Archive for the ‘ Divorce ’ Category

When Domestic Violence Affects Custody In California

Posted on: August 19, 2019 by in Child Custody, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Family Law
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If you have a domestic violence case, you might be wondering how it will affect your child custody right if you live in California. Is there a possibility you could receive less child custody because of the charge? That is why you should consult with a Cerritos divorce attorney so that you’re not leaving anything to chance.

It’s The Judge’s discretion 

According to California Courts, it is up to the judge to decide if domestic violence is an issue with the ongoing family case. If it is an issue, there are some rules that the judge must abide by when determining the custody of the child. There are two instances where the judge could treat the case as a domestic violence charge.

The first instance is when you’ve been convicted of a domestic violence charge in the last five years. The second instance is when the court determined that you committed domestic violence against the other parent or the child.

In case the judge determines that it is a domestic violence case, it will be impossible for you to be legally granted joint custody. You might get visitation rights depending on the circumstances of the case. You could be granted custodian rights by the judge if you’re able to prove:

  • That having joint or full custody is in your child’s best interest
  • You’ve successfully completed a 52-week batterer intervention program
  • Comply with the terms of the probation or parole
  • Comply with the rules of the restraining order
  • Successfully completed a court-ordered parenting program
  • Successfully completed a court-ordered substance abuse program

In addition to meeting the above mentioned requirements, you’re expected to refrain from committing future acts of domestic violence.

Your state might not have the presumption of domestic violence built in the statute. This because domestic violence could impact the decision of child custody based on moral presumptions. There are not a lot of judges who will be willing to give custody to a parent who has been violent to the partner or child.

Domestic Violence Offenders Will NOT Get Primary Custody

If there is a history of domestic violence, there will be a “moral presumption” that the abuser should not be given the right to be the primary caregiver of the child. This could also be the case if the violence is not directed towards the child but occurs when the child is present. The court will still be reluctant because of the violence the child is exposed to and might grow up with issues as well.

The domestic violence charge could also have an impact on determining the child custody of victims. A good example is when you’ve been divorced with your spouse for more than two years and you’ve found a new lover. You start living together. Your spouse temper flares and you start getting abused in front of the children. In such a situation, you’re not only a victim but also a parent. Your ex could file a petition to obtain custody of the children if they come to learn of such a predicament. This will be filed on the basis that you’re unable to protect the children from third parties.

Even though domestic violence should never be taken lightly, there are some parents that can fabricate details in order to have an advantage on the child custody hearings. In such a situation, the parent will seek a restraining order because of the domestic violence accusation.

A temporary restraining order will require a much shorter notice given the urgency of the case. The accused might have time to appear in court in order to defend himself or herself. A default order will then be awarded to the parent because the accused party will have failed to respond to the allegations in time.

It doesn’t matter if the state you live in has already adopted the domestic violence presumption, a domestic violence case will definitely affect the child custody dispute. There is a possibility that strong bonds could be formed by the child to the abusive parent as a survival technique. This kind of bond is usually referred to as Stockholm Syndrome which is described as a powerful connection that the oppressed develops for the oppressor.

The negative effects of children witnessing domestic violence are not likely to disappear quickly especially if they’re constantly exposed. According to statistics, children who come from homes where there is domestic abuse are more at risk of health problems when they become adults.

There is a common myth that non-abusive parents can’t lose custody. This is not always true, especially if the accused has a compelling case. The victim might be suffering from post-traumatic stress and might not present themselves well in court. The problem could be compounded when there is no proper legal counsel. This could lead to loss of custody to the abusive parent.

Definition of Domestic Violence in California

According to the laws of California, a person could be accused of domestic violence if he or she acted recklessly or intentionally caused bodily or sexually assaulted the partner. It could also apply in situations where the victim feels that physical harm is imminent. Domestic violence may include:

  • Hitting or striking
  • Threatening
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Destruction of personal property

According to California law, it is presumed that the abuser should not have custody of the children if there is enough evidence to show domestic abuse. Even though it might not interfere with visitation, getting custody is a different ballgame. The accused should take classes on what is presumed to be the root of the problem before thinking about filing for custody. There is no guarantee that the custody will go in their favor even after taking the recommended classes.

False accusations are rare but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If you ever find yourself in a predicament, you will need an experienced family attorney to help with your case. You can reach out to the Law Offices of Paul J. Duron if you’re looking for experienced attorneys to help out with your case. Call us today to book an appointment.

Who Gets Custody If the Parents Are Unmarried?

Posted on: July 20, 2019 by in Child Custody, Divorce, Family Law
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Not all parents will be married when they have a child. There are occasions when getting pregnant is not enough motivation to walk down the aisle. The discussions about child custody can get very complicated when the parents are unmarried. That is why it is important that you look for a Norwalk divorce lawyer if you ever find yourself in such a situation. Have you ever wondered what would happen to your kids if you split up with your spouse when you’re not married?

There are legal implications to such a scenario and who gets the children will depend on a couple of factors. Is there a possibility that both parents could have an equal chance of having custody over the children? There is no clear answer to this question as it will depend on the circumstances of the case.

Fathers Establishing Paternity

As a father, you might be required to establish paternity of the children. From a general perspective, a father and a mother will share equal rights when it comes to child custody unless there is an issue with domestic violence. A father will have to go through a few extra steps in order to get full parental rights. The process of identifying a child’s legal mother is straightforward with no complications.

Fathers don’t give birth and there is a chance that the woman might have been intimate with someone else while still cohabiting with the alleged father of the children. As a result, there could be questions raised if the man is truly the biological father of the children.

