the children turn 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. A judge will take into consideration such factors as taxes, union dues and health premiums when determining the disposable income of each parent.
Emotions can flare at the thought of dividing up marital property. Two categories define all types of property: community and separate. In California, both debts and assets acquired during the marriage are split in a divorce.
Division Of Property
An item defined as separate property, such as an inheritance or a birthday gift, is not divided upon the dissolution of marriage. Debt is typically divided in the marriage; however, there are instances when this is not the case – for example, a student loan. The goal of dividing property is to achieve an equal net worth between the two people involved. The amount of debt involved could help balance out and make the two halves even.
It’s advisable that each spouse make a list of the property items he or she considers separate and community. The assets and debts which are commonly divided include:
- Retirement accounts
- Real estate
- Automobiles, boats and planes
- Collectible items
- Household items
- Bank accounts, stocks, bonds and pensions
- Credit card debt
In the case of a pension plan, special rules apply that do not affect the other types of assets. It’s important to contact a lawyer as to how pensions are divided and in California.. It’s important to know your legal standing to be able to protect your future.
In California, there are only two grounds for divorce – irreconcilable differences and, although more rare, incurable insanity. As alternatives to divorce, you can also get legally separated, file an annulment and mediate to end your marriage.
When you legally separate from someone, you are dividing assets, determining child custody and dealing with many of the same issues a divorce. However, in a legal separation, the marriage is not dissolved and you can’t remarry until you take further legal steps. In a sense, being legally separated can be a trial run to divorce.
Whether the reasons are financial, emotional or religious, a legal separation is a viable option to explore that might be right for your needs.
The court defines a marriage that has been annulled as “void” or “invalid.” Certain grounds for an annulment need to exist, such as:
- The person wanting the annulment was under the age of 18 when he or she married
- One spouse was already legally married or in a registered domestic partnership at the time of the marriage
- A person was forced into marriage
- The people who are married or in a registered domestic partnership are close blood relatives
- One spouse committed fraud when entering into marriage, such as using the other spouse to obtain a green card
Annulments are more uncommon than divorce. It is a requirement that one party reside in Orange County, California, at the start of the filing process. An experienced divorce attorney can inform you on the types of proof you will need and other elements necessary to file an annulment.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
In alternative dispute resolution (ADR) you and your spouse will meet with a neutral third party who can help with the resolution of child custody and property division, among other issues. This process can be far more cost effective and save time when compared to regular adversarial representation. However, ADR only works for couples that volunteer their financial records, are willing to cooperate and can remain calm.
An ADR mediator can help with the following:
- Promote communication that is effective between the two spouses
- Explore more options to resolve differences
- Facilitate solutions that work best for the family involved
One thing that many may not realize is that it’s possible to hire an attorney to help with certain segments of the process. For example, in mediation, it could be invaluable to hire a consulting attorney to help with the negotiations or review the final agreement before it’s signed by a judge.
Why Hire An Orange County Divorce Attorney
During this challenging time, it can be reassuring to have trusted legal information in your corner. Whether there is a family business involved in the equation or you are worried about sorting through child custody matters, an experienced attorney can help you understand what avenues will be right for you and your family. Additionally, a divorce lawyer can assist you before you sign a legally binding contract and check to see if it’s your best interests.
How To Choose A Divorce Lawyer
When looking to hire an attorney, it is typically a wise decision to select one with experience in helping families in Orange County, California, and with a concentration in family law. The lawyer you choose can make a difference in the outcome of your situation. When you have the experience and knowledge of a divorce lawyer, this can help to safeguard your future and allow you to begin living your new life.