Orange County Divorce Lawyer

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Orange County Divorce Lawyer

Orange County Divorce Attorney

Like any major life event, a divorce can significantly affect your personal and professional life. Navigating California’s complex family law system can seem daunting. Having an experienced Orange County divorce lawyer and law firm to help you along the way can add a level of certainty to a seemingly uncertain situation.

The team at Moranda Law Firm, APC, has many years of experience representing Orange County clients in a range of divorce cases. Every divorce is unique, and we always take a meticulous and cost-effective approach to our cases.

Orange County Divorce Lawyer

What Can a Family Law Attorney Do for Me?

There are few, if any, times in life when there is more at stake than when going through a divorce. How your estate and assets will be divided and how child custody will be determined are just a few of the major decisions that will be made in court. Once your divorce is finalized, making any further changes to the divorce decree will likely be cost-prohibitive.

Representing yourself in court can be risky. California’s family court laws are lengthy and not written in a way that would be easily understood by a non-lawyer. Even when your case seems straightforward, you may not be aware of the implications of a particular course of action. Divorces are also very emotional affairs, and emotions can often cloud judgment. This is one reason why even attorneys hire other lawyers to handle personal cases.

Divorces are often emotionally draining and tiring for the spouses involved. Having experienced legal counsel can provide a semblance of stability and certainty during those difficult periods. As the case moves forward, you can rely on your attorney to help you understand the possible outcomes of your case. If protecting child custody and visitation rights is your priority, your family law attorney in Orange County can align their legal strategy to meet your goals.

Complex Divorce Cases

You may have heard of simple and complex divorce cases. These are not strict legal terms but general terms used to describe the complexity of your case. Factors that can make a divorce case complex include:

  • The need to address child custody and visitation
  • Large estates that include high assets and multiple properties
  • High conflict relationship between spouses
  • High net-worth spouses
  • Long-term marriages, i.e., multiple decades

Few divorces are truly simple, but cases require minimal work on the part of the attorneys who can resolve them more quickly and without the need for much if any, litigation. Cases that are considered simple are often situations where the spouses are both prepared to finalize the divorce and are in little disagreement on the terms of the divorce.

More couples are entering marriage with prenuptial agreements that lay out the terms of how assets and other important matters will be divided if the couple later divorces. Legally binding agreements can greatly reduce or eliminate the need for a lengthy court process.

Whether a divorce qualifies is simple or complex, working with an experienced family law firm can help you protect your rights and interests throughout the divorce.

Divorce Litigation

Some divorces can be settled without the need of going to court while other divorce cases require minimal involvement of the courts. When both parties cannot agree on how to split assets, divide parenting time, and other important matters, the only way to finalize the divorce is through litigation.

Litigation refers to the use of court filings, hearings, and other uses of the court to resolve disagreements between parties. Although litigation generally prolongs the divorce process, the systematic process can provide for a fair and equitable resolution to longstanding disagreements. Ultimately, a judge may decide what a fair resolution to the divorce looks like.

During a hearing or trial, an Orange County judge will listen to legal arguments by both parties. Your attorney will present evidence to the court to support your goals. After hearing testimony and reviewing evidence, the judge will make a ruling that sets out the terms of the divorce.

Having an experienced lawyer who knows their way around a courtroom can improve your chances of a favorable settlement of your divorce. Understanding litigation requires knowledge of voluminous laws, rules, and procedures like the:

  • Evidence Code
  • Family Code
  • Code of Civil Procedure
  • California Rules of Court
  • Local Rules

Failure to meet deadlines and evidentiary requirements could prove to be a costly mistake for your case. Your family law attorney will rely on experience, training, and knowledge to litigate your case in accordance with established rules and laws.

