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Irvine Divorce Lawyers Who Provide Legal Guidance Tailored To You

The complexity and emotions of divorce proceedings can stress you out and make you doubt yourself. You need an attorney you can trust to give you good advice and protect you. You also need customized solutions that make sense for you and your family.

Maggio Law practices exclusively in divorce and related matters of family law. Our attorneys are skilled and compassionate, guiding you through each step of the divorce process with the strategies and strength you need.

To work with an experienced and client-focused Irvine divorce lawyer, contact us at 949-227-3001.

Compassionate Representation Committed To Your Future

Gerald Maggio and our team are devoted to your best interests. That starts with listening to you to build a trusting attorney-client relationship. Our lawyers take the time to address your questions and concerns and understand your goals and priorities. Through problem-solving and courtroom litigation (when necessary), they help you tackle the key issues of divorce, such as:

Our trial lawyers can faithfully protect your interests in contested divorce if you need to litigate specific issues. They can also help you draw up the papers for an uncontested divorce and make sure your bases are covered.

Explore Divorce Mediation Or Collaborative Law

Our attorneys will talk to you about alternatives to an adversarial and expensive courtroom battle. They offer preparation and advice for divorce mediation as well as representation in collaborative law, in which both sides agree not to litigate. They will help you decide the best approach for your circumstances and goals in divorce.

What Are The Grounds For Divorce In California?

In the old days, the party suing for divorce had to prove that their spouse had wronged them, and their spouse could fight to stay married.

Today, California is a no-fault divorce state. Either party can file, and it is not necessary for a reluctant spouse to “agree” to get divorced. There is no requirement to prove grounds of wrongdoing – only that the marriage is broken. However, domestic violence, extramarital affairs and other factors contributing to the demise of the marriage can come into play in property division, alimony and child custody.

The attorneys of Maggio Law provide compassionate counsel and skilled representation for contested or uncontested divorces in Orange County and Southern California.

California Has No-Fault Divorce, But…

There are just two grounds for divorce: (a) the couple’s irreconcilable differences or (b) one spouse’s permanent incapacity to make decisions. The only fault-based path to divorce is annulment, which usually arises soon after marriage.

“Fault” grounds sometimes do pertain to related divorce matters:

  • The California courts do not consider wrongdoing in dividing community property. Neither spouse will be punished for adultery, cruelty, abandonment or other traditional grounds for divorce. However, courts will incorporate reimbursement for marital waste – money spent by one spouse on adulterous affairs.
  • The California alimony statute specifically mentions domestic violence as a factor. The court will consider a history of abuse by the paying spouse, as well as a history of violence by the supported spouse against the paying spouse.
  • Any domestic violence (during the marriage or after separation), such as spousal abuse, child abuse or stalking, can have a significant influence on custody proceedings and visitation rights.

We Understand How California Courts Will View The Evidence

While you don’t have to prove grounds to get a divorce, one spouse’s wrongdoing can still be a factor in family court proceedings. Our lawyers will explain the law and what it could mean for your case. Whatever the circumstances, our role is to anticipate those complicating factors and guide you to the most favorable outcome of your divorce.

The Divorce Timeline And What To Expect In California

While every divorce is different, there are protocols and predictable steps in the legal process. The knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys of Maggio Law will guide you throughout this stressful journey. We take the time to educate you about each phase to help you make good decisions and alleviate your anxieties.

Preparing For Divorce Or Separation

Whether you are initiating a divorce or your spouse has asked for a divorce, it pays to be proactive. You should talk to a lawyer sooner than later if you are thinking of getting divorced or if you have already separated. An attorney can help you get organized and start thinking about important questions regarding your finances and your children.

Filing The Papers

The first official step is filing a divorce petition (Form FL-100) with the family court in the county where you live, including a declaration of children you have together. If you want the court to rule on parenting arrangements, you can also file the child custody and visitation (parenting time) application attachment.

