Orange County Divorce Attorney

Orange County Divorce Attorney



If you are going through a divorce in Orange County, California, it is important to have a skilled and experienced family lawyer on your side. The Orange County divorce attorneys at O’Leary & Shenasan Law work together on every case using a collaborative method to provide each client with the personalized attention and the customized approach every case deserves. Whether you are seeking an uncontested divorce, an alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, or if litigation inside a courtroom becomes necessary, our legal team will meet collectively each week to discuss and determine the best strategy to help guide our clients through the often-complex divorce process. With so much at stake in a divorce, it is important to have an Orange County divorce lawyer that can help you navigate the difficult process, protect your rights and interests, and bring closure to your divorce in a timely and effective way.

At O’Leary & Shenasan Law, we have a team of experienced California divorce lawyers that have over twenty years of combined experience exclusively dedicated to family law matters in Orange County and throughout Southern California. We understand the complexities and sensitivities of difficult divorce cases and strive to form strong bonds with our clients in order to carefully apply the law to each individual case to achieve an ideal resolution that will positively impact their family’s future. If you are seeking assistance with an uncontested divorce, or need aggressive representation in court, we can help.

Understanding the Grounds for Divorce in California

California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that a spouse does not need to prove that the other spouse did something wrong to obtain a divorce. In California, there are two main grounds for divorce:

  • Irreconcilable Differences. This is the most common ground for divorce in California. It means that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, and there is no hope of reconciliation. The court does not require proof of fault or wrongdoing on the part of either spouse to grant a divorce on this ground.
  • Incurable Insanity. This is a much less common ground for divorce in California. It requires proof that one spouse is incurably insane and has been so for a period of at least five years before the filing of the divorce petition. The court will typically appoint a psychiatrist or psychologist to evaluate the allegedly insane spouse. They will determine if this ground is applicable.

Although California is a no-fault divorce state, fault may be relevant when determining spousal support or property division. An experienced Orange County divorce lawyer at O’Leary & Shenasan Law will be able to advise you if this applies to your individual situation.

Step-by-Step Divorce Process in Orange County CA

The divorce process in California involves several steps, including:

  • Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. One spouse files a petition with the court to start the divorce process. The other spouse must be served with the petition and given an opportunity to respond.
  • Respondents. The responding spouse has 30 days to file a response to the petition. The response may include a counter-petition if the responding spouse has any additional requests.
  • Temporary Orders. Either spouse can request temporary orders for child support, spousal support, child custody, and visitation while the divorce is pending.
  • Financial Disclosures. Both spouses must provide financial information and documentation to each other. This includes information on assets, debts, income, and expenses.
  • Negotiations. The spouses and their attorneys negotiate the terms of the divorce settlement. If an agreement is reached, it is put in writing and submitted to the court for approval.
  • Mediation. If the spouses are unable to reach an agreement, they may choose to attend mediation. A neutral third party assists the spouses in negotiating a settlement.
  • Trial. If mediation is unsuccessful, the case goes to trial. The judge will hear evidence and make decisions on unresolved issues, such as property division, child custody, and spousal support.
  • Final Judgment. Once all issues are resolved, the court issues a final judgment. The judgment includes the terms of the divorce settlement. It may also be incorporated into a marital settlement agreement.

Overall, the length of the divorce process in California varies depending on:

  • The complexity of the case
  • The willingness of the spouses to cooperate
  • The court’s schedule

Temporary Orders During the Orange County Divorce Process

During the Orange County divorce process, either spouse can request temporary orders from the court. These can address urgent issues that need to be resolved while the divorce is pending. Temporary orders can be requested for a variety of issues, including:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Payment of bills

To obtain temporary orders, the spouse must file a motion with the court requesting the orders. The court will hold a hearing where both parties can present evidence and arguments. The court will then decide on the temporary orders. The temporary orders will remain in effect until the final judgment of the divorce is issued, unless the court modifies or terminates them earlier.

It is important to note that temporary orders are not necessarily indicative of the final outcome of the divorce. They can also be modified or terminated as circumstances change. However, they can provide important stability and structure during the divorce process. An experienced Orange County divorce attorney can help you navigate the process of requesting and obtaining temporary orders.

How to Avoid Going to Court for a CA Divorce

Going to court during the divorce process can put an emotional strain on you and your family. There are several ways to avoid going to court for a divorce in California, including:

  • Mediation. A mediator can help couples work through their issues and come to an agreement on all aspects of the divorce, including property division, child custody, and support. Mediation is a less formal and less expensive alternative to going to court.
  • Collaborative Divorce. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse has their own attorney, and they work together to reach an agreement outside of court. This process involves a series of meetings between the parties and their attorneys.
  • Uncontested Divorce. If both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce, they can file an uncontested divorce. This allows the couple to skip the court process. It can also be much faster and less expensive.
  • Legal Separation. A legal separation allows a couple to live apart but remain legally married. This can be a good option for couples who are not ready to divorce but need some space to work through their issues.

