Contested & Uncontested Divorces in California
Serving Orange County, Los Angeles, San Bernardino & Beyond
Although the dissolution of a marriage is something most people would prefer to avoid, the divorce process offers some couples and their children a fresh opportunity to build a happy and healthy home.
At Moshtael Family Law Orange County, our attorneys are dedicated to pursuing efficient divorce solutions to mitigate the cost and emotional toll of a high-conflict divorce that generates unnecessary expense, stress, and barriers to effective co-parenting.
Although certain issues in your divorce might need to be aggressively litigated, we will try to resolve as many issues as we can through efficient and effective negotiation to protect the wealth built during your marital relationship and to protect your children from harmful animosity. Our lawyers seek win-win solutions when possible because high conflict contentious divorces generally mean a lose-lose proposition.
Turn to a Team With an In-House CPA
Moshtael Family Law is especially suited to handle all of the issues mentioned above, since we offer the services of an in-house CPA. This means that the team managing your divorce case will include a dedicated financial professional who can:
- Handle the complex financial aspects of your divorce
- Offer high-level analysis & detail-oriented focus regarding asset division, support, business valuation, etc.
- Conduct preliminary analysis of income for alimony, child support, etc.
- Provide tax and legal advice under the same roof
- Eliminate the need to pay separate retainers for a forensic accountant
- Evaluate your case & provide a solid case plan at the very start
Is divorce a serious consideration for you? Contact us online or call (714) 909-2561 today to discuss your options with the top divorce team in Orange County.
Legal Representation for Contested Divorces
While contested divorces entail resolving disagreements, animosity, and conflict do not have to rule the day. High conflict divorces are emotionally and financially challenging, so our law firm takes a problem-solving approach to settle contentious issues that leave our clients in the best possible position once a judgment of divorce has been entered. Although an uncontested divorce will be a better option for most people, an array of complex issues can make this type of simple divorce process unrealistic.
Certain issues tend to make a divorce more complex and contentious, such as:
- High net worth divorce
- Child custody timeshare disputes
- Contested child support
- Contested spousal support (spousal maintenance, alimony)
- Custody cases involving parental fitness issues (e.g. substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse)
- Division of interest in a family business or professional practice
Uncontested Divorces in Orange County, CA
If you or your spouse agree on all issues relevant to your case, such as division of community property and debts, spousal support, child custody/visitation, and child support, your divorce might be able to proceed as an uncontested divorce. While many California divorces are uncontested, this approach is less appropriate when you have children, a marriage of long duration, or a sizeable marital estate.
Once the responding party receives the summons and petition for divorce, he or she has thirty days to respond. If no response is filed, the divorce can proceed on a default basis. The responding party should file a response even if a settlement of all issues is being discussed. If you and your spouse do reach an agreement on all issues, these arrangements can be incorporated into a marital settlement agreement (MSA) and submitted to the court with documents necessary to obtain a judgment. In this situation, your MSA will contain the terms and conditions of your divorce.
Whether you need full scale representation in an uncontested divorce will depend on the complexity of your situation and the specific facts. If you have been married for many years or have children, you should probably retain a lawyer to ensure you understand your legal rights, potential future issues, and the consequences of not litigating your divorce.
IMPORTANT: At the very least, you should never agree to an uncontested divorce without obtaining legal advice to protect your interests. An attorney also can prevent unintended consequences, mistakes, and avoidable frustration by advising you of your rights, reviewing the terms of the MSA, and properly drafting the MSA and judgment paperwork.
Allegations a Spouse is Hiding or Diverting Marital Assets or Inappropriately Running Up Marital Debts
While hiding or diverting marital assets in a divorce does not necessarily mean you must navigate a “war zone environment,” these issues can be complicated and/or emotionally charged. Our experienced Orange County marital dissolution attorneys guide our clients past emotional roadblocks that can derail the divorce process to resolve difficult issues. This approach promotes stable and permanent divorce solutions to prevent repeated post-judgment trips back to the courthouse to pursue modification or enforcement of the judgment.
Contact Moshtael Family Law online or call (714) 909-2561 to schedule your free case consultation today.
California Divorce FAQ
How long does a divorce take in California?
Every divorce is different, but California law imposes a six-month waiting period from the time of filing for a divorce to be final. The actual duration of your divorce process will depend on the issues involved and the extent to which you and your spouse can reach agreements on these issues.
Uncontested divorces in California can be finalized in as little as six months. These are cases where you and your spouse have no significant property issues, no children, and no alimony issues.
Contested divorces in California could take a year or longer to be finalized. These are cases where the divorce involves complex issues or a high degree of conflict, such as a contentious high-net-worth divorce or a high conflict custody dispute.
Should I wait to file for divorce until I determine if I can reach an agreement with my spouse?
The best practice is to file for divorce even if you are discussing a global settlement of all issues. If the petition for divorce is filed and served on your spouse, automatic temporary restraining orders (ATROS) take effect. These orders provide protection if your spouse attempts to start liquidating bank accounts or selling off property to insiders in sham transactions. ATROS also prohibit the other party from taking your child and moving to another state without your consent or a court order granting permission.
How do I pay for my divorce if I’m a stay-at-home parent or have limited income?
We represent many parties who focus their efforts during their marriage on taking care of their home and children. In other cases, our clients make substantially less than their marital partner because of efforts to support their spouse’s education and career. Our attorneys routinely seek an advance of legal fees from the other party when representing the lower wage earner.
California law empowers a judge to order the higher earning spouse to make advances toward an economically disadvantaged spouse’s attorney fees. The court also can order that some or all the lower earning spouse’s attorney fees be paid by the other party.
When we are retained to represent a spouse in this situation, we routinely file for a Request for Order (RFO) hearing where we can pursue “pendente lite” (interim) orders regarding relevant issues like attorney fee advances, spousal support, child custody/visitation, temporary possession of the family residence, and child support.
Can I pull my kids out of school if I decide to move out of the family home?
Parents should never pull their children out of school or the family home without a written agreement with the other party or a judge’s order. Courts value stability and try to mitigate the impact of the enormous changes that affect children during the divorce process. If you unilaterally remove your children from the family home or their school without the other parent’s consent or permission from the judge, you will likely be ordered to return the children if the other parent challenges your decision. Further, courts view this type of action very negatively, so it could damage your position when seeking parenting time.
Can I move out of the family home if things have become tense and uncomfortable?
While it might be necessary to move out to protect yourself from domestic violence or false allegations of abuse, there are risks associated with taking this step. If you do not obtain temporary custody or visitation orders from the court or a written agreement with the other parent, your access to your children might become subject to the whim of an uncooperative spouse. Further, your lack of contact after moving out might be creatively interpreted by the other spouse as “disinterest.” The best option is to speak with an experienced Orange County divorce lawyer about your specific situation, available options, and the potential consequences of vacating the family home.
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