Escondido Divorce Lawyer

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No divorce is ever easy. However, working with the right Escondido divorce lawyer can help reduce the stress and confusion that comes with the process. The primary legal issues to be worked out in a divorce, such as spousal support, property division, and child custody and support, can be difficult to navigate. The law provides general guidance, but the details will need to be figured out. Given how important these issues are to a person’s life, making determinations about them can lead to contentious situations in the divorce process.

At The Law Firm, we have a firsthand understanding of all the challenges that can emerge through a divorce. Our experience, though, can be crucial to smoothing out the process and possibly avoiding some of the contentions that it brings. Our clients can count on us to advocate for their interests and objectives throughout the divorce process. We do so, though, with an understanding of the emotional state of our clients as well, so we give them the care and compassion that they deserve.

What Are the Primary Elements of a Divorce?

Many divorcing couples have been married and together for years. During that time, they’ve built a life that includes acquiring property, taking on financial obligations, and possibly having children. The divorce process will need to unwind and divide this life in a way that makes sense and is fair, given the circumstances. If there aren’t any children involved, the process is often simplified, but there are generally four components that need to be sorted out in a divorce.

Property Division

Not all property in a marriage will need to be divided. That’s why the first thing that will need to be done in the property division process is determining which property is community property and which is separate.

Property that was brought into the marriage is generally going to be considered separate property, along with some gifts and inheritances that could have been acquired during the marriage. Property that was acquired during the marriage will usually be considered community property.

It’s worth noting that some separate property could become community property if it is sufficiently mixed with community property. For instance, an inherited house could become community property if funds acquired during the marriage are invested in making significant improvements.

Once the community property is determined, it will then need to be divided. According to California law, this is required to be divided in an “equitable” fashion. This does not necessarily mean an equal split of 50-50, although that may serve as a starting point. In general, though, the court will want a fair distribution, given all the elements present in the divorce.

Spousal Support

Often, the court will initially order temporary spousal support, which is meant to be paid during the divorce process. This is determined based on a uniform statewide guideline that is given through a complex formula. The final orders regarding spousal support may differ, although the guideline amount could be used to begin the process.

The final spousal support will either be negotiated between the parties or determined by a judge. Even if negotiated, a judge will need to sign off on the final orders, so they will need to generally conform with what the court expects to see. Some of the factors that go into determining spousal support include:

  • How long the couple was married
  • The earning capacity of both spouses
  • The needs of both spouses
  • Each spouse’s ability to improve their earning capacity
  • The assets and debts of both spouses
  • The standard of living that was established in the marriage
  • Contributions to the marriage, including homemaking and supporting the other spouse’s career
  • Age and health

Child Custody

One of the most difficult aspects of the divorce process is child custody. Parents want to spend time with their children, and having to give up some of that time is one of the hardest realizations that comes with a divorce. The issue has the potential to turn difficult if either side is unwilling to compromise, which is why it’s important to work with a lawyer who understands how the law and court will consider the situation.

The primary standard that the court will use to determine what kind of custody decision makes the most sense will be the interests of the child. The health, safety, well-being, and development of the child will be the lens through which any child custody ruling will be evaluated. Some of the factors that may be considered include:

  • The child’s existing relationship with each parent
  • The parent’s ability to provide a loving and stable environment for the child
  • The child’s age, health, and needs
  • How either parent may encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • If either parent has a history of abuse, substance abuse, or domestic violence

There are two different types of custody that may be determined, depending on the final evaluation. They are:

  • Legal Custody: The role of a parent to make important decisions, such as healthcare, education, and religious choices, falls under the category of legal custody.
  • Physical Custody: The decisions about where a child will live and how time will be divided are key aspects of physical custody.

The custody that is awarded in these categories can be described in two ways:

  • Sole Custody: One parent has the entirety of a particular kind of custody.
  • Joint Custody: Both parents split the custody between them.

It’s worth noting that both types of custody do not have to be awarded in the same fashion. For instance, it’s not uncommon for one parent to be given sole physical custody. When this happens, it is primarily because of the difficulty that the other parent would have arranging joint physical custody around the requirements of their work. However, the court may still award joint legal custody in these situations, as the sole physical custody was not awarded because of concerns with the other parent but rather due to logistical issues.