Determining Child Custody

Custodial determinations are made based on the best interests of the children. If both parents cannot agree to a visitation schedule, the courts may consider a wide range of factors when deciding which parent sees their child when. These factors could include:

  • The child’s health
  • The child’s safety
  • The criminal history of either parent
  • Financial Considerations
  • The age of the child
  • The location of both parents’ homes

Matters related to child custody are usually determined during the divorce process. These important issues must be resolved before a divorce can be finalized. Parents have the right to meaningful time with their biological or adopted children. The courts are supposed to protect those rights, but having an experienced family law attorney during the divorce process can go a long way toward making sure that your parental rights are protected.

Child Visitation

Child visitation agreements can take several forms. One parent may become the sole physical custodian of their children, and the other parent would have visitation rights unless the other parent posed a significant danger to their child.

When parents are given joint custody, that doesn’t always mean that the children spend equal time with both parents. The courts may determine that it is in the best interest of a child to have a primary residence with one parent and regular visits with the other parent. In other cases, the courts may award 50-50 shared custody that divides visitations equally or close to equally between the parents.

Visitation agreements are often unique to individual cases. Your attorney can take time to ensure that the language in your visitation order meets your goals before you sign onto anything. Properly drafted orders can reduce the chance of re-litigation once the case is finalized. A clear visitation agreement can also help you protect your visitation rights if the other parent tries to obstruct future visits.

Complex Child Custody Cases

When custody battles become heated disputes, having an experienced family law attorney can become crucial. When one parent has a history of child abuse, domestic violence, or another pattern of behavior that makes them a danger to their children, the courts will consider the safety of their child or children when making custody and visitation determinations.

Complex cases can require extra weeks or months of litigation to resolve if the other parent fights attempts to limit their visitations. Expert witnesses may need to be brought in to provide insight into how much danger one parent may pose to their children.

Situations where one parent has moved far away can also create complex issues that the court must resolve before the divorce can be finalized. No matter what factors make a case more complicated, your lawyer will provide guidance and legal counsel so you can make the right decision for you and your children.

Post-Divorce Modifications

Even when your divorce is finalized, that does not mean the end of your involvement in family court. Certain parts of your divorce decree agreement may be modified. These often involve issues related to custody and visitation of children or spousal support.

Changing life situations may necessitate changing visitation schedules, for example, if one parent moves farther away. As children grow, parenting schedules may need to change, too. Changes in income could also mean that both parents need to revisit child support orders.

In other cases, one parent’s negligence or misconduct may motivate the other parent to protect their children. Family court judges can require parents to take certain steps, such as passing drug tests or participating in drug rehabilitation, as a condition of regaining visitation rights.

During the divorce process, which can take months or even years, the court will issue temporary orders that provide visitation rights to both parents while the divorce plays out. Once the case is finalized, the court will likely set a higher standard when determining whether a parent can seek modification of a final divorce decree. This means that the parent will have to show a “significant change” in circumstances.

Examples of significant changes could include:

  • One parent moving out of the state
  • One parent is convicted of a serious crime
  • One parent failing to exercise their visitation rights

This is one reason why every parent should take the terms of a final order seriously. There may be situations where one parent is unable to return for modifications because they cannot prove a substantial change of circumstances has occurred. An experienced family law attorney will understand the nuances of these laws and practices.

Child Custody Evaluations

Your divorce may involve child custody evaluations. Either party can request that the other parent be evaluated. These are more typically found in high-conflict cases where one or both parties are seeking to reduce the other parent’s visitation rights. In other cases, a judge may order an evaluation for both parents. Child custody investigations are conducted by a mental health professional. The court-appointed evaluator works as a court expert.

The investigation usually involves a lengthy interview of one or both parents and possibly of the children. After gathering further information from other sources, the court investigator will issue a report that includes recommendations for custody orders. Judges often rely on the recommendations of court experts, but they do not have to accept their findings. Whether the court expert’s findings support your case or not, having an experienced family law attorney can help you make the most of the findings of the final report.

Fathers’ Rights

The family courts have made great strides in acknowledging the important role fathers play in their children’s lives, but many dads still face an uphill battle when it comes to seeking equal parenting time with their kids.

