divorce litigation lawyers in california
Dissolving a Marriage
Divorce is difficult no matter your circumstances. The process of achieving total legal separation from a spouse requires a lot of time, attention, and paperwork. Many people label this as the most stressful time of their lives.
Divorce is a massive undertaking that can change almost every aspect of your life, and there can be added complications if you or your spouse are lawyers. Divorce is common among lawyers — they can have high-stress jobs that require working long hours, especially when they work for a large law firm. Depending on the types of cases they’re exposed to, any negative emotions may spill from work into their home lives. Though your divorce is going to end the same way as everyone else’s, the path to get there and your life following can have factors that non-lawyers may not experience.
These factors can make your divorce more complicated, and the assistance of highly trained lawyers can make your process much easier. The Orange County family law team at the Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall is experienced in representing lawyers going through a divorce and can help mitigate the factors you may experience as a lawyer going through a divorce, such as asset protection and career impact. If you’re concerned about the effects of a divorce on your life, contact our law firm today for a consultation.
Why Do I Need an Orange County Divorce Attorney?
Being a lawyer, you are likely familiar with legal requirements and court processes. However, family court has a lot of nuances and regulations you may not recognize unless you are a family law attorney. Experienced Orange County divorce attorneys like those at the Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall have represented people in divorces for years and know how to protect you in your divorce. Even if you are a divorce attorney, you may be too emotionally invested in your case to handle it with the impartiality required to be successful. Your reputation and career can also be damaged if you handle your divorce improperly, even if it was accidental.
When to Consider Divorce?
As an attorney, you understand more than most the complication of getting a divorce. When you think it’s time, you must evaluate your issues with not only your spouse but also your own inner turmoil and challenges. Then consider your compatibility in the current circumstances, whether any changes can allow you to find happiness in your marriage, and if either partner is willing to make those changes. Signs you may be ready to consider divorce are:
- Abuse. Any form of abuse — emotional, physical, or sexual — from your partner toward you or your children should never be ignored and should be nonnegotiable for ending the relationship. Further, the distress you experience in an abusive relationship is bad for your well-being. Though divorce may not be easy in these situations, there are some protections in California law for those experiencing abuse. An experienced lawyer can help you find these resources.
- Lack of intimacy. Though lacking love or intimacy is not impossible to recover from, it is frequently cited as a cause for a marriage ending. This does not simply mean sex, as there are four types of intimacy: emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical. If you’ve lost intimacy with your spouse, you no longer feel connected to or invested in them.
- Unequal labor. One spouse may bear a majority of the emotional and physical labor in the relationship. One person becomes the giver, always reaching out and taking care of the other, while the taker, in turn, shows only avoidance to the giver. Bearing the brunt of this labor is exhausting and can cause the giver to resent the taker, ending any emotional connection.
- Financial issues. Conflicts with money can quickly drive a wedge between a couple. A financial imbalance where one person is the breadwinner can foster resentment, especially if there is financial abuse involved. One person improperly using the joint finances through problems with spending, budgeting, or habits like gambling can also strain a marriage past recovery.
If you’re unsure if a divorce is truly what you want, a trial separation can help you get clarity on your next steps. This informal agreement states the spouses are taking some time apart and will also be living separately. You can get back together with your spouse or continue with the divorce following the trial separation. However, you must be careful not to withdraw support from your family, as this can be considered spousal abandonment in California. It may be useful to discuss properly setting up a trial separation so that it does not negatively affect the divorce.
How to File for Divorce in Orange County, CA?
To file for dissolution of marriage or divorce in California, you or your spouse must meet certain residency requirements. Either you or your spouse must have resided:
- In the state for six months — if the custody of minor children is involved in the divorce, they must have also lived in the state for six months with a parent.
- In the county where you’re filing for three months
If you meet the residency requirements, you can proceed with filing for divorce. California is a no-fault state, meaning no proof of wrongdoing is required for the divorce. Simply not wanting to be married anymore is an acceptable reason for a divorce. You can also file for divorce even if the other person in your marriage does not want one. You have the option of a contested or uncontested divorce:
- Contested divorce. A contested divorce occurs when the spouses cannot settle every aspect of the divorce on their own. A trial with a judge is required to settle the issues that the spouses cannot reach an agreement on their own. The judge listens to the case and evidence presented by each side. Then, they decide on the contested issues from this information. You and your spouse have little control over this decision. It is entirely in the hands of the judge. This type of divorce also takes longer, as you must wait for court procedures and formalities. Contested divorces are best for relationships that had any type of abuse to the spouse or child or if one spouse is suspected of hiding assets, income, or other information.
- Uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce occurs when an agreement can be made for every item that must be addressed by the divorce. Both spouses must agree to how each item will be handled, along with agreeing to the custody agreement if there are minor children involved. This type of divorce offers the divorcing spouses the most control, as they decide how everything is going to be handled. It can also take significantly less time, as the couple creates an agreement and submits it, thereby avoiding most court proceedings. The best candidates for an uncontested divorce are those with little to no assets and no children or a couple that can communicate well enough to create the agreement.
How to Handle Disputes in a Divorce
Arguments over assets, alimony, debt, child support, and child custody are common in divorces. As a lawyer, you may have a practice that you need to protect in the divorce, along with student loans you are paying off. There may be a lot of hurt feelings swirling around one or both spouses, making it difficult to resolve issues on their own. Luckily, there are options available to help reach a resolution outside of litigation. There are three ways to help handle an uncontested divorce:
- Mediation. This process involves utilizing an independent mediator with skills in conflict resolution. The mediator does not make decisions for the divorcing spouses. Instead, they remain neutral and attempt to bridge the communication gap between the disputing parties through information relay. The mediator helps the couple work through any animosity in such a way as to foster a productive conversation. All three work together to create an agreement that eventually becomes a legally binding agreement, but the mediator cannot make it a binding agreement themselves. This is the most common type of mediator. A lawyer is not explicitly required, though it could be wise to use a mediator who is also a divorce attorney for quality.
- Arbitration. This method is like litigation in a court, but it takes place in private. The arbitrator is more flexible than a judge, as they are not tied to court proceedings and regulations. The arbitrator can help the couple reach agreements, but the agreements made with an arbitrator are legally binding. The arbitrator makes choices on the marital issues, and the right to litigation is waived through this process.
- Collaboration. Collaborative attorneys guide the case after an agreement is signed, saying the couple will not turn to litigation to solve their case. The attorneys ensure both spouses can speak within the meeting, aiming to negate any power imbalance within the relationship. Unfortunately, if a result is not found, then the attorneys must withdraw, and you start over with a new team. This can extend the amount of time your divorce takes and increase your total costs.
Regardless of the method chosen, all of these methods have the main goal of working together with your spouse during the divorce proceedings. These types of divorce can result in less animosity toward the other spouse compared to litigation. In litigation, there may be feelings of betrayal and anger, as presenting in front of a judge creates a mindset that pits the spouses against each other. The negative feelings from litigation are likely to carry over after the divorce and can taint any situations where the ex-spouses must work together, like co-parenting.
Litigation is also very public and can affect your career as a lawyer. You may be presenting your divorce in front of your coworkers and a judge you could see again in other cases. The way your divorce plays out could affect the way these people see you, which can also affect your career progression.
How Quickly Can I Get a Divorce?
California has a mandatory six-month waiting period before a divorce is official, meaning your divorce will take at least six months to complete. The court intends this period to be an opportunity to resolve any conflicts and potentially reconcile the marriage. This waiting period begins immediately following the divorce paperwork being filed. Your divorce cannot be official until the end of it, even if the court issues a judgment before the end of the waiting period.
Outside of this six-month waiting period, the amount of time your divorce takes depends on you and your spouse. If you can resolve all conflicts and your divorce is uncontested before the waiting period ends, then your divorce isn’t going to take much longer than the waiting period. You can be working with the other person continuously to reach an uncontested divorce.
If you cannot reach an agreement, your case will go to trial. Litigation for your divorce can take months or even years, depending on the number and complexity of items you were unable to agree on. California has community property rules, which state all marital property must be divided equally in the event of a divorce. Child custody issues can also lengthen the litigation period, as the judge must collect evidence to ensure their choice is in the best interests of the child.
What Is the Cost of Divorce in California?
Starting a divorce case by filing the papers can cost between $435 and $450. Costs increase from this point, depending on the choices you make and the complexity of your divorce. Factors that affect the cost are how many assets need to be divided, the number of children you have, and how much of what is previously listed you can find a mutually satisfactory agreement for. You may be able to work with your spouse and resolve your divorce with little outside help, enabling you to use online help forums for filing. Unfortunately, most divorces cannot be solved this easily, so the cost ultimately includes lawyer fees, mediator/arbitrator fees, and court costs. The average cost for a divorce in California is around $17,500.
Contact the Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall
The cost of a divorce for a lawyer can be more than just the financial cost. Acting inappropriately, even accidentally, can put your license at risk and damage your reputation within your current practice area. Our extensive experience with getting lawyers through divorces lets you continue working on your caseload and living your life, even during this troubling time.
Learn how we can help you by contacting the Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall online today.