Either spouse can file for divorce or separation. It is not necessary to prove grounds for divorce in California other than “irreconcilable differences.” Filing the petition and paying the filing fee automatically invokes restraining orders relating to joint finances, joint property and joint custody. If there has been abuse or threats in the marriage, it may be prudent to seek a domestic violence protective order with the help of a divorce lawyer.

Serving The Summons

An adult other than the petitioner must serve the spouse with the divorce papers. This does not have to be a surprise or adversarial event. A friend or family member can deliver the papers, for instance, or you can hire a process server.

Responding To The Petition

The spouse (respondent) has 30 days from the date they are served to file their response to the terms of the divorce action. The soonest you can be divorced is six months from the date of service (if no response) or from the date the response is filed.

Financial Disclosures

When the divorce is filed, the petitioner has 60 days to submit financial disclosures to the court. The respondent also has 60 days from the filing of their response to submit the same information. The sooner the paperwork is filed, the sooner the next phase can commence. The court requires the following:

  • A preliminary Declaration of Disclosure (Form FL-140)
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
  • Schedule of Assets And Debts (Form FL-142) or Property Disclosure (Form FL-160)
  • The two most recent years of your tax returns

Temporary Orders

Once the divorce/separation petition is filed, either party may request that the court issue temporary orders relating to custody and visitation, child support and/or spousal support/partner support. These interim orders will remain in force until the terms of divorce and custody matters are litigated or your written agreement is finalized by the court.

Resolution By Default Or Agreement

The next steps depend on the circumstances of your case.

1. If your spouse has not responded to the petition and you have not worked out the terms with your spouse, the court can issue a true default judgment based on your proposed solutions for community property, custody and support.

2. If your spouse did not file a response, but the two of you have a written divorce or separation agreement, you can submit your settlement and request that the court enter it as a default with an agreement.

3. If your spouse filed a response and you have a written agreement on all the issues, the court can enter the judgment for your uncontested divorce.

Scenarios 2 and 3 require that you each submit a Final Declaration of Disclosure with updated financial information.

Resolution By Negotiation Or Litigation

If your spouse filed a response, but you are not in agreement on all matters (property, debt, custody, visitation and support), your contested divorce will continue.

• If you agree on some issues or feel that you could agree with outside help, you may consider divorce mediation. If mediation yields an agreement, you can submit it to the court to have it entered as a judgment.

• If mediation does not pan out or you choose not to mediate, the court will set a trial date. You can still negotiate, with the help of your lawyers, up until the trial to resolve some or all of your disputes.

• You can request a separate trial on specific unresolved issues, as opposed to one big divorce trial.

Litigation adds to the cost and length of divorce proceedings. Custody litigation is particularly expensive because of the many professionals involved. We encourage clients to explore the workable middle ground, but we are capable trial lawyers when conflicts reach an impasse and must be resolved before a judge.

What Is Left To Consider After Your Divorce Is Finalized?

Once you finalize your divorce, it is important to make sure you update the details of your life to accommodate this change. For example, make sure to update your insurance policies to remove necessary individuals as beneficiaries and from coverage, update your estate plan to reflect your new wishes after divorce, remove anyone that needs to be from mortgages and other ownership documents, make sure your bank accounts are in your name only, and update your passwords to prevent account tampering.

What Is An Uncontested Divorce?

Instead of a traditional divorce that is contentious and adversarial, an uncontested divorce is one that attempts to avoid these norms by using a cooperative and conciliatory approach to divorce. Instead of arguing over every issue in court, both parties agree to work together to jointly determine the best distribution of assets and other aspects of the dissolved relationship.

The advantage of using this method is that it can significantly improve the relationship that you have with your former spouse after the divorce, which can help reduce tensions and is especially beneficial if you have children. Furthermore, an uncontested divorce is a much more efficient means of divorce, because it is quicker than using a divorce court and costs much less due to the lower legal and filing fees.

What Is A Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce is what most people imagine when they picture a divorce. It is an adversarial process between you and your spouse that involves litigating your case in court as you fight over asset distribution, child custody arrangements and spousal support. This process is generally lengthy and involves more costly legal fees than an uncontested divorce. Additionally, there is less certainty in the outcome of litigation in this manner because, ultimately, the final say on all your goals will be determined by the judge rather than you and your spouse.

How Do You Select The Right Irvine Divorce Attorney?

There are several things that you should consider when you are looking for a divorce attorney. First and foremost, make sure that the attorney you are looking to hire has the skills and knowledge to assist with your specific case, especially if it involves complex asset distribution or related issues like child custody. Secondly, check for references that they have with the local bar association and other related legal services that provide reputable information. Finally, make sure that the type of attorney you are choosing has the right approach for you. Some people want a firebrand attorney who will aggressively argue their case, while others prefer a more strategic litigator who will accomplish things efficiently and with minimal additional tension. Once you find a lawyer that you are comfortable with, you are ready to move on to the next steps in your divorce.

What Is The Difference Between A Legal Separation And A Divorce In California?

Both a legal separation and a divorce are identical in terms of the requirements to file them and the issues that they cover. However, there are some fundamental differences in the purposes that they serve. A legal separation is not a complete dissolution of your legal relationship with your spouse; rather, it is a measure to allow you and your spouse to separate and have the court determine important things between you, such as child custody arrangements. A legal separation also allows for either of you to continue taking advantage of any legal benefits, such as health insurance, and can allow you to remain married if your religion prohibits divorce.

By contrast, a divorce is a complete dissolution of the legal relationship between you and your spouse. It will terminate all legal benefits between you, and you will have a final decree on asset distribution, spousal and child support, child custody and any other issues that you need to resolve during the divorce. You also are not precluded from choosing a divorce even after you file for legal separation; at any time, either party can file for a divorce to make the separation final.

What Is The Six-Month Rule For Divorce In California?

California Family Code Section 2339 states that no dissolution of marriage can be granted until six months have passed since the respondent spouse has been served a copy of the divorce petition or they appear in court, whichever happens first. The court can, for good cause, extend this period, but that is uncommon. The goal of the six-month rule is to give couples a “cooling off” period to reconsider the split and make sure that the marriage really is irretrievably broken.

Can You Still Get Divorced If Your Spouse Does Not Sign The Papers?

Refusing to sign the divorce papers (or even acknowledge the process is happening) will not stop the divorce. If your spouse refuses to respond to the divorce petition within the time allotted by the court, which is 30 days from the date they are served, the court will simply grant you a default divorce. This means that your petition will be granted as requested without hearing from your spouse. By refusing to respond, your spouse gives up the ability to negotiate the terms of your split or contest the outcome of the case.

Do You Need An Irvine Divorce Lawyer If You And Your Spouse Agree On Everything?

The decisions you make in your divorce can affect you for the rest of your life. With that in mind, it is always important to have a divorce attorney. Aside from making certain that your divorce agreement is properly drafted and legal, your lawyer can make sure that your interests are protected when it comes to property rights, spousal support and custody. They can also help you anticipate and handle issues that you might otherwise overlook, such as the tax implications of your property division or support payments.

Do You Also Have To Pay For Your Spouse’s Divorce Attorney?

The family court judge sometimes orders one party to pay some or all of their spouse’s attorney fees. State law requires that each party to a divorce must have equal access to legal representation. If one spouse cannot afford an attorney, they can fill out an Income and Expense Declaration and ask the judge to order the other spouse to pay. The judge will consider if the spouse requesting assistance lacks the resources to afford their own lawyer and if the other spouse can afford to pay for both attorneys.

How Long Does A California Divorce Take?

Every divorce takes at least six months to complete because state law imposes that time as a mandatory waiting period after a divorce filing. Depending on how much property there is to split and whether you and your spouse have children together, you could settle all divorce matters during the waiting period, or it could last well past the six-month mark.

Call Us For Steady Guidance In Your California Divorce

Resolving the pressing problems of divorce is often emotionally draining. You want an experienced and empathetic lawyer who will guide you through the legal maze and help you find the best way forward.

To arrange your consultation, call our Irvine law office at 949-227-3001 or contact us online. We practice throughout Orange County and Southern California.

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