If a father is seeking rights for children and he was never married to the mother, the courts will require that paternity be established. This is often required in cases where the father was not allowed to sign the birth certificate. The battle for fathers’ rights continues, and many family law firms now see that battle as one that is in the best interests of children.

Property Division

Whether you were married for a short time or for multiple decades, your divorce case will likely involve the division of property and assets. California’s divorce laws divide property and assets into two categories: community property and separate property.

Separate Property vs. Community Property

Assets and debts that were acquired during marriage are classified as community property. California is a community property state, meaning that anything under this classification will be divided equally between both spouses. Assets can be any personal or real property like land. Common possessions that are classified as community property include homes, mortgage debt, loans, shared bank accounts, investments, and credit card debt.

One of the first steps during a divorce is for both parties to disclose all assets and debts. Your family law attorney will work to ensure that the property division does not result in you forfeiting more than you are required to by law.

The time when the debts and assets were acquired is crucial. Anything bought before marriage or after separation would likely not be subject to division by the court. Items that solely belong to either spouse are considered personal property.

Can I Keep Personal Property?

You are allowed to keep personal property as long as the courts agree that the property is solely yours. Personal property can include anything that was gifted to you, even if that gift was given during the marriage. Any form of inheritance is also considered personal property. If you used personal property to buy something during your marriage, the courts may deem the second purchase as also belonging solely to you.
One example would be selling a car you owned before you were married and using the proceeds to buy a second car. The second car would be personal property.

Anything that you acquire after separation would likely be considered personal property as well. The moment of separation is usually the day when one party says they want a divorce. If your spouse tries to argue that your personal property is community property, your family law attorney can help.

FAQs

Q: How Much Does It Cost To File for Divorce in Orange County?

A: The fee for filing for divorce in Orange County will vary but is generally under $500. You or your attorney will need to pay the county clerk. If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you may qualify for a fee waiver if you receive public benefits, have a low income, or can’t afford to pay the fee and meet your basic needs. The filing fee is the initial fee used to start the divorce process, and you will likely have to pay other court-related fees.

Q: How Much Does It Cost for a Divorce Attorney in California?

A: The cost of a divorce lawyer ranges widely. Some attorneys prioritize high fees and high billable hours, while other law firms strive to deliver cost-effective legal counsel that doesn’t leave their clients in financial straits following a divorce. Discussing hourly fees and other questions should be a top priority during your consultation with your attorney.

Q: What if I Can’t Afford a Divorce Lawyer in California?

A: Divorces are notorious for being very costly, but this does not have to be the case for everyone seeking a divorce. There are family law attorneys in Orange County who work to provide cost-effective legal counsel to clients seeking a divorce. If you have concerns about affordability, contact an attorney to discuss your financial situation. You may be surprised how flexible some lawyers will be when working within your budget.

Q: Can a Spouse Refuse a Divorce in California?

A: California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that neither party has to prove that the other party did something to cause the divorce. It only takes one party’s willingness to file for divorce for the state to grant that request. Even if your spouse refuses to sign the divorce paper, the courts will grant the divorce as long as you were lawfully married in the first place and waited for six months after initially filing.

Q: Does California Have a Waiting Period for Divorce?

A: California has a six-month waiting period for divorce. Anyone who wants to file for divorce must hire an attorney to file the paperwork and serve the other spouse. Once this is done, the six-month waiting period begins. If both parties agree to the terms of the divorce, the divorce can be finalized once the waiting period passes. There are no exceptions to the six-month waiting period.

Schedule Your Orange County Divorce Lawyer Consultation Today

The team at the Moranda Law Firm, APC, is exclusively focused on family law. We are driven to deliver budget-conscious results that help our clients reach their goals. Every client deserves the opportunity to work with an attorney who is attentive to the client’s needs.

If you are looking for cost-effective legal counsel in Orange County, we welcome you to schedule your consultation today so we can begin learning the facts of your case.

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Divorce
Family Law

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