Divorce Lawyers Orange County CA
Divorce can be an emotionally stressful experience often accompanied by legal complexities. For this reason, having proper guidance and support during divorce proceedings is of utmost importance.
Hence, individuals may look for lawyers for legal representation, especially if they are going through contested divorces. An important thing to note is that divorce lawyers in Orange County, California, can charge high rates for their services.
Lawyers also require upfront payment, which can be financially challenging for individuals seeking to dissolve their marriage. However, spouses can avoid high costs and stressful litigation by hiring an online divorce service.
Online divorce services such as BlissDivorce have online dispute resolution tools and highly-skilled mediators who can help spouses reach an agreement more easily. They can help spouses communicate effectively and navigate divorce with less stress and cost.
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Divorce Process Orange County – Overview
The divorce process in Orange County, CA, starts with one of the spouses filing for a divorce with the family court. The respondent receives divorce papers, called a summons, and has to respond within 30 days.
The next step is for the spouses to exchange the required financial disclosure forms. The state of California requires both spouses in a divorce to disclose all assets and debts, including separate property. This must be done using the state disclosure forms within 60 days of filing the petition for the petitioner and within 60 days of being served for the respondent.
The next step is to reach a full agreement on division of assets and debts, child custody and child and spousal support. This can be accomplished in a few ways:
- If you and your spouse are communicating and on good terms, you can work out an agreement yourselves. This will save you a lot of time, money and conflict, if you’re able to do it.
- If you’re not on the best of terms or just can’t reach an agreement, you can hire an Orange County divorce mediator to help you work out your differences. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps you find common ground.
- If you’re on such bad terms that you can’t agree to use a mediator, you may each need to hire an attorney. Be sure your attorney practices in Orange County, CA, if that’s were you live. It’s helpful to have an attorney who is familiar with the Orange County courts and judges.
- In the worst case, a judge will decide things for you if you can’t reach an agreement. This is the most expensive and most uncertain way to get divorced–you never know how a judge will rule.
An emerging option is online divorce. In the past online divorce sites were only to document agreements and not to work one out, but new sites like BlissDivorce actually include digital mediation. You can resolve all your disagreements without hiring lawyers or going to court. BlissDivorce operates in Orange County and all counties in California.
Once you’ve reached an agreement, it will need to be documented in what’s called a Marital Settlement Agreement. You can hire an Orange County attorney to write this up, or save money by hiring a legal document assistant. Legal documentation assistants are licensed professionals who can prepare certain legal documents, including divorce paperwork, in Orange County and other parts of California. Online sites can also be used to prepare your paperwork.
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Divorce Options in Orange County, California
Navigating the divorce process can be difficult, so it is important for the spouses seeking the dissolution of the marriage to have a comprehensive understanding of the divorce process.
This includes familiarizing themselves with traditional divorce and divorce lawyers in Orange County or alternatives such as mediation and online divorce when they are appropriate. They also need to be familiar with their rights and responsibilities.
The California Family Code governs Orange County, CA’s divorce laws. These legislative acts cover a variety of legal issues. According to such legal matters, there are several types of ways to end a marriage.
The couples can opt for dissolution, commonly known as divorce, legal separation, nullity, or annulment.
Uncontested and contested Divorce
Divorce, in legal terms, is known as dissolution of marriage. The divorce can be uncontested or contested. Divorce is considered to be uncontested when both spouses agree on all divorce matters. They can reach an agreement without major conflicts.
Uncontested divorce is often fast and straightforward, and doesn’t require going to court. However, even if the divorce is uncontested, the spouses must go through the process carefully. They need to be informed about all divorce details before making decisions.They must be familiar with all the divorce terms to avoid making legal decisions they will later regret.
Uncontested divorce is not possible for everyone. When vital issues cannot be resolved, they must be then resolved in court. A contested divorce, also called a traditional divorce, is what people usually think of when they consider divorce. It’s when each spouse hires an attorney and appears before a judge to decide their case.
This type of divorce can be stressful, time-consuming as well as costly. Going to trial with a divorce attorney is usually an expensive option. That’s why more and more couples are seeking other options, like mediation and online divorce, to resolve their disagreements without going to court.