Why Establishing Paternity is Necessary

A mother could make it harder for the man to gain child custody if the paternity is in question. The man might not be granted custody if he is not the biological father of the children. A man could also use it as an excuse to avoid paying child support if the paternity is unclear.

Establishing Paternity in California

There are two distinct ways of establishing paternity in California and this through court order or the declaration of paternity.

Declaration of Paternity

In order to establish paternity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an argument or a fight. If both the parents are sure that the man is the father, they can sign a Voluntary Declaration. The form is usually signed at the hospital when the child is born. The father will be presumed to be the biological father of the child if both parties agree on the fact.

Genetic Testing

A genetic test might be ordered by the court if there are disagreements between the two parents. The court might require that the father go through a genetic test if:

He doesn’t have a Declaration of Paternity

Either of the parents has requested a visitation order, child custody, and child support.

A man can also decide to take a DNA test just to confirm he is the biological father of the child.

Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex couples are also not obliged to be married in order to have children together. It will be necessary for one of the parents to petition the court in establishing that they are the lawful parents of the child. This will mean that the couple has to establish they intend to be the child’s parents and also act in a manner to suggest so. It is only after the court legally recognizes the parents will they be able to enjoy the full benefits of having children.

Equal Rights to Custody

If all factors are held constant, both parents will have equal rights to custody over the child. This will happen when there is no question with the paternity of the father. The parents will have to agree on a custody arrangement that works for them. The court is usually involved when both parents can’t seem to agree on the details of the custody. The court will act as a mediator if the unmarried parents can’t seem to agree. If the mediation is not successful, the court will make a decision with the child’s best interest at heart. The custody could be taken away if one of the parents is abusing drugs or is involved in a domestic violence case.

Factors that Determine Custody and Visitation

In case of a contest, the court will be forced to look at a couple of factors before making a determination. The time spent with the child and the level of being involved in the child’s upbringing will significantly impact the custody and visitation rights. A court will not want to deprive someone of their rights unless it is completely necessary. Other factors that could be used in the determination of the case include:

Residence of the Parent: A child needs to be as comfortable as possible with the place residence. Will also include the surrounding community and school.

Moral Character: The moral character of each parent is analyzed when looking at who should get custody over the children. The parent needs to treat the child with respect and provide a safe environment that is nurturing and supportive.

Financial Status: The financial status of each parent is called into question when looking at who gets custody of the child. A parent needs to prove that he or she can properly take care of a child from a financial perspective.

In case the parents are not married, it will be in the best interest of the child that the parents remain friendly and amicable when deciding the custody. If there are no issues, both the parents have equal rights and it is something that can be worked out without involving the family court. It is good that you put your ego aside for the wellbeing of the children. Sometimes one parent could be difficult to reason with and there will be no other option but to involve in the court. You should also make sure you’re getting a good family lawyer to represent you.

What Should be Included In Your Parenting Plan

Posted on: June 26, 2019 by in Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce, Family Law
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Divorce is never going to be easy and it gets complicated when kids are involved. You might be amicable with your ex but it will be challenging to agree on the details of the child custody rights. That is why it is important that you look for a good family law attorney in Anaheim so that your interests are well represented in a court of law. 

At the Law Offices of Paul J. Duron, we understand that you want what is best for your child without compromising on the legal situation. We help you in creating a parenting plan that will cover all aspects of the present and the future.

In order to prevent anything bad from happening with the plan, you need to be fully prepared. We’re going to highlight what a good parenting plan should cover so that you’re well aware when trying to get custody of your child.

Living Arrangement

This perhaps the most important part of the parenting plan. The child needs to be as comfortable as possible with the living environment. Will the child live with one parent or will have to be shifting between two homes because of the separation? When looking at this scenario, the geographical considerations will come into play. You will have to consider the movement of the child between homes and the effect it might have. A parent might decide to move away to another city. Both the parents will have to iron out who gets to stay with the child. In case of a disagreement, the court might have to be involved.

The parenting schedule could also have an effect on the living arrangement. One parent might not be readily available because of work commitments.

Vacations, Holidays, and Special Occasions

Arrangements for holidays and special days will have to be put into consideration when coming up with the parenting plan. Both parents have to be on the same page as this could get tricky because each one wants to spend time with the child. It will be better if such days are spent together as a family so that the child is not faced with the dilemma of having to make a decision.

No Bad Mouthing

This is something that often gets overlooked yet it should be talked about for the sake of the child. A marriage doesn’t always have to end when both parties are not in talking terms. Even if you’re not in talking terms with your ex, the children have the right to have a relationship with them. There should be a provision in the parental arrangement that gives the children exclusive rights to have the affection of both parents without being influenced. The parties have to make an agreement that neither of them will take an action that will estrange or discredit the parent in the eyes of the child.

Haircuts

One of the biggest challenges with child custody is that you will only be with your children for some time and not all the time even if you wish to do so. This means that you will sometimes miss some important milestones in their lives. This does not mean that your ex has all the rights of raising the children. There should be a clause in the parental agreement that limits one spouse from making all the major decisions on behalf of the child. This could affect things like a haircut for example. Neither the parent has the legal right of substantially altering the appearance of the child without a legal consent form the other party. The idea behind the arrangement is to ensure that neither the parent is making an extreme decision that involves the child.

No Time Stealing

It is not uncommon to have negative feelings and thoughts even after the divorce has been long concluded. There are occasions where a parent might try to hurt the other using emotional manipulation and involving the child in the process.

