Beyond the considerable emotional pain, the end of a marriage is legally complex. Consult an Orange county divorce attorney if your marriage is ending.

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You will need sound professional advise to determine child custody, financial support, and to make a fair division of the property of the marital community. Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to consider counseling from a marriage counselor, social worker, psychotherapist, or clergy person, as an alternative to divorce. Such counselors are trained to help couples resolve differences. The counselor may be able to help you and your spouse learn new communications skills and to gain a better understanding of one another to prevent your marriage from failing. Even if divorce is unavoidable, counseling may keep the relationship with your spouse from worsening.

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Divorce in Orange County, California

In California, other possible alternatives to divorce include legal separation or annulment.

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Whether you chose divorce, legal separation or annulment, your lawyer can advise you about your rights to child custody, child visitation, child support, and property division. Your lawyer can also prepare a legal separation agreement, assure that timely steps are taken to end your marriage, and advise you when unexpected problems arise. Your lawyer can also seek protection if your spouse threatens to assault or harass you, take your children in violation of child custody or child visitation rights, or hide property belonging to the marital community.

Divorce also has important tax consequences. Child custody can affect your taxes, including your right to claim head of the household status, dependent exemptions, child care credit. Child support payments may be taxable or deductible. Property division may also affect your taxes. Your Orange County divorce lawyer can also advise you about the tax aspects.

In California, it is now known as “dissolution of marriage.” Also, California has adopted “no fault” laws that allow a divorce without showing that one spouse was at fault. The grounds for dissolution of marriage are Irreconcilable Differences (Cal Fam Code 2310(a)) and Incurable Insanity (Cal Fam Code 2310(b)). Obviously, most California divorces are granted on the basis of the former. A California divorce action begins with the filing of a Petition by one party (the Petitioner) and service of the Petition, and other documents, on the other party. The other party (the Respondent) has thirty days to file a Response. Failure to respond in a timely manner may lead to a default judgment being entered, giving the Petitioner everything he or she asked for in the Petition. If you have been served with “divorce papers,” seek legal advice immediately.

Divorces may be uncontested or contested. An uncontested divorce can be granted when the parties agree on all issues such as child custody, time-share (also known as child visitation), child support, and property division. It may involve the filing of papers at the courthouse and, perhaps, a brief appearance before a judge or commissioner.

A contested divorce, where the parties cannot agree to terms, resembles a standard lawsuit with a trial before a judge. Typically, the trial will be preceded by one or more Order to Show Cause hearings, during which the judge will make temporary (pendente lite) rulings concerning child custody, timeshare, child support and, perhaps, property division issues.

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Ex-Parte (OSC) hearings are typically used to obtain Temporary Restraining Orders against one of the parties. Again, if you are served with OSC papers or given notice of an Ex-Parte Hearing, seek legal advise immediately.

In California, mediation is part of the dissolution of marriage procedure for all couples who have minor children. The couple must meet with a mediator in an attempt to resolve issues of legal child custody, physical child custody, and time-share. You and your spouse will meet with the mediator to discuss these issues and work out an agreement acceptable to both of you. Lawyers and judges are not present during mediation sessions and formal legal procedures do not apply. If you are unable to resolve these issues through mediation, a judge will decide them.

After the judge grants a divorce you may have to wait a short period before remarrying. In California, the earliest possible date for remarrying is six months plus one day after the date of service of the Petition.

Divorce is emotionally and financially complex. It is important to see a divorce attorney Orange County to protect your rights and your future. Your lawyer may help you to save your marriage by referring you to a marriage counselor. If divorce is unavoidable, your lawyer can help you take the steps to end your marriage and advise you about custody of your children, support, and a fair division of property.
For answers to your questions regarding your divorce or legal separation, Call us today at (714) 538-3730 to schedule your free initial 30 minute in office consultation with Attorney Joseph P. Downs.

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Joseph P. Downs


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