If the couple is unsure whether they would like to finalize the divorce, they can opt for a legal separation. Couples will sometimes choose this option for religious reasons or to maintain employer benefits for both spouses (although not all employers provide benefits to spouses after legal separation).
What surprises many people is that the legal separation process in Orange County is identical to the divorce process. You need to go through all the same steps described above, including making full financial disclosures, reaching an agreement on division of assets, support and child custody, and preparing a marital separation agreement.
Alternatively, some couples may seek to annul a marriage. This means the marriage is to be erased from a legal perspective. Annulments are only granted under specific circumstances in Orange County and other California Counties:
- Under 18 when married
- One or both spouses did not have the mental capacity to marry
- The marriage has not been consummated
- Incest or bigamy
- Being tricked or forced into the marriage, or fraud was involved
- You’re still married to someone else
When it comes to military divorces, there are also specific requirements that a divorce petitioner and respondent need to adhere to.
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A summary dissolution is an easier way of ending the marriage for simple divorces. It requires less paperwork than the standard divorce process and is usually less expensive.
However, this is not an option for all couples, as they have to meet certain requirements. To qualify for summary dissolution, the couple must be married for less than five years and cannot have children. They also cannot own any real estate and there are limits on the amount of assets and debts they can have.
Difference Between Litigation and Divorce Mediation
Litigation is a formal process of taking spousal disputes to court. In comparison, divorce mediation takes place outside of the courtroom. It involves a mediator, a neutral third party that guides the spouses through the process.
Their goal is to help the spouses communicate with each other and reach a settlement regarding all aspects of the divorce. While in litigation, the court makes the decisions, both parties can dictate terms during mediation.
Litigation is generally a costly and time-consuming process compared to mediation. Mediation is also more flexible and convenient. Mediation in Orange County can be handled in-person or online using a site link BlissDivorce.
Understanding Divorce Laws in Orange County, California
When filing for a divorce, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the laws specific to your living area. In Orange County, CA, divorce laws govern child custody, property division, spousal support, and more. We next review some of the key divorce laws to be aware of when going through a divorce in Orange County, CA.
No-fault divorce – grounds for divorce in Orange County, CA
The California state follows a no-fault divorce system. This means either spouse can file for a divorce without proving the other party did something wrong. In Orange County, spouses can seek divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
If the spouses decide their marriage is beyond saving, they can file for a divorce. The no-fault approach may simplify the process, focusing on the goal of dissolution of the marriage rather than who is to blame.
A rare but legally accepted reason for divorce is also permanent incapacity. This means that one of the spouses claims their partner doesn’t have the mental or legal capacity to make decisions.
Compared to irreconcilable differences, permanent incapacity requires proof in the form of a medical report from a medical professional. Seeking divorce on such grounds is more complex and not very common.
To be able to file for a dissolution of marriage, or divorce, individuals living in Orange County must meet the residency requirements. According to the California Family Code, either spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before the filing.
In Orange County, the laws mandate one party to have lived in the county for at least three months preceding the divorce petition. If these requirements are unmet, the spouses cannot get a divorce.
In such cases, spouses can opt for other ways to dissolve the marriage or wait until either spouse meets the requirements. Legal separation can be an option. As long as you currently reside in Orange County you can file for legal separation.
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Regarding property division, the divorce laws in Orange County and all of California follow the principle of community property. In general, all spouses’ assets and debts acquired during the marriage are presumed to be community property. Exceptions are gifts and inheritances received by one spouse individually.
According to California community property laws, debts and assets acquired by one or the other spouse during the marriage belong equally to both spouses. This is true even if only one spouse’s name is on an account or title–both spouses still have an equal right to the asset.
If you leave it to the Orange County Family Court to decide, community property will be split 50/50 between the spouses. This often means many assets will have to be sold. An Orange County, CA judge will only split assets in a way other than 50/50 if there is a “compelling reason” to do so. This happens rarely.
Child custody is a very significant aspect of the divorce process, as it involves minors. Hence, the family courts in Orange County prioritize the children’s best interests when determining custody arrangements for the parents.
Parents must reach a mutual agreement and create a parenting plan that will work well for everyone involved in the divorce process. They are encouraged to do so through negotiation or alternative solutions such as divorce mediation.