One of the tactics that are used is a parent could try and schedule for activities with the child when it is the other parent’s turn to be with the child. This could lead to conflicting scenarios for the child because he or she will be faced with the dilemma of choosing between two parents. The parental agreement will be clear on what a parent can and can’t do when it comes to spending time with the child.

Itemize Some Expenses

There should be a detailed breakdown of how the child support is going to be spent in the parental plan. One thing a good and responsible parent can do is separating health care insurance form the child support payment. There are some states where the two are individual costs are addressed separately in the child parenting plan. Make sure you’re having a good attorney because some expenses can overlap and you might not be sure is to be included in the parenting plan.

Handling Technology

Children are spending a lot of time in front of their phones. As parents, you need to decide on the details and restrictions. There should be a provision in the plan that outlines the use of electronic devices by the children. It is not really a common provision that most parents will remember to include but doing so will help in preventing disagreements in the future.

Avoid Court

As parents, it will be in the best interest of the child to avoid court if it is possible. When you go to court, it means there is a disagreement that can’t be settled amicably between the two of you. There should be a provision in the parenting plan that advocates the use of a third party for mediation before the matter can be taken to court. Parents who use coordinators will avoid the courts. If you can’t seem to agree on the details, the court will have to be involved. This means that you to look for a good family lawyer to help you will the case.

WHO GETS YOUR HOUSE IN A CALIFORNIA DIVORCE?

Posted on: May 11, 2019 by in Divorce
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When couples divorce, as you might imagine, the marital home is frequently a point of contention. Who gets the house when California couples divorce? If you are divorcing, will you be able to sell the house – or able to keep it and stay there?

If you’ll keep reading, those questions will be answered by a Long Beach divorce attorney, and you will learn more about your rights in a California divorce. When you divorce in this state, it is imperative to understand your rights and options.

When marriage partners purchase a house in this state, the house becomes “community” or “marital” property. If the two eventually divorce, the house must be “divided in half,” unless the spouses can voluntarily arrive at another agreement.

WHEN A COUPLE DIVORCES, WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS FOR THEIR HOME?

In fact, if a divorcing couple can agree regarding their house, they have several options for its division. One option is putting the house up for sale and dividing the proceeds. Another option – a buy-out – happens when one partner simply purchases the other’s share of the house.

If either spouse moves away from the home, will that move affect the divorce process – or the division of the home? You don’t forfeit the right to half of the home by moving away. But do not leave the house voluntarily unless you genuinely have to. Sleep on a sofa if necessary.

WHY SHOULD YOU TRY TO STAY IN YOUR HOME DURING A DIVORCE?

If you leave the house before or during the divorce process, your spouse’s lawyer may try to characterize the move as abandonment. In southern California, before you move, speak to a reliable Long Beach divorce attorney so that you fully understand your rights and legal status.

Some divorcing couples are able to share a house while their divorce is pending, but this will not be possible for most. If both partners agree to live under the same roof during the divorce, they will need clearly established rules and boundaries.

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR A COUPLE’S REAL ESTATE DURING A DIVORCE?

When a divorce petition has been filed and then is served in California, Standard Family Law Restraining Orders automatically take effect. These are four court orders printed on the back of the FL-110 form, and they are served along with divorce papers.

One of these orders restrains both spouses from “transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing, or in any way disposing of any property, real or personal, whether community, quasi-community or separate,” without the other’s consent in writing or an order from the court.

WHEN YOU SELL A HOME IN A DIVORCE, WHAT MUST BE CONSIDERED?

When divorcing spouses agree to put their house up for sale, it is a decision that cannot be hurried and must be arrived at thoughtfully. These questions must be considered:

  1. What will be the selling price? How will that be determined?
  2. Who will be the real estate agent? How will the choice be made?
  3. Who will have the home ready for prospective buyers to view?
  4. Will every decision require the agreement of the spouses?
  5. Apart from the mortgage, are there other encumbrances or liens?
  6. If a buyer makes an offer, what is the minimum figure that you can accept?

CAN THE MARITAL HOME BE SOLD WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT?

If the divorcing partners can agree, selling the house and dividing the proceeds resolves the matter of the marital home. Of course, the inability to agree is a leading reason for divorce, so in many divorces, no agreement is possible regarding how the marital home will be divided.

When spouses cannot agree, can the home still be placed on the market as the divorce process is pending? The answer is yes, provided that there is a compelling reason and you obtain a court order.

If the house is in danger of foreclosure, either spouse can request a court order to have it sold promptly. A court order to sell the house – in order to pay attorney’s fees – may also be requested if one partner is financially disadvantaged at the time the divorce procedure begins.

However, and if no urgent reason compels the immediate sale of the house, if neither spouse is buying out the other, and if the spouses cannot voluntarily reach a different agreement, in most California divorces, a court will order the house to be sold upon the finalization of the divorce.

HOW DO BUY-OUTS WORK?

Even without an agreement between the spouses, California courts actually have the power to order one spouse to buy-out the other spouse’s share of the marital home. This is quite rare and will only happen in complex, high-asset divorces.

If a buy-out can be agreed on, a court order allowing it will still be needed. Buy-outs do not necessarily require a cash payment. Payment can be made with other properties or assets, or even by compromising on contested matters like attorney fees and spousal support.

When the court issues an order for a buy-out, the attorneys and spouses must then identify an appraiser that all of the parties find trustworthy. The appraisal – if the spouses accept it – sets the home’s fair market value.

The home mortgage and any additional encumbrances are then subtracted from the fair market value to arrive at the equity value. The attorneys and spouses may then negotiate an exact buy-out figure.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER PROPERTIES?

