When you’ve made the decision to divorce, your first step should be to arrange for a consultation with an experienced divorce attorney. The attorney will explain the following:
- Your legal rights
- What is reasonable
- The divorce process
Legal Rights: California has rules already in place with regard to issues such as spousal support, division of property, division of debt, as well as child custody, visitation and support. It’s very important to understand the law as it applies to these issues. As an example, spousal support may be awarded in a marriage of any length but when a marriage is over 10 years, support may last until remarriage or death. Be advised that spousal support is based on a variety of issues such as need and differential in income so it is not a given. Another example of the law that is already in place is the ‘community property’ law. It can be complicated to assess what part of property is community especially when only one party’s name is on the deed and/or when property is purchased before the marriage. An experienced divorce attorney can explain your rights with regard to community interest in real estate or other assets. Lastly, child support is calculated with the help of a software program called a ‘dissomaster’. The factors that are included in the calculation are the income of both parents, percentage of time spent with the child as well as other factors. The law is not intuitive so it’s best to speak to an attorney to determine your rights.
What is reasonable: A consultation with the divorce lawyer should address the question as to what is reasonable. Factors such as income earned, assets (as well as debt) accumulated during the marriage, as well as child custody/visitation schedules will all help to predict what is reasonable and what is not. Once the attorney explains what is reasonable, the client can discuss with his/her spouse and come up with an agreement on the issues. If an agreement cannot be made the judge will have to decide in a hearing and/ or a trial.
The divorce process: Once decisions have been made with regard to reasonable options, the divorce process can begin with the filing and serving of the initial documents. Once served, the respondent has 30 days to respond. When there are issues and the parties have already agreed on them, the respondent can also be given the agreement (Marital Settlement Agreement) which needs to be signed and notarized. In uncontested divorces, the respondent often does not need to respond as this type of divorce can be finalized by default.
For a thorough and professional opinion of your divorce case, call the experienced FLAT FEE attorneys at Legal Action Workshop @ 1-800-HELP-444. We’re here to help!