MARITAL DISSOLUTION / DIVORCE ATTORNEY IN ORANGE COUNTY, CA
Marriage can be difficult, and unfortunately, not every couple can overcome the challenges their relationship faces. Divorce is a complex and emotionally taxing process of ending a marriage contract, and it is often more complex and tedious than divorcing spouses anticipate. If you expect to divorce in the near future, it is vital to have legal counsel you can trust to guide you through the difficult proceedings your case is likely to entail. Divorce is never easy, but the right attorney representing you can make the entire experience much easier to manage and more likely to result in a positive outcome.
Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, was founded, and continues to be managed by two attorneys, Stephane Quinn and David Dworakowski. Between them, they have over forty years of experience in family law, litigation, and other areas of the legal profession. Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, is a name you can trust when considering which family law attorney in Orange County you feel confident in representing you.
As we are a two-partner practice, we pride ourselves on providing a personal service to each and every one of our clients, however big or small their legal issues may be.
Why Do I Need an Orange County Divorce Attorney?
Divorce is, according to leading psychiatrists, one of the most emotional and stressful experiences a person can go through, only beaten by bereavement. As a local resident, it is therefore essential that you have a qualified and experienced divorce attorney in Orange County who is familiar with local family law, has a good working relationship with local judges, and who understands local rules, procedures and precedents as well as having a solid background working with other parties and opposing counsel.
While it may be technically possible to act as your own legal counsel in divorce, this isn’t advisable or likely to result in the outcome you hope to see. It’s understandable to have reservations about hiring an attorney when you already face long-term financial strain from your divorce, but the alternative could be much more challenging to handle. However, the right Orange County marital dissolution attorney can provide peace of mind navigating your divorce case.
We will assist you in a professional – and compassionate – way, in navigating the complexities of divorce from the issuance of the petition, through the entire legal process, and we will still be there by your side to ensure that you receive whatever you, our client, is entitled to receive in accordance with any court ruling.
OUR THREE PROMISES TO YOU:
- We will, as your attorney, do anything and everything we can to ensure that your legal issues are resolved fairly and favorably.
- We will work efficiently and intelligently and will always be mindful of your case and circumstances.
- We will always work hard to ensure that a speedy resolution is reached based on your terms.
No attorney can promise any specific outcome in any given case, but when you choose Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, to represent you in an Orange County dissolution case, you can expect compassionate and personalized legal counsel through every phase of your case. We’ll help you determine your best options for resolving your divorce, assist you in identifying areas of concern, and provide ongoing guidance and support as we work to develop a strategy for handling the complexities of your case. Our team has successfully overseen many past divorce cases on behalf of clients throughout the Orange County, CA, area, and we are ready to apply this experience to your case.
AS ORANGE COUNTY FAMILY LAWYERS, OUR OTHER AREA OF EXPERTISE INCLUDE:
- Child Custody & Visitation. Divorces between married parents will require a custody determination, and this is likely to be the most emotionally stressful aspect of a divorce. However, it’s also possible for unmarried parents to face complex custody determinations. Our team can assist you with child custody and visitation issues, whether they are components of divorce cases or standalone issues.
- Child Support / Modification. Any child custody determination will involve a child support agreement as well. The Orange County family court must ensure that a child’s basic living expenses are covered and that both parents equally contribute to addressing their children’s financial needs. We can guide our clients through initial custody and support determinations and modification proceedings when changes to a standing court order become necessary.
- Spousal Support / Modification. When divorcing spouses have very different financial situations, spousal support may come into play to ensure the lower-earning spouse has the financial assistance they need to maintain a suitable standard of living compared to what they had while married.
- Division of Assets. Property division in California divorce cases unfolds according to the state’s community property statute. It’s easy for property division to be hotly contested by both divorcing spouses. We can provide the legal counsel you need to approach this aspect of a divorce or separation with clarity and confidence.
- Restraining Orders. A restraining order is a family court order that prohibits an individual from coming into contact with another party. These orders are typically issued in response to domestic violence, and violation of a restraining order carries severe penalties.
- Domestic Violence. Thousands of people living in California experience domestic violence each year. We can help our clients secure legal protection from further abuse, and we represent those who have been falsely accused of committing domestic violence against others.
- Civil Harassment. Civil harassment cases typically revolve around domestic altercations between neighbors, employees, and other parties not related by family or household ties. We have assisted both victims and those accused of civil harassment to navigate their cases successfully in Orange County, CA.
- Prenuptial, Postnuptial & Cohabitation Agreements. Our firm has extensive experience in drafting contracts between private parties, specifically those pertaining to prenuptial and cohabitation agreements.