What about a divorcing couple’s other real estate holdings, such as rental properties? A spouse must have a court order to sell any jointly owned real estate while the divorce process is pending.

Divorcing couples should also consider the impact on their income taxes of selling the marital home. They will need the services of a good tax advisor, a good real estate agent, and an experienced Long Beach divorce attorney.

A variety of factors must be taken into account if you sell the marital home as part of a divorce. Financial matters are an important part of every divorce, so the more assets and properties you own as a couple, the more complicated your divorce becomes.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CONTACT A CALIFORNIA DIVORCE LAWYER?

But whether your circumstances are affluent or modest, a number of disputes and difficulties will typically emerge in a divorce. You are going to need an attorney’s help. Disputes over children, alimony, and the family home are quite common.

If you are divorcing in California, you must be represented – from the very start – by a reliable California divorce lawyer who will ensure that you are treated fairly and justly throughout the divorce process. Having that lawyer’s help is your right.

What Every Business Owner Should Know About Valuation During A Divorce

Posted on: April 18, 2019 by in Divorce
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When spouses divorce in California, if there’s a dispute regarding marital assets and property, and if no prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement spells out another resolution, a California court will typically divide the couple’s assets and property in half.

Dividing properties and assets between divorcing spouses sounds easy, but dividing marital properties and assets – in many cases – is both difficult and contentious. A business is considered an asset, but how will a business be divided, and how can a divided business survive? Can divorce law firm in California help?

If you are a California business owner and you are divorcing or anticipating a divorce, you are about to learn how divorce can impact your operation. You may not necessarily lose half of your business in a divorce, but you will very much require a divorce attorney’s guidance and advice.

WHAT HAPPENS TO ASSETS WHEN DIVORCING SPOUSES CAN’T AGREE?

If there is no prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, and if the spouses and their divorce lawyers cannot negotiate a division of the properties and assets that is acceptable to both spouses, the court will split the properties and assets “fifty-fifty” in the divorce proceeding.

More precisely, when divorcing partners cannot reach an agreement about dividing their assets and properties, the court will have the assets “characterized” – that is, every asset and property item will be identified as individual property or as marital property.

HOW DOES A CALIFORNIA DIVORCE COURT “CHARACTERIZE” A BUSINESS?

When your business is being characterized, the court will need answers to the following questions:

  • Did you inherit or create the business?
  • If it’s a start-up, was the business started before or during the marriage?
  • If it’s an inheritance, was it inherited before or during the marriage?
  • If it’s an inheritance, is it solely yours or is it co-owned with other heirs?
  • Do you have any business partners?

divorce paperwork

Don’t just presume that you’ll lose half of your business and that it will be characterized as marital property – everything hinges on details. For instance, if your business was created with your personal assets, you may be able to claim it as your personal property.

However, when one or both spouses have an ownership interest in a closely held corporation, that ownership interest is typically characterized as a marital asset and is therefore subject to division in a divorce proceeding in this state.

WHAT WILL A BUSINESS VALUATOR DO?

If a business – or the ownership interest in a business – must be divided, one or both spouses may hire a business valuator.

Every company is different, but typically a business valuator will request financial documents such as tax returns, financial statements, and balance sheets. A valuator may also meet with management and visit the operation’s headquarters, production facilities, and/or main offices.

financial disclosures

A business valuator will produce a business valuation report which estimates the current value and the projected future value of the business or the ownership interest in the business.

WHAT IF EITHER SPOUSE DISPUTES THE VALUATOR’S FINDINGS?

Divorcing spouses may or may not agree to accept the figures in the business valuation report. If they do not agree, or if they hired different valuators who arrive at different conclusions, the valuator(s) may have to testify in a divorce hearing about valuation techniques and methods.

If the parties cannot agree on a business valuation estimate, a judge is ultimately tasked with assigning a dollar value to the business and with dividing that value between the divorcing spouses.

WHAT FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE IS REQUIRED IN A CALIFORNIA DIVORCE?

To divorce in California, both spouses must file detailed declarations of financial disclosure. The spouse who files divorce papers must complete a financial disclosure when filing for divorce or within sixty days after filing.

Let an experienced Cerritos divorce attorney help you complete the disclosure documents. Your declaration of financial disclosure must list all individual and marital properties and assets that the spouses have acquired before the marriage as well as during the marriage.

law clerks

All properties, assets, debts, and incomes must be fully disclosed by both divorcing spouses. The failure to make a full financial disclosure is illegal and may be considered perjury.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A CALIFORNIA DIVORCE LAW FIRM?

Financial disclosures provide the court with a precise snapshot of each partner’s financial condition, and that helps the court determine how to divide the marital properties and assets fairly.

If you own a business in California, it is vital to “get in front of” a divorce before your business is negatively affected. Even before you file divorce papers – or as soon as you know that your spouse is filing for divorce – speak at once to an experienced Cerritos divorce attorney.

HOW CAN YOUR BUSINESS BE PROTECTED IN ADVANCE OF A DIVORCE?

These recommendations for business owners will help you to protect the business from some of the problems that may arise in a divorce:

  • Maintain accurate, comprehensive business records. Keep personal finances entirely separate from business finances.
  • Obtain an objective, accurate, and precise valuation of your business in advance – to make sure that your spouse doesn’t receive more than his or her fair share.

In your divorce negotiations, you may have to negotiate other assets to keep the ownership of your business. For example, you might have to sacrifice a retirement account or some real estate as compensation for half of the operation.