It is important to note that not all divorces can be resolved outside of court. In some cases, going to court may be necessary to protect your rights and interests. A skilled family law attorney can help you determine the right approach for your situation.

The Orange County Divorce Discovery Process

The discovery process is an important part of any legal proceeding, including divorce cases in Orange County, California. It is the process by which parties to a legal dispute gather and exchange information, documents, and evidence that are relevant to the case. In a divorce case, discovery can be used to:

  • Uncover financial assets and liabilities.
  • Gather evidence related to child custody.
  • Obtain any relevant information that may be needed to make decisions about the divorce.

The discovery process in Orange County typically involves several steps:

  • Initial Disclosures. Both parties are required to provide each other with certain basic information about their income, expenses, assets, and debts. This must be done within a specific timeframe after the divorce case is filed.
  • Interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions that one party sends to the other party. These must be answered in writing under oath. Interrogatories can be used to obtain information about the other party’s income, expenses, assets, and debts, as well as any other relevant information.
  • Requests for Production. Requests for production are written requests for documents and other tangible items that one party sends to the other. These requests can be used to obtain copies of financial documents. Such documents include tax returns, bank statements, and investment account statements.
  • Depositions. Depositions are oral statements made under oath, usually given in the presence of a court reporter. Depositions can be used to obtain testimony from the other party or from witnesses about the facts of the case.
  • Subpoenas. Subpoenas are court orders that require a third party to produce documents or testify in a deposition. Subpoenas can be used to obtain information from banks, employers, and other third parties.

The discovery process can be time-consuming and expensive. However, it is an important part of any divorce case. It allows both parties to gather the information they need to make informed decisions about property division, child custody, and other issues that arise during a divorce. A skilled family law attorney can help guide you through the discovery process. They can ensure that you obtain all the information you need to complete the process successfully.

​Property Division in an Orange County Divorce

When dealing with property division in an Orange County divorce, there is a significant aspect that must be considered. California is a community property state, which means that all marital assets and debts are generally split 50/50 between the parties. This applies regardless of who acquired them or whose name is on the title.

However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. For instance, property that was acquired before the marriage or after the separation is generally considered separate property. It is not subject to division. Inheritances and gifts to one spouse during the marriage are also usually considered separate property.

When dividing property, it is crucial to get an accurate valuation of the assets, which can include:

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Investments
  • Retirement accounts
  • Personal property
  • Business interests

Each party may need to hire an appraiser or other experts to determine the value of the property.

Additionally, if the parties cannot agree on how to divide their property, the court will step in to make the determination. The court will consider various factors, such as the:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Age, health, and earning capacity of each spouse
  • Contributions made by each spouse to the acquisition of community property
  • Debts and liabilities of each spouse
  • Tax consequences of the property division
  • Any existing prenuptial or postnuptial agreements

Overall, property division in an Orange County, California, divorce can be difficult and disorienting. It is therefore crucial to have a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney to help guide you through the process.

Orange County Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are legal documents. They outline the financial rights and obligations of each spouse in the event of a divorce or legal separation. These agreements can be helpful in protecting assets and reducing the potential for disputes during a divorce.

In Orange County, California, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are recognized as legally binding. However, they must be entered into voluntarily and with full disclosure of assets and liabilities. Here are some important things to know about prenuptial and postnuptial agreements in Orange County:

  • Prenuptial agreements are entered into before marriage, while postnuptial agreements are entered into after marriage.
  • Both parties must enter into the agreement voluntarily and with full disclosure of assets and liabilities. If one party is found to have coerced the other into signing the agreement, it may be invalidated.
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can cover a variety of financial matters. These include the division of property, spousal support, and inheritance rights.
  • In California, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements cannot waive a party’s right to child support.
  • To be considered valid, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties. It is highly recommended that both parties have their own attorneys to review and negotiate the terms of the agreement.

If you are considering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in Orange County, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney. They can help you draft and review these documents.

California Child Support

Child support is the money paid by one parent to the other for the support of their child(ren) after a divorce or separation. It is typically paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. It is intended to help cover the costs of the child’s living expenses, such as housing, food, clothing, and education.

Child support in California is determined based on a formula known as the “Guideline Calculation.” This formula considers several factors, including:

  • The income of both parents
  • The amount of time the child spends with each parent
  • Any tax deductions or credits available to either parent

Until they reach the age of 18, or 19 if the child is still in high school, parents in California are required by law to financially support their children. In some cases, such as if the child has a disability or medical condition, child support may be required beyond the age of 18 or 19.

Parents in California may also be required to provide health insurance for their child(ren) as part of their child support obligations. Additionally, parents may be required to contribute to childcare expenses or other expenses related to the child’s care.

If the parents cannot agree on the amount of child support, the court will make a determination based on the factors mentioned above. It is important to note that the court’s determination is not necessarily final. Either parent may petition the court for a modification of the child support order if there is a significant change in circumstances. This could involve a change in income or a change in the child’s living arrangements.

Child Visitation in Orange County

Child visitation in Orange County refers to the time that a non-custodial parent spends with their child after a divorce or separation. It is a crucial aspect of a child’s well-being and development, as spending time with both parents is important for their emotional and psychological health. In California, the court encourages both parents to maintain a healthy and ongoing relationship with their children. Visitation schedules are designed to facilitate this.

The process of establishing a child visitation schedule in Orange County typically involves the following steps:

  • Filing a Petition. The non-custodial parent can file a petition with the court to establish a visitation schedule. The petition should include details such as the parent’s relationship with the child, the desired visitation schedule, and any relevant information about the child’s needs.
  • Before the court hearing, the parents may be required to attend mediation. There, they will try to come to an agreement about the visitation schedule. A trained mediator will facilitate the discussion and help the parents reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
  • Court Hearing. If the parents are unable to agree on a visitation schedule, the court will hold a hearing to determine the schedule. The court will consider various factors, such as the child’s age, health, and education. They will also examine the parents’ work schedules and look for any history of abuse or neglect.
  • Implementation of the Schedule. Once the visitation schedule is established, it becomes a court order, and both parents must adhere to it. The non-custodial parent may need to coordinate with the custodial parent to arrange for pick-ups and drop-offs. They must also communicate any changes to the schedule.

The court’s priority in child visitation cases is the best interests of the child. As such, the court may modify the visitation schedule if it is determined that a change would be in the child’s best interests. Additionally, if one parent violates the visitation order, the other parent may file a motion with the court to enforce the order.

FAQs About Orange County, CA Divorce Laws

How much does a Newport Beach divorce lawyer cost?

Some divorce attorneys in Newport Beach charge an hourly fee. This may be anywhere from $200 to $500 or more. Others may charge a fixed rate for some services, including submitting a divorce petition or creating a settlement agreement. A Newport Beach divorce may incur other expenses in addition to the attorney’s fees. These include court filing fees, mediation fees, and expert witness fees.

How long does it take to get a divorce in California if both parties agree?

Assuming that all the necessary paperwork has been filed correctly, and there are no issues that require litigation, the divorce can be finalized after the six-month waiting period. This means that the quickest a divorce can be completed in California is six months and one day from the date of service. However, it is important to note that even in uncontested divorces, there can be unexpected delays and issues that arise. It is always wise to consult with an experienced Orange County divorce attorney. They can ensure that the divorce process is completed smoothly and efficiently.

How is property divided in a California divorce?

California is a community property state. This means that all property and debts acquired during the marriage are generally considered community property. They are therefore divided equally between the spouses. However, there are many exceptions to this rule. Often, the division of property can be a complex issue in a divorce.

Can I get a divorce without going to court in California?

Yes, it is possible to get a divorce without going to court in California. This can be done through alternative dispute resolution methods such as divorce mediation or a collaborative divorce. However, if the divorce is contested, it may still be necessary to go to court to resolve certain issues.

Can child support be waived or reduced if the parents share custody equally?

No, child support cannot be waived or reduced if the parents share custody equally. However, the amount of child support may be reduced if one parent has a significantly lower income than the other. A reduction in child support will require a court petition. There must also be solid justification for the reduction, such as a loss of employment.

How long does child support last?

Child support in California typically lasts until the child turns 18. However, if the child is 18, and has not yet graduated from high school, child support must continue until graduation. Child support can be extended if the child has special needs. Consulting a family law attorney can help clarify your situation.

Contact An Orange County Divorce Attorney Today

Whether you choose divorce mediation or traditional litigation to facilitate your divorce, our Orange County divorce attorneys at O’Leary & Shenasan Law are here to help. Our firm has extensive experience and a deep commitment to client service. We can help you navigate the divorce process and achieve the most beneficial outcome for you and your children. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can assist with your divorce case.

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