- Appeals & Writs. If you need to challenge a family court ruling in Orange County, it is vital to work with a lawyer who has a firm understanding of the appellate procedures that apply to your situation.
Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, strives to provide client-tailored legal representation in every case we accept. However, we know that no two divorce cases are alike and that everyone who goes through the dissolution process has unique needs and concerns.
What Does California Divorce Entail?
Divorce is much more than simply ending a marriage contract. It is also a formal legal process of determining ownership rights over the couple’s property and deciding custody and support for their minor children if they have any. As a result, your divorce could be more complex than you initially expected, and it’s vital to have legal representation you can trust to guide you through your dissolution proceedings as efficiently as possible. Some of the fundamental components of most dissolution cases in the Orange County, CA, family court system include property division, child custody determination, and spousal maintenance.
When it comes to property division, this aspect of divorce unfolds according to California’s community property law. Anything that qualifies as marital property shared by the divorcing spouses is subject to 50/50 division under this law. “Separate” property is anything a spouse owned before the marriage, inherited from family, or received as a gift during the marriage. In addition, some separate property would qualify as marital property if the other spouse helped to improve its value during the marriage.
Child custody is typically the most contentious aspect of any divorce between parents. If you have children and plan to divorce in California, you and your spouse must resolve custody and child support through the Orange County family court. While alternative dispute resolution can potentially help you settle many aspects of your divorce without any need for litigation, this does not apply to custody and support issues. A judge must rule on the matter, and they have the final say when it comes to what type of custody order would best suit your child’s needs and interests.
Spousal maintenance often comes into play when one spouse earns a substantially higher income than the other or when one spouse is entirely dependent on the other for financial support. Also known as alimony, spousal maintenance is paid monthly from one spouse to the other following divorce. The amount paid typically hinges on the difference between their respective financial situations, and the time that payments must continue typically reflects the length of time the marriage lasted.
Some divorces entail additional issues that are even more difficult to address, such as domestic violence. When a married spouse has been subjected to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse during their marriage, or when their spouse has harmed their children, presented a danger to the family due to substance abuse, or been convicted of violent crimes, these issues will undoubtedly have a strong bearing on the outcome of their divorce. If you have experienced any such issues in your marriage and are now preparing to divorce a potentially dangerous spouse, you need an Orange County marital dissolution attorney who can help you navigate the situation as safely and efficiently as possible.
Alternative Dispute Resolution for California Divorces
Contrary to widely held belief, resolving a divorce case in a heated courtroom battle is not always necessary. Divorce litigation is time-consuming, stressful, and expensive for both spouses. Many couples who choose to divorce in California opt for alternative dispute resolution to avoid the stress and expense of litigation. Collaborative divorce and divorce mediation can provide substantial relief when handling difficult divorce cases.
In collaborative divorce, you and your spouse would meet privately with your respective attorneys to negotiate a divorce settlement. As long as you are willing to compromise on various issues, it’s possible to reach more agreeable divorce terms than you could expect from an Orange County family court judge. Mediation is similar to collaborative divorce but involves a mediator helping to guide negotiations and keep conversations productive. The mediator helps the couple draft their divorce order.
It’s important to remember that while alternative dispute resolution offers several advantages over litigation, there are some issues that cannot be resolved privately. Specifically, divorcing parents cannot resolve custody or support for their children in alternative dispute resolution. They may draft a proposal for a parenting plan that includes their preferences, but a family court judge must review and approve it. The Orange County family court system is obligated to preserve the interests of any children the court’s rulings affect.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Divorce?
When married parents divorce and an Orange County family court judge must determine custody and support for their children, the judge must weigh several factors to determine what type of custody arrangement is most suitable for the couple’s children. Some of these factors are:
- Each spouse’s income and work schedule.
- Each spouse’s bonds with their children.
- Records of criminal convictions, especially those involving violent crimes, domestic violence, or child abuse.
- Each spouse’s age and overall health.
- Histories of substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions that could adversely affect parenting ability.
- The child’s unique needs, such as developmental delays, medical conditions, and disabilities.
- The child’s preferences if they can convey them to the court.
- Existing custody orders either parent holds from previous relationships.
- The living arrangements of each of the parents.
The judge will also examine any unique details in a custody determination to decide what custody arrangement would best suit the child’s needs and interests. Child custody determinations revolve around two forms of custody: legal custody, which can make significant decisions for a child, and physical custody, which pertains to the child’s residency and where they will spend their time. Judges typically strive for joint custody arrangements as long as both parents are fit, as children tend to thrive best when they have access to both of their parents. A joint custody arrangement can divide legal custody between the parents, but for one of the parents to have greater physical custody. In this situation, the other parent would likely owe child support to the parent with more physical custody to address the children’s everyday needs.