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS WHEN SPOUSES ARE CO-OWNERS OF A BUSINESS?

If they co-own a business, divorcing spouses may choose to continue as partners, and neither spouse will need to sacrifice his or her share of the operation. A valuation won’t even be required in such cases. Another option is simply to sell a co-owned business and split the proceeds.

As a California business owner, unless you’re a sole proprietor or you co-own the business exclusively with your spouse, your business needs a business plan, an operating agreement, or by-laws that spell out what will happen when an owner divorces.

You should also ask an attorney to review any business documents or contracts that may affect your business interests in a California divorce proceeding.

WHAT MUST BE AVOIDED WHEN A BUSINESS OWNER DIVORCES?

What you and your divorce attorney can’t allow is to let your spouse take half of the business – and the profits – and also receive alimony indefinitely. A good divorce lawyer can and must make sure that “double-dipping” by your spouse is not part of your divorce settlement.

Divorce is always difficult, but if you own a business, you must focus on your business interests. A divorce doesn’t have to ruin the business, but you must have the right divorce lawyer’s help.

Before you seek a divorce, or if you’re served with divorce papers, contact an experienced California divorce lawyer who will protect your business and your long-term business interests. Meeting with a divorce attorney as early as possible is the best strategy, and it’s your right.

What Is The Process For Separation In California?

Posted on: March 18, 2019 by in Divorce
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Here in California, married couples who are prepared to end a marriage may choose from several legal alternatives. Their options include a divorce trial, mediation, arbitration, “collaborative” divorce, annulment, and legal separation.

If you are dissolving your marriage, which of these options is best for you? Many people who are ending a marriage automatically choose divorce, but the legal separation option should be seriously considered.

How does legal separation work in California, and how does it differ from annulment or divorce? Can a divorce lawyer in Cerritos help?

EXACTLY WHAT IS LEGAL SEPARATION?

Legal separation and divorce have many similarities but also several important distinctions. Legal separation is not divorce, but for many California couples, it provides a practical alternative to divorce.

Legally separated spouses are still legally married, but in most ways, they live as if they’re divorced. They don’t share a residence, and if they’re parents, they’ll need to reach an agreement – or have an agreement imposed by the court – regarding custody, visitations, and child support.

WHY DO COUPLES CHOOSE LEGAL SEPARATION?

Not all couples who legally separate end up divorcing. A legal separation gives the spouses an opportunity to re-examine their marital situation before either spouse makes a final decision to divorce. Some separated couples are able to reconcile their differences and save their marriages.

Some couples choose to separate legally rather than seek an annulment or a divorce because their religious values prevent divorce. Some choose legal separation to hang onto benefits that might be lost in a divorce.

Still, others look at a legal separation as a sort of “trial” divorce – separating to find out “what it’s like” before permanently dissolving the marriage.

When a married couple no longer wants to live together, but one or both spouses cannot or will not divorce, or if a spouse simply is not ready for divorce, legal separation may offer the best legal remedy.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A LEGAL SEPARATION?

Simply living apart from one another does not create what California calls a “legal separation.” Spouses must file papers with the court, and they will need some help from an experienced Cerritos family law attorney.

Although at least one spouse must be a California resident for at least six months in order to file for a divorce, there is no such requirement for a legal separation in this state.

If you have not resided in California for a full six months – that is, you are a new resident – you may be able to get around the six-month residency rule for divorce by filing for a legal separation first.

If you are new in this state, you can sometimes speed up the divorce process if you file first for legal separation. California lets legally separated spouses “convert” a separation into a divorce as soon as the legal separation process is finalized.

DO MOST LEGALLY SEPARATED COUPLES RECONCILE OR DIVORCE?

Eventually, partners who legally separate either reconcile or divorce. The U.S. Census Bureau tells us that fourteen percent of the couples who legally separate eventually reconcile. The truth is, for most couples who choose it, legal separation is a prelude to divorce.

In California, both partners must consent to a legal separation. If the partner being served with legal separation papers objects to a legal separation, the other partner may have to seek a divorce or remain in the marriage.

The paperwork a legal separation is just as burdensome and complicated as the paperwork for a California divorce. In both procedures, a couple can voluntarily resolve questions like spousal support and child custody, or a court will make and impose those decisions with a court order.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN COURT DURING THE LEGAL SEPARATION PROCESS?

In a legal separation, a California judge may issue orders for child custody, child support, and/or spousal support (alimony). Additionally, in a legal separation, one partner may remain as a beneficiary of the other partner’s life insurance.

However, a spouse in a legal separation may or may not be covered by the other spouse’s health insurance plan. It depends on the policy, so you may want to review your health insurance policy before taking any legal action.

In both legal separations and divorces, a couple can save time and money – and avoid inconvenience and acrimony – by finding as much common ground as possible before initiating a divorce or a legal separation.

HOW CAN A TOP FAMILY LAW FIRM HELP YOU?

What does it take to obtain a legal separation? The first and most important step is contacting an experienced Cerritos family law attorney. A good attorney’s advice, insights, and guidance is imperative if you are seeking a legal separation or a divorce in Southern California.

A good family lawyer will help you with the extensive legal paperwork required for a legal separation. If you are a parent, there is additional paperwork. There is also a filing fee, but anyone with a low income or receiving public benefits can request a fee waiver.

Before you make a final decision about dissolving your marriage, it is a good idea to seek out some advice. If there’s a close friend you trust and you routinely confide in one another, talk with that person.

divorcing couple

Do you belong to a faith community? It may offer counseling that’s just right for you. Counseling resources are abundant across the state in both the private and public sectors.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSULT A DIVORCE ATTORNEY?