If they don’t come to an agreement, the court will then intervene and make decisions. Mainly, they consider each parent’s ability to provide a stable environment for the child. They also consider the child’s age, emotional well-being, and health.
Sole and joint custody
In some divorce cases, one parent is granted sole custody, while both spouses get joint custody in others. In cases where joint custody is not in the child’s best interest, one parent may get sole custody while the other gets supervised or unsupervised visits.
Depending on the specific case and circumstances, the court can also award a combination of both. A case of substance abuse can also impact the divorce outcome, especially if it is related to child custody. Substance abuse can impact a parent’s standing in a divorce and impact the division of assets.
Child support is another important aspect of the divorce process. Orange County, CA, has specific guidelines for calculating child support. They include the parent’s income, including wages, investments, and other benefits.
Other factors the court considers are the number of children and custody arrangements. Another parameter they can take into account is how much time each parent spends with their children.
After the child support amount has been set, changes can occur when necessary. If a parent refuses to meet the payments, their wages may be garnished.
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Alimony, also known as spousal support, is not mandatory in divorces in California. However, it may be awarded by the court or agreement of the two spouses with the intention of providing financial assistance for the spouse with lower earnings.
In deciding on a spousal support amount in Orange County, CA, judges must consider 10 to 12 factors, depending on whether or not you have children. These factors include::
- The spouses’ earning capacity
- The age and health of both parties
- The length of the marriage
- The contributions they made throughout their marriage
- Each spouse’s standard of living and needs
- Their assets and debts
- Child custody arrangements
- Domestic violence evidence
Equally important to know is that the court can decide the duration of the payments one party will need to make. If the length of marriage was less than 10 years, spousal support usually lasts for half the length of the marriage. If the marriage is “long-term”, or more than 10 years, there are no legal guidelines for length of spousal support. An Orange County judge could not set an end date, or could decide to set one based on the recipient’s earning capacity.
Couples not working with a divorce attorney will need to pay fees associated with completing the essential paperwork. In California, the cost to file a petition for dissolution of marriage is $435 for each spouse.
Individuals working with a divorce attorney will have to pay for the divorce’s attorney services. The typical cost for divorce lawyers in Orange County ranges from $20,000 – $30,000, and can be much higher.
Such fees are paid based on an hourly rate and almost always require an upfront retainer of $5,000 to $10,000. The total cost will depend on the case’s complexity and how hard it is to reach an agreement.
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Orange County, CA, has a mandatory waiting period of six months after the summons has been served on the respondent. Hence, the divorce process in Orange County is at least six months. Whether the time will be longer varies from one case to another, as each case differs.
For complex cases ending in a trial, the process can usually last for more than a year, and sometimes takes several years. If new issues arise during the proceedings, the time can be extended. The average time to get divorced when attorneys are involved is 11-15 months.
Divorce Lawyers vs. Online Divorce
Divorce lawyers legally represent their clients during a divorce process, advocating for them in a courtroom. They aim to help individuals navigate the legal process and protect the rights of their clients.
They offer advice and counseling throughout the divorce proceedings. The goal is to ensure the clients make informed decisions regarding the divorce. Their role is also to assist their clients in preparing and filling necessary documents.
They ensure that the paperwork is in compliance with the court and the state laws. Divorce lawyers can also offer legal consultation and assist their clients in planning and navigating complex divorce issues and matters.
Do you need a lawyer to get a divorce in Orange County?
In order to dissolve a marriage in Orange County, spouses do not need to hire a lawyer.
While lawyers can provide legal advice and counsel, couples seeking divorce can also file for a divorce online. If couples require professional support and help but want to avoid hiring an attorney, they can opt for an online divorce.
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Online divorce platforms such as BlissDivorce enable couples to reach and document a divorce agreement without the cost, time and conflict of hiring divorce lawyers in Orange County. These sites use advanced encryption technology for data protection.
The interface enables entering details regarding the divorce, such as assets or creating a parenting plan with the other party. If there are disagreements, digital dispute mediation tools are available and work in most cases. If needed, skilled mediators are available to work out final issues over Zoom. Once the agreement is settled, the platform prepares the paperwork and files it with the court. The entire process is completed in a fraction of the time and cost of divorce with Orange Country divorce attorneys involved.