Child Support

As with child custody, the primary factor that goes into child support decisions is the well-being of the child. Child support will be determined in a way that ensures that the child will receive the support and resources that they need.

Generally, child support will be paid from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. The idea is that the custodial parent will generally have the child more regularly and need to provide for them at those times. They also will have less of an opportunity to devote time, energy, and resources to increasing their income because of the time that they spend with the child or children.

This dynamic of a parent having both less time with their kids and having to provide more support can often be one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce. It can really feel like these individuals are stuck in a lose-lose situation, where they are paying to spend less time with their kids. That’s not entirely inaccurate either, as the greater percentage of time that they spend with the child, the lower child support will likely be.

However, child support will consider both parents’ financial state, income from any source, and expenses. When you review the financials with your Escondido divorce lawyer, they should be able to give you a better idea of what to expect in your situation.

Can Court Orders Be Modified?

Whatever the court orders at the end of a divorce could later be amended or modified under the right circumstances. The process typically involves first petitioning the court for a potential modification. If the petition is accepted, there will later be a hearing to determine whether the orders will be modified.

These modifications are typically only done when there has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as a parent losing income or being more available to spend time with a child. It could also be a significant change that directly involves the child.

To get modifications to orders, you will need to have your strongest argument made, just as you will need a strong argument to prevent modifications as well. A divorce lawyer can be essential to this process, as they can craft a strong petition for the court and make a formidable argument regarding the issue in hearings. Whether you are hoping to maintain orders or get them modified, be sure to have an experienced divorce attorney working for you.

Is There a Waiting Period for a California Divorce?

Some states require a divorcing couple to spend a certain period of time living separately before their divorce can proceed. While California doesn’t have this requirement, there are a couple of requirements worth being aware of.

One of these is the residency requirement, which mandates that at least one of the spouses must have lived in California for a minimum of six months before the divorce can be filed. One of them must also have been a resident of the specific country where the divorce is being filed for at least three months. This does not mean that the person filing the divorce is required to meet those requirements, so long as the other spouse fits them.

The other time-related requirement to be aware of is the minimum time that must pass between when a divorce is served and the point when it can be finalized. The law requires the passage of at least six months between these two dates. While California doesn’t have a waiting period before filing, this six-month minimum serves as a kind of waiting period.

Often, divorcing spouses will use this period, along with their lawyers, to see if they can negotiate a separation agreement. This can help them avoid the expense, time, and uncertainty that can occur when a divorce goes through litigation.

Is California a “No-Fault” Divorce State?

California is a no-fault divorce state, so you do not need to demonstrate that there was any harm, injury, or wrongdoing on the part of the other spouse to file for divorce. Citing irreconcilable differences will be enough.

What Are the Steps of Divorce in California?

The steps of getting a divorce in California can sometimes be complicated, and it’s important to have good legal guidance to ensure that procedures are followed properly.

As long as you meet the residency requirements, the first step in the divorce is filing a petition with the court. Once this is done, the other spouse will need to be served the divorce papers, usually by way of a process server or sheriff. The other spouse will have 30 days to respond. After that, both parties will need to complete financial disclosures.

From that point, the couple is free to negotiate a separation agreement. If litigation is necessary, though, there will need to be court hearings that will address the components of a divorce. The divorce will be finalized when a judge signs off on the dissolution of the marriage.

An Escondido Divorce Lawyer Can Help You Through the Divorce Process

Divorce is a difficult undertaking. There are always a lot of emotions involved with the situation, whether the divorce is expected to be amicable or not. The complexity of the process on top of that only adds to the stress. Divorce untangles two lives that, in many cases, have been built together for years. That’s never going to be an easy task. Issues like property division, child custody, and spousal and child support have the potential to turn contentious.

Every divorce is unique, but the more experience a lawyer has, the more they can be prepared to handle the issues that may emerge throughout the divorce process. At The Law Firm, we have a depth of knowledge and experience handling divorces that can be tremendously beneficial to our clients. Our team also understands the emotional component of the process as well.

Our firm can pair our legal prowess with the compassion that our clients need in these sensitive situations. If that’s the kind of help you’re looking for in your divorce situation, contact us today.

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