While a legal separation isn’t a divorce, there may still be important issues to resolve. Which partner will pay for what? What happens to the family home? If the spouses are parents, which parent will have custody and make the important decisions about education and healthcare.

In most cases, a reliable, experienced family law attorney can help you – or both of you – resolve these questions and obtain a legal separation or a divorce. If you are considering – or anticipating – a divorce, speak to a good family law attorney at once about all of your options.

When a marriage ends, you must protect your interests and your future. Make the call to a family law attorney and get the sound legal advice you need before any legal separation or divorce procedure even begins. Your future will depend on it.

Do Divorces Increase After V-Day?

Posted on: February 13, 2019 by in Divorce
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hearts and chocolate

You may be surprised to learn that the day after Valentine’s Day begins the annual busy season for Cerritos divorce lawyers. Research published by AttorneyFee.com indicates that divorce filings each February in the U.S. are about eighteen percent above the number of filings in an average month.

A second legal site, Avvo.com, reports that there is an annual forty percent rise in the number of married persons who are seeking legal advice about divorce in the days immediately following Valentine’s Day.

Why is there a spike in the number of divorce filings every February? Is there something wrong with Valentine’s Day, or are there other reasons for the seasonal increase in divorce filings?

IS VALENTINE’S DAY A REASON WHY PEOPLE GET DIVORCED?

Richard Komaiko is a co-founder of AttorneyFee.com. Komaiko tells CNN that “There’s a very large number of people who are considering the divorce all the time, deciding whether or not to file. On Valentine’s Day, they take stock of things.”

Why Valentine’s Day? There are several good reasons. For many people, summers are dedicated to vacations and fun, and the holidays are for families, so the best time to file for a divorce is when the holidays are over, the year is still new, and some extra cash is expected from the IRS.

ARE TAX REFUNDS THE REAL REASON WHY FEBRUARY IS DIVORCE SEASON?

Many contend that tax season is divorce season because Valentine’s Day is generally when people start receiving tax refunds. In southern California, if you plan to pay for a divorce with your IRS tax refund this year, consult at once with an experienced Cerritos divorce attorney.

At least one partner’s income, finances, and lifestyle will probably change quite dramatically after a divorce, so if you are intending to use your tax refund to pay for a divorce this tax season, you must be prepared to deal with the financial changes and challenges that a divorce entails.

If you seek a divorce after receiving your tax refund this year, you should be aware that you could be asking for genuine financial trouble if the financial particulars of your case are not reviewed thoroughly and handled properly by a knowledgeable and skill divorce lawyer.

WHAT FINANCIAL STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE PRIOR TO A DIVORCE?

To prepare – wisely – for a divorce, go ahead and take these six key financial steps:

Open one or more new bank accounts in your name only.
Thoroughly review your financial condition and your credit report.
Create a practical personal budget that works, and stick with it.
Cancel any joint credit cards that you share with your spouse.
You may need to change the beneficiary of your bank accounts and life insurance.
Speak at once with a good California divorce attorney.

It is quite easy to see why so many people wait for a tax refund and then file for a divorce. Tax refunds, however, may not be the only reason why February is the month with the most divorce filings.

DOES VALENTINE’S DAY “TRIGGER” DIVORCE FILINGS?

Alton Abramowitz, the president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, suspects that Valentine’s Day itself – and the expectation of romance on the holiday – may in fact be the trigger that brings many already-troubled marriages to the point of divorce.

Abramowitz tells CNN, “There’s always the clients who come in a day or two after saying, ‘I can’t believe it, I made this beautiful dinner for my husband for Valentine’s Day, he called to say he was stuck in the office and then didn’t come home at all.'”

For whatever reason you may choose to divorce, do not even think about starting a divorce in California without the sound legal guidance and advice that a seasoned divorce lawyer can offer. Far too much – your future, your finances, and if you are a parent, your kids – will be at stake.

HOW MUCH WILL A DIVORCE COST IN CERRITOS, CA?

The cost of a divorce will depend on precisely what legal services you need. When everything is in dispute, a divorce costs more, but when divorcing spouses can agree, and when issues like custody, child support, and alimony can be resolved in advance, you will pay significantly less.

However, when divorcing spouses can’t agree on anything, a trial to resolve their disputes can be quite costly in California. Reaching some voluntary mutual agreements is realistically the only way to reduce the cost of a divorce in this state.

Still, most divorce attorneys can arrange a realistic and practical payment plan that will work for almost anyone. And under California law, if one partner rejects settlement agreements in a way that drives up litigation costs, a court may order that partner to pay for the other spouse’s lawyer.

A judge may also order one spouse to pay the other’s legal fees if a spouse is so disadvantaged financially that the proceeding would otherwise be entirely unfair. A disadvantaged spouse may ask a judge to examine the couple’s finances and to guarantee the fairness of the proceeding.

WHAT IS REQUIRED TO OBTAIN A CALIFORNIA DIVORCE?

Of course, because every divorce is different, if you are divorcing, considering a divorce, or anticipating a divorce in southern California this year, you will need to have a qualified divorce lawyer explain what the fees and the other costs will be in your own situation.

You already know that a divorce is an emotional experience, but it will be important to stay focused on your finances. Take full advantage of the legal advice, insights, representation, resources, and experience that your divorce attorney offers.

You do not need to prove “fault” to divorce in California. To obtain a divorce in this state, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six successive months and must be a resident of the county where the divorce petition is filed for at least three consecutive months.

