Filing for divorce in Tustin, CA moves to bring a chapter of one’s life to an end. While just signing a few papers is the beginning, the divorce process can drag on and get ugly between the two parties. Some people try to soldier through a divorce on their own, while most will hire an attorney to work with them on the case.
In the case of a contested and contentious divorce, you will want a Tustin divorce lawyer and law firm on your side to ensure the court respects all your rights. Divorce cases require plenty of negotiation about asset distribution and child custody, and a lawyer can help guide you through the process and advocate for you in all phases of the process.
Some attorneys cover a little bit of everything. They handle criminal, immigration, and worker’s compensation law at the same time. Beverly D. Moranda focuses on one thing only: family law. Ms. Moranda has had a passion for family law since she passed the bar 10 years ago. Since opening her firm, she has exclusively worked on family law cases to help people through difficult times in their lives.
Ms. Moranda is a member of the Orange County Bar Association and Orange County Hispanic Bar Association. Additionally, the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization designated her as a California Certified Specialist in Family Law. Ms. Moranda knows what it takes to represent clients as a compassionate, rigorous Tustin divorce lawyer.
Divorce formally begins when one member of the marriage files the appropriate paperwork to start the process. A third party will serve the other spouse the divorce papers, and the case moves into the negotiation phase.
Both parties and any legal counsel they retain can then begin to discuss the terms of the divorce. The spouses must determine what they think is a fair deal regarding a few key factors. If the two sides cannot agree through mediation, collaborative divorce, or arbitration, a judge will hear the case and make a ruling based on the evidence presented.
Once the judge makes a ruling, it is final until a party seeks to modify the terms after the end of the trial in family court. The primary negotiating factors deal with custody, child support, and asset distribution.
If a couple had any kids in the marriage, the two people will have to decide who will have custody of the child. Custody comes in two forms in California: physical and legal.
Physical custody covers where the child will live after a divorce. Couples can opt for a 50/50 split of time with the child, or one parent can take the lion’s share of the responsibility.
Legal custody refers to the ability to contribute to major decisions in a child’s life. These could be decisions about the child’s schooling, religion, diet, or health care. A parent without legal custody will not be allowed to weigh in on these issues and will have to abide by the decision of the other parent.
Divorce settlements often come with child support payments from one party to the other. California does not give a preference to one gender when determining who should pay child support following a divorce.
The state looks at a few key aspects when determining who should pay child support and how much they should pay. A judge will consider:
When judges rule on child support amounts, they will look to balance any equalities. A parent who makes less money than the other and has more custody will get child support payments.
California considers any assets gained after marriage to be community assets to which the two spouses have an equal claim. The court will attempt to split these assets 50/50. If a couple chooses to handle a divorce out of court, they can make an alternative arrangement they both agree to. The court looks at assets like cars, houses, retirement funds, and joint bank accounts.
The court may order one spouse to pay the other for a set amount of time after the divorce. For a marriage of less than ten years, the court generally opts for alimony payments for half the length of the marriage. An eight-year marriage would require four years of alimony payments. Longer marriages do not have the same guidelines, and payments in these cases may go on indefinitely.
Alimony is a way for courts to help someone following a divorce and the loss of income. A spouse with a lower income can request financial help and have a judge hear their petition. If the judge finds it proper, they will order the higher-earning spouse to provide alimony payments. California law is gender-neutral regarding alimony. No matter one’s gender, they can request alimony payments after a divorce.
People do not sit still after a divorce, and life changes for both spouses once they finalize the divorce. A person might get a new job that pays better or worse or might move to a new place with increased rent. When life situations change, that person has the right to request a change to the divorce terms.
A Tustin divorce lawyer and law firm can file a petition with a judge to modify a divorce settlement in the wake of new developments. The judge may choose to lower alimony payments, increase custody, or reconsider how much child support the other spouse gets.
Your lawyer can help you with the filing process and explain the change in the situation to a judge to help try to get you the result you hope for. You need to have a judge on your side if you want to modify your current divorce settlement, and lawyers can speak a judge’s language.
Some people do not hire an attorney when they are going through a divorce. Some divorces are smooth processes where both parties agree with the arrangements and come to an amicable split of the assets and any custody or child support. While you may not need an attorney in these situations, they are often few and far between, and many that start this way become contentious.
Unfortunately, you need an attorney on your side, no matter how amicable your divorce is. Even in mediation, you need someone to protect your rights and advocate for you. Divorce features frequent negotiation with the other side to come to a deal before a judge hears the case. Your attorney can leverage their legal knowledge to gain the upper hand in negotiation and get you a better deal.
Your attorney will also not have the same emotional investment in the case that you do, allowing them to provide advice without any bias. They’ll explain how they see the case and what sort of settlement you can expect if you go in front of a judge.
A: Getting started with a divorce will cost about $435. California offers a fee waiver for lower-income individuals. You do not need an attorney when you begin the process of filing for a divorce, so you can wait until the negotiation period before taking on legal counsel.
A: In some instances, both parties will be responsible for their attorney fees while going through a divorce. A judge may order one spouse to pay the other person’s attorney fees as part of a divorce settlement. By doing this, the court seeks to balance the playing field if one spouse has more money than the other. Both spouses can have attorneys, even if the cost is prohibitive to one party.
A: Divorce attorney costs will depend on where you live in California, how experienced the attorney is, and how difficult the case proves to be. On average, a divorce attorney will charge $330 per hour. In total, you will likely spend between $5,000 and $15,000 for a divorce attorney.
A: No law forces people to have an attorney present during a divorce case in California. However, having an advocate should help you get a better outcome when negotiating for a divorce settlement. Divorce lawyers know all the aspects of family law and can use that leverage to negotiate a better deal with the other spouse. Often, the divorce lawyer pays for themselves with the settlement they secure for a client.
Going through a divorce is emotionally draining, and you need an attorney with you to help you through the strenuous process. At Moranda Law Firm, APC, we can help with your divorce needs, and our president, Beverly D. Moranda, has the skills and knowledge to advocate for you in court. Contact us today to get started with a free case evaluation.