San Diego Divorce Attorney
Working to Make the Divorce Process Easier
When couples make the decision to divorce, they are rarely prepared for the complexity of ending a marriage and the magnitude of emotions that surround the divorce process. At Embry Family Law P.C., our divorce lawyer in San Diego understands that taking the next step can be frightening. We are here to advocate for you and guide you forward.
Effective Representation for Every Situation
No two divorce cases are ever the same. Our San Diego divorce attorney takes the time to listen to your story and to craft a plan tailored to your situation. We take a client-centered approach, advocate for our clients, and guide them through the process with care and compassion.
We guide clients through areas of specific concern, including:
- High net worth divorces – We understand the complexities and intricacies of asset division and reputation protection for couples with high net worth. We take the necessary precautions to maintain privacy and preserve public reputations.
- Military divorces – Specific processes are in place to help members of the military navigate the divorce process. We are experienced in military divorces, understand the intricacies involved in military divorce and pension issues, and can help you get a “stay of proceedings” under the Civil Relief Act.
- Same-sex marriage and divorce – Now that same-sex marriage is legal at the federal level, same-sex couples may find themselves requiring divorce representation. Issues related to community property can be complex, as couples may have been together for many years before they got married, acquiring property and investments over the years.
We understand the long-term effects divorce can have on your life. The divorce process affects every aspect, including your home, finances, friendships, insurance, and more. We ask you to share all the information related to your divorce so that we can develop an effective strategy to help you achieve your goals and minimize the negative impact on your life.
Grounds for Divorce in California
California is an exclusively no-fault divorce state. This means that fault options are not available for a spouse to use when filing for divorce in California. Many states include faults such as adultery, abuse, abandonment, etc. as options for a spouse to use when making a divorce case. However, for a couple to file for divorce in California, the courts simply need to hear that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”.
One other ground for divorce in California is if one spouse is “mentally incapacitated”. If this is the case, the sane spouse can file for divorce using this reason. However, this method can be more complicated since there is a burden of proof naturally associated with it. As a result, no-fault divorce is much more common.
California Divorce Process
The following chronology gives a general idea of how the average divorce process proceeds. Your divorce may be a little different because of specific issues between you and your spouse.
- To start off the divorce, one of the spouses gets a lawyer, who writes up a Petition, a legal document that officially says the spouse wants a divorce (and sets forth certain statistical information.)
- The lawyer files the Petition with the court.
- The lawyer makes sure that the Petition is served on the other spouse together with a Summons that requires that spouse’s response.
- The served spouse has to answer within a certain time (30 days after service). The answer (also called a response) says whether or not the served spouse agrees with the petition. If he or she doesn’t answer the petition by filing a Response, then the court assumes that he or she agrees with the petition and does not want to litigate the issues. The Response indicates how the served spouse would prefer to deal with the divorce issues.
- The couple exchanges documents and information on issues such as property and income. By examining this information, the couple and the court can decide how to divide up property and how to deal with child support and spousal support (also called alimony).
- Sometimes, the couple can voluntarily resolve all their issues through mediation or settlement.
- If a settlement is reached, the settlement agreement is prepared and submitted to a judge for signature. If the agreement is reached orally in court, the parties will be asked “on the record” in court whether each party understands and chooses to make the agreement legally binding. The written settlement agreement shows the specific terms of what the couple agreed to. Once signed by the judge, it becomes part of the Judgment of Dissolution (also called a divorce decree).
- If no Response is filed and there is no settlement agreement, then a default is taken against the non-answering spouse. A proposed Judgment is sent to the judge for review. Typically, an informal hearing is scheduled where the judge will ask a few basic factual questions before approving the Judgment.
- If the judge approves the agreement or the proposed judgment, he or she gives the couple a Judgment of Dissolution that shows the terms of how the issues are being resolved.
- If a Response has been filed and the couple does not reach an agreement, the case will go to trial.
- At trial, attorneys present evidence and arguments for each side, and the judge decides the unresolved issues. Once the judge has reached his or her decision, the judge grants the divorce.
- Either or both spouses can appeal a judge’s decision to a higher court. But it’s unusual for an appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision. Also, remember that settlements usually cannot be appealed if both spouses agree to their terms.
California Divorce FAQs
Is there a waiting period after filing for divorce?
Yes, a couple must wait a mandatory six months after filing for divorce before the court is able to make an official decree.
Are there any residency requirements to file for divorce?
Yes, at least one of the spouses must have state residency for six months or more before the couple is eligible to file for divorce. Additionally, the spouse must have residency in the filing county for at least three months.
Does California have a process for legal separation?
Yes, California does offer the option of legal separation. Learn more.
What’s the difference between a divorce and an annulment?
Annulments are granted when the court decides that a marriage is invalid, either due to bigamy, the couple being under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the marriage took place, or any number of reasons. While a divorce ends a legally valid marriage, an annulment treats the marriage as if it never happened in the first place.
Unlike divorce, there is no required length of time for residency. You also do not need to be living in California to file for annulment in California.
Reliable Legal Counsel
The entire team at Embry Family Law P.C. is here to help you through this difficult time. We help our clients see the future – not just the struggles they are facing now – so that they can make the right decisions for themselves and their families during a difficult time of transition. Our San Diego divorce attorney can help you find a resolution that suits your needs.