How Is Alimony Calculated?
If spousal maintenance or alimony comes into play in a divorce, the judge handling the case will use a specific formula to determine how much alimony must be paid each month. The judge will assess the total monthly income of each of the spouses minus necessary expenses. The typical formula is to take 40% of the income of the higher-earning spouse and subtract half of the income the lower-earning spouse makes. Therefore, if the spouse with the higher income takes home $10,000 each month, then 40% of that income is $4,000. If the spouse who makes less earns just $3,000 per month, 50% of this would be $1,500. Calculating alimony in this example would mean subtracting $1,500 from $4,000 for a support amount of $2,500 per month.
Alimony can fluctuate in many ways for many reasons. For example, if a spouse would typically be entitled to receive alimony intentionally squandered marital assets in the months prior to the divorce or lied to the court during dissolution proceedings, the judge is likely to consider this when calculating alimony. It’s also possible for a divorcing couple to have a prenuptial contract that specifically dictates alimony arrangements in the event of divorce. As long as the prenup is legally enforceable, this clause may guide the court’s decision regarding alimony.
Financial Disclosure in Divorce
One of the most critical and complex aspects of the marital dissolution process is financial disclosure. Both spouses must provide records of all their finances, including separate and marital property. The financial disclosure statements provided by the divorcing spouses have a significant bearing on various aspects of divorce, including property division, child support determination, and spousal maintenance arrangements.
Working closely with your Orange County marital dissolution attorney to complete the financial disclosure process correctly is imperative. If you attempt to hide assets to protect them from your divorce, you risk facing contempt of court and even criminal prosecution. In addition, if your spouse suspects that you have hidden assets, they will likely have their attorney investigate the matter by consulting expert witnesses such as forensic accountants. You could do the same if you suspect your spouse was untruthful when they detailed their personal finances.
If it is discovered that a divorcing spouse attempted to hide assets in a financial disclosure statement, the penalties for contempt of court can include fines and jail time. Their behavior will also sway the judge’s favor toward the other spouse. The at-fault spouse may lose a portion of spousal maintenance they would have otherwise qualified to receive and face additional scrutiny from the court throughout the rest of their proceedings. If the other spouse incurred more legal fees to expose their hidden assets, the judge would likely hold the at-fault spouse accountable for these expenses as well.
Important Information After You Finalize Your Divorce
It’s important to understand that finalizing your divorce does not mean you will never need to confront your ex in family court again. Life can present unexpected problems in many ways, and some unpredictable issues can influence a standing family court order. The modification process allows anyone beholden to an Orange County family court order to request reasonable changes to the order in light of recent events beyond their control.
If you believe you have grounds to petition for increased or decreased child support, an adjusted alimony obligation, or any other changes to your divorce order, you must file a petition for modification with the Orange County family court. This petition needs to include a clear description of the changes you seek and a detailed explanation as to why each change is both reasonable and necessary. For example, you could file a petition for a reduced child support obligation if you suffer a catastrophic injury and can no longer work, but you cannot quit your job and then claim you can’t afford child support anymore. An Orange County marital dissolution attorney is a great resource to consult if you are unsure whether recent events constitute valid grounds to petition for modification of your divorce decree.
FAQs About Divorce Laws in Orange County, CA
For all intent and purpose, yes. The term divorce is associated with fault-based proceedings to end a marriage. California, like most states, are no-fault states and the courts have adopted the dissolution terminology instead. However, both terms are used interchangeably in California to mean the legal termination of a marriage. So, whether you wish to call it divorce or prefer marital dissolution, the divorce attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, will make sure you are always well represented.
There is no preset timeline or schedule when it comes to getting divorced. Many factors may delay proceedings for months, such as the degree of animosity between the parties, whether there are many assets, and determine the character of the assets, whether the parties are cooperating, etc. If the parties are forthright in their disclosures of assets and debts, and they are willing to work together to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both of them, then the entire dissolution could happen without one or two court hearings. If, on the other hand, the dissolution is contentious, then it may take months, and even years before the case goes to trial. The divorce attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, understand that when getting divorced, you want it done as quickly and painlessly as possible, and as such, we encourage amicable settlement on our client’s terms. We also know that sometimes, the settlement is not easily obtained and trial, even if only the threat of trial, is necessary in order to reach your desired goals.
By far, the most frequent grounds for divorce in California are “irreconcilable differences.” California is a no-fault divorce state, and all a party must show in order to file for dissolution is a desire to end the marriage.
The first and most crucial step in getting divorced is arriving at the decision that you no longer wish to be married. Although this is a decision you must ultimately reach on your own, the divorce attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can arm you with all the necessary information to help you decide whether divorce is for you. Whether you have come to the conclusion that dissolution of your marriage is unavoidable, or whether you believe that dissolution of your marriage is something that you may wish to explore, meeting with the divorce attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, will help you understand and weigh your options.