A good divorce attorney’s help is your right. Do not be intimidated, and do not let financial anxiety hold you back. Reliable legal help is here for you in southern California, but you must take the first step and make the call to an experienced Cerritos divorce attorney.

Alternatives To Divorce In California

Posted on: December 19, 2018 by in Divorce
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A divorce can be stressful, tedious, and exhausting. A trial can make it worse. If you are divorcing, considering divorce, or anticipating divorce in southern California, your first move should be to discuss your options and rights with an experienced Cerritos divorce attorney.

Family law and the laws governing divorce started slowly changing in the 19th century, but the biggest changes have happened since the 1960s. Spouses no longer need “grounds” for divorce, for example. No-fault divorce is the law now in all fifty states.

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES TO A COURTROOM DIVORCE TRIAL?

Even the way that people get divorced has changed. Here in California, for instance, it is no longer necessary to have a courtroom divorce trial. Divorcing couples can avoid going to court – and can save time and money – by turning to arbitration, mediation, or “collaborative” divorce.

Especially if you are considering or anticipating a divorce in California, keep reading. This is a brief discussion of mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce – the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options available to those who are divorcing in this state.

fighting couple

Divorce trials are on the public record. In a divorce trial, personal details about your finances and your children are made available to anyone who accesses public records. However, alternatives like mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce can keep your family’s details private.

WHAT IS DIVORCE MEDIATION?

In recent decades, divorcing spouses in California have turned increasingly to divorce mediation. In a mediated divorce, an impartial third-party mediator guides the divorcing partners toward agreements on custody and support, but the mediator has no authority to impose an agreement.

The divorce mediator may be a mental health professional or an attorney. Mediation is usually conducted in a number of meetings over a period of several weeks or months. If the spouses have attorneys, they may advise the spouses and draft or review any agreements that are reached.

If a California divorce involves a dispute over child custody, California’s family courts will order the spouses to try mediation before they take the dispute into a courtroom hearing. Mediators encourage parents to cooperate on parenting issues in the best interests of the children.

Divorcing spouses in southern California – whether or not they are parents – can learn more about the mediation option by speaking to a skilled divorce lawyer.

WHAT IS AN ARBITRATED DIVORCE?

Divorcing partners in California may instead choose the arbitration process. An arbitrator can often resolve divorce-related issues quickly. If the partners agree ahead of time to accept the arbitrator’s decisions, those decisions are final.

arbitration process

The arbitration process is comparable to a trial but less formal. Arguments are presented by the attorneys, evidence is offered, and witnesses may be examined and cross-examined. Arbitrators decide the final conditions and terms of a divorce based on the testimony and the evidence.

Arbitration gives divorcing partners these three advantages over a courtroom divorce trial: control, speed, and privacy. Spouses are given all of the time they need to present all of their evidence. Still, arbitration can often resolve a divorce in weeks rather than months.

Most divorce arbitrators in California are retired family law judges or practicing family law attorneys, so they know the law. If arbitration is your choice for divorce, choosing a good arbitrator is imperative.

HOW ARE MEDIATION AND ARBITRATION DISTINCT?

Mediation and arbitration are often misunderstood and confused. Arbitrators hear both sides of a divorce case and make a binding decision. Mediation is different; it’s basically managed by the divorcing partners themselves. Mediators have no power to enforce any rulings or decisions.

Nevertheless, a skilled divorce mediator or a talented divorce arbitrator can be central to a smooth, quick divorce. The primary goal of divorce arbitration and divorce mediation is the resolution of divorce-related disputes without the need for a trial.

Both mediation and arbitration are cost-effective alternatives that provide a fair opportunity for parting spouses to resolve the disputed issues in their divorce.

WHAT IS A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?

Like mediation and arbitration, the collaborative divorce alternative encourages cooperation and requires mutual respect between the divorcing spouses.

cooperation between spouses

Also like mediation and arbitration, a collaborative divorce procedure can keep a couple out of the courtroom while allowing the pair to benefit from sound legal advice and experienced legal representation throughout the process.

What makes the collaborative divorce process distinct is that it involves specialists such as attorneys, mental health authorities, and financial experts. In the collaborative divorce process, these specialists are referred to as “coaches.”

If children are involved, another “coach” may be brought in to represent their needs and concerns. An impartial financial “coach” may be asked to help resolve financial disputes.

HOW ARE DISPUTES RESOLVED IN A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?

Collaborative divorce helps divorcing spouses and their children move forward in constructive and positive ways without contention, acrimony, or recrimination.

The spouses are involved at every stage of a collaborative divorce procedure. Instead of letting a judge or an arbitrator impose a resolution, the spouses collaboratively decide – with the help of their “coaches” – on the terms and conditions of the divorce.

Both partners must agree in advance to approach the collaborative divorce process in good faith. To guarantee the integrity of collaborative divorce, partners must agree that they won’t take the case to trial and that they will settle their disputes during the collaborative divorce process.

If the collaborative divorce process fails, which is rare, the same lawyers can’t be involved later if the divorce becomes a courtroom trial.

HOW WILL A GOOD DIVORCE LAW FIRM HELP YOU?

Some divorce lawyers still rely primarily on litigation, but the general trend in family law today is to protect a client’s interests while reducing any potential for conflict.

Alternative dispute resolution methods

Alternative dispute resolution methods also allow California’s family courts to concentrate on the cases where partners cannot resolve their differences except by going to trial.

When you and your partner divorce in California, whether you choose arbitration, mediation, collaborative divorce, or a conventional courtroom trial, you will need a divorce lawyer who is sensitive to your concerns – a lawyer who routinely handles divorces for a variety of clients.

