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Family Law and Divorce

By Terence Doyle

Posted on May 3, 2014 in Legal Considerations

California recognizes no fault-divorce whereby the majority of divorces in California are granted based on irreconcilable differences. Some cases may proceed to trial while others can be resolved through settlement. Procedurally, divorce involves a variety of issues, including child custody, child support, spousal support and property division.

Navigating the complexities of the legal system can be daunting. Our team of seasoned attorneys will walk you through the process, keep you informed, and protect your interests. From the initial interview to the resolution of your case, we will be with you every step of the way.

When a person seeks counsel in a family law matter, it is important that they not just seek legal advice but that they seek advice from a law firm that specializes in family law and matters collateral to family law. You need to find an attorney who understands your rights and is dedicated to protecting and preserving those rights. Rights that arise before, during and following a marriage include:

  • Premarital Agreements
  • Termination of the Marital Relationship
  • Property Settlements
  • Business Valuation
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Child Visitation
  • Spousal Support
  • Marital Standard of Living


These questions and answers are not intended to be legal advice to any person.  The information is general in nature and an answer given may or may not be applicable to a particular situation.  Family Law issues are extremely complex and competent legal advice should be sought from a licensed attorney. 

1. How much does a divorce cost?

The filing fee for a petition or a response is currently $435.00.  A fee for a subsequent Request for Order (formerly called a Motion or an Order to Show Cause) is $60.00 and additional $25.00 if it is for child custody or visitation. Attorney fees are billed hourly therefore are related to the complexity of a particular case.

2. How long will this take?

There is no specific time.  The target is for all cases to be finished within a year but this is not always the case.  A dissolution of marriage cannot occur until 6 months after the Respondent has been served with a Summons and Petition.

3. What if my spouse or I do not respond to the divorce petition that has been served?

A default judgment may be taken without further notice to the party who has not filed a Response.

4. How does the process work?

After the Summons and Petition have been filed and served, financial and property disclosures must be exchanged.  When the parties are satisfied with the disclosures, negotiations for settlement should occur.  If a case is not settled by a written agreement, the case goes to trial for the Judge to make a decision.

5. How do we get this started?

File a Summons and Petition.  It is a good idea to talk with a qualified attorney to learn your rights and obligations before filing.

6. Can I make my spouse move out?

Unless there is proven abuse, one party cannot make a spouse or registered domestic partner move from the residence of the other.

7. How do I get support?

Support may be obtained by filing a Request for Order or a stipulation for support.

8. Can support be modified? 

Support is modifiable upon a showing of a material change of circumstances to the court or by written agreement.  Other rules may apply.

9. Can I move out-of-state with the children?

This issue is very complex.  Before there is a court order for custody, it is premature to remove the children from the other parent without that parent’s written consent.  A court could order the child’s return after a move has taken place.  The court order for custody will generally control the limitations, if any, on the residence of a child.

10. Who should move out of the family residence?

First and foremost a parent must act to protect children from abuse.  Secondarily, a person should protect themselves from abuse.  A temporary protective move from the family residence may not affect a party’s ultimate return to the family residence by court order.  A party desiring to retain use of the family residence pending the final decision on that issue should seek a court order by filing a Request for Order.

Am I legally married now if my divorce was not finalized in a foreign country?

A marriage valid in a foreign jurisdiction is valid in California so long as it does not violate the strong public policy of California.

11. What is the difference between seeking a divorce and a legal separation?

The procedures are the same.  Only the result is different.  If a party is legally separated, that party may not marry someone else.

12. How can I serve the other party with divorce papers if they are out of state? 

Contact a process server in the other state and follow that person’s direction.

13. What are the grounds for divorce in CA?

Irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity.

14. What are the grounds for having a marriage annulled?

Incestuous marriages and bigamous marriages are void.  Insufficient age, prior existing marriage (other than bigamous), unsound mind, fraud, force and physical incapacity are grounds to void marriages but they are not automatically void.