You may absolutely get divorced without an attorney. Representing yourself means you will be proceeding in “pro per,” meaning that you will be acting on your own behalf. Keep in mind, however, that the law, especially divorce law, is complicated and nuanced. Moreover, getting a divorce is a very emotional time, and these emotions will frequently cloud your judgment, and will ultimately cost you more than a proper attorney would. So, while you have the right to represent yourself, you will likely be at a disadvantage by doing so, especially if your spouse is represented by counsel. There is a lot of truth in the old saying that “he who represents himself has a fool for a client.” And this even applies to lawyers.
The division of assets may be as simple as splitting the community pie in half, with each party walking away with their equal share, or it may require extensive discovery, investigation, complex calculations, tracing, etc. This is especially true in high net worth divorces. There are many factors to consider when dividing assets during the dissolution of marriage process. What are the separate assets versus the community property assets? When were the assets acquired? How were they acquired? What were the surrounding circumstances? Is there a prenuptial agreement? If you have questions about the division of the assets in your case, the divorce attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can help you not only identify your community property share, but also maximize your share of the pie.
The only person who can stop you from getting divorced is you. Regardless of whether your spouse consents to the dissolution, you have the right to end the marriage whenever you wish to do so. Keep in mind, however, that while your soon-to-be ex cannot stop you from dissolving the marriage, he or she can make the process very unpleasant. The divorce lawyers at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, have the necessary knowledge and experience to shield you from much of this unpleasantness, including obtaining restraining orders that will provide safety and peace of mind.
You can only be legally divorced once a judge has ruled on a petition to dissolve your marriage. No amount of time separated from your spouse will lead to you being divorced. In the same way that steps had to be taken in order to get married, such as getting a license and participating in some type of ceremony, steps must be taken by at least one of the spouses in order for the marriage to end.
Technically, a spouse may contest a divorce. For practical purposes, however, there is little point fighting to save a marriage in court. A spouse who no longer wishes to be married has a right to get divorced, and the courts will ultimately grant any dissolution request. If you wish to “fight to save your marriage,” you should do so without any reliance on the courts helping you out. The judge is not a therapist and will not counsel you or your spouse, nor will the court weigh in on whether the couple should get a divorce or not. Whether you are the spouse wanting to get out of a marriage, or the spouse seeking to save the marriage, the divorce attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, are here to help you get the answers to your questions.
Once dissolution papers have been signed, filed, and signed by a judge, you are officially divorced, provided that six months have passed since the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage. This statutory six-month cooling-off period in California is there in order to give the parties a chance to change their minds about getting divorced. Once a divorce decree is issued, it is final. Should the parties change their minds after the divorce is final, there is no way to reverse the divorce and they will have to marry anew, with no credit for the years they were previously married.
If your spouse can show you were properly served and given the opportunity to respond, yet failed to do so, the court will grant your spouse a divorce by default. Unless there are no children and no assets, it is probably not in your best interest to ignore a summons and petition for dissolution. The divorce lawyers at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can advise you on the best course of action after being served with dissolution papers. And perhaps, in very rare instances, you may be able to simply ignore the entire episode and let your spouse take the necessary steps to end the marriage.
Absolutely! A spouse may represent him or herself in divorce court. The question is whether you should do so. Divorce law is complicated and nuanced. And getting divorce is emotionally taxing, and your judgment will be skewed. Ultimately representing yourself may cost you more than hiring the proper attorney to represent your interests. There is a lot of truth in the old saying that “he who represents himself has a fool for a client.” And this even applies to lawyers.
Very few divorces go to trial, and in fact, with the right attorneys representing both parties, consensus and compromise is frequently possible and a dissolution may happen without the parties even going to court. The divorce attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, strive for amicable dissolution through settlement whenever possible. It saves time, heartache, and money! This being said, we will not shy away from a fight to ensure you get everything you are entitled to, and more.
Find the Legal Counsel You Need Today
Divorce could be one of the most challenging experiences of your life in many ways, and the outcome of your dissolution could potentially influence the next several years or the rest of your life. It’s understandable to have many questions and concerns about how this process might unfold for you, and the best resource to consult is an experienced Orange County divorce attorney. The sooner you meet with an attorney to discuss your case, the more prepared and confident you can be as you confront the difficult proceedings ahead of you.
Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, has the skills, experience, and legal resources necessary to guide our clients to the best possible outcomes in the most challenging divorce cases. If you are ready to discuss your situation with an experienced and reliable Orange County marital dissolution lawyer, contact us today to schedule your consultation with our team.