In southern California, if you are divorcing, or if you are merely seeking advice about divorce, get the reliable advice and aggressive representation that you’ll need by speaking promptly with a reliable Cerritos divorce attorney. A good attorney’s help is your legal right.

Subpoenas In Divorce Cases

Posted on: October 15, 2018 by in Divorce
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A divorce is not easy, but it can be a lot harder when the person you are divorcing will not even cooperate in the divorce process. An uncooperative spouse can make it quite difficult to obtain the evidence you will need to ensure that you receive a just and fair divorce settlement.

Thanks to uncooperative spouses, divorce attorneys in Cerritos often hear questions like these from their clients:

1. How can I prove that my wife or husband is not too sick to work?
2. How can I prove that my wife or husband is working and paid “under the table?”
3. How can I prove that my wife or husband is hiding assets?

If you are getting a divorce in this state, and if your spouse is not cooperating, you’ll need to know how to obtain information about your spouse’s income and assets. You’ll learn that below.

WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT DIVORCE IN CALIFORNIA?

But the most important thing to know about divorce in southern California is that from the very beginning of the process, you must have the insights and guidance that an experienced Cerritos divorce lawyer can provide.

So how can you acquire the documentation and evidence that you’ll need for your divorce? By using subpoenas. In California, a subpoena is one of the most powerful legal tools that your divorce attorney can use on your behalf.

A partner who is hiding assets during a divorce is trying to hold onto more than his or her share of the marital assets while keeping the other partner from receiving his or her fair share. It’s a completely illegal and unethical strategy, but it happens all too often in divorces in California.

Subpoenas may also compel unwilling witnesses to testify. Someone who is a friend of both spouses may not want to become involved in their divorce. Divorces often have genuinely high stakes, so some parties may be unwilling to offer their testimony or other valuable information.

HOW CAN A SUBPOENA HELP YOU?

A subpoena, however, can legally force an unwilling party to participate.

A subpoena is a court order; the recipient of a subpoena must comply with the order unless that person has an acceptable legal reason for not complying. There are several types of subpoenas, but these are the subpoenas that are most likely to be used in a California divorce proceeding:

1. Civil Subpoena for Personal Appearance at Trial or Hearing (form SUBP-001): This subpoena compels a witness to appear at a trial or evidentiary hearing.

2. Civil Subpoena for Personal Appearance and Production of Documents (form SUBP-002): This subpoena includes an order to the witness to bring a certain item or items of evidence when he or she appears and testifies at the trial or evidentiary hearing.

3. Deposition Subpoena for Production of Business Records (form SUBP-010): This subpoena requests business records that, in a divorce, may include bank and credit card statements, investment accounts, employment records, medical records, and more.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN A DIVORCE IF ONE SPOUSE IS DISHONEST?

SUBP-010 is especially helpful in divorce situations where one spouse is suspected of underreporting income or hiding assets.

Some people are quite creative when they underreport income or hide assets. Some divorcing spouses try to hide assets in foreign banks. Others temporarily shift ownership of their assets to a friend or a relative. All kinds of deceptions have been used.

If you reasonably believe that the partner you are divorcing has not provided the court with complete and accurate financial disclosure information, inform your divorce lawyer immediately.

If your spouse tries to deceive the court regarding property and assets, he or she could be compelled to pay your attorney’s fees or could even be ordered to jail for contempt of court. California judges have the authority to deal harshly with deception in divorce cases.

HOW WILL A DIVORCE ATTORNEY HELP YOU?

The frequent need for subpoenas in divorce cases is one reason why, if you are divorcing in southern California, you must have a reputable divorce attorney representing you and advocating on your behalf.

If you are not an attorney, you probably will not know the different types of subpoenas and how they are issued. Your divorce attorney routinely handles these matters and knows what it takes to protect your rights in a divorce case.

At your first consultation with your divorce attorney, the two of you should review the facts in your case and try to determine which persons you may need as witnesses and which records you may need to obtain – in other words, what subpoenas will need to be requested.

Your divorce attorney will help you to identify the types of records you may need to subpoena for your divorce proceeding.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF SOMEONE IGNORES A SUBPOENA?

Ignoring a subpoena can place someone in contempt of court, which is punishable with fines, and in some cases, time in jail.

You could also be penalized if you try to obtain evidence for your case illegally. For example, if you believe that documents in your spouse’s computer can prove that your spouse is under-reporting his or her income, you can’t simply hack into the computer or steal the password.

Instead, have your divorce attorney request a subpoena for the information you need. That’s the legal way to do it. Courts will only allow evidence that meets admissibility requirements.

Subpoenas are sometimes misused in divorce cases. An unethical lawyer might seek a subpoena, not for a good legal reason, but simply to upset and distract the other side. If this happens in your divorce, your own attorney should contest any requests for unnecessary subpoenas.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CONTACT A DIVORCE LAWYER?

Here in southern California, if you are considering a divorce, or if you are served with divorce papers, you are going to need legal help as early as possible in the divorce process. You will need to speak at once with an experienced Cerritos divorce lawyer.

Your divorce lawyer will explain your rights, your options, and how the law applies in your own divorce. Your attorney will protect your long-term best interests and see to it that you are treated fairly throughout the divorce procedure.

When you divorce in California, a lawyer’s help is imperative, and moreover, it is your right.

The Risks Of Deleting Your Facebook Page During A Divorce

Posted on: August 16, 2018 by in Divorce
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As you may already know, most divorce lawyers in the state of California will advise you to avoid Facebook – and in fