FAQs About Litigation

What is it? Divorce or dissolution?

In California, dissolution (rather than divorce) is the technical term for ending a marriage. Dissolution is any formal, legal ending of a marriage other than by annulment.

Whether you call it divorce or dissolution, the process can be traumatic, especially if you do not know how to start. For the best results with the least amount of trauma and disruption, you should work with an experienced law firm that concentrates in dissolutions and the complicated issues that accompany them.

Who should file first?

It does not matter who files first. The person who files first is called the “Petitioner.” The other person is the “Respondent.” Neither person has any advantage over the other just by virtue of filing first.

How long will the divorce take?

By law in California, a divorce takes effect six months from the date the other person is served the divorce papers. However, some divorces go on for years if unresolved issues remain. For your peace of mind, you should hire a competent attorney who can help prevent the divorce proceedings from dragging on.

Do I need grounds for divorce?

No. In “no fault” California, no one has to blame anyone else for the breakup of a marriage. Simply stating “irreconcilable differences” is adequate grounds for dissolution.

Do I really need a lawyer?

  • For all but the simplest cases, you really do need a lawyer. This is especially true if you and your spouse:
  • Have children
  • Have been married 10 years or more
  • Have real estate or property
  • Are self-employed
  • Have a pension plan
  • Require spousal support

How is child support determined and carried out?

California has mandatory guidelines for child support. The formula for calculating support payments is complicated and is not easily unraveled without an attorney. The formula considers such factors as the percentage of custodial time with each parent, parental income, taxes, deductions, and more.

How are child support payments enforced?

A private attorney or Child Support Services of Los Angeles County enforces the child support process. The parent who is responsible for making child support payments may have his or her wages garnished. This means the parent’s employer deducts payments from the paycheck and makes the payments directly to the other parent or to the Court Trustee who will distribute the money to the supported parent.

Is spousal support always awarded?

The short answer is “no.” The courts typically expect each spouse to become self-supporting. Spousal support payments are based on a complex set of factors including, but not limited to, the length of the marriage, ability of one spouse to pay, both parties’ ability to earn, and financial requirements of the other spouse. As with most things monetary, spousal payments can have significant tax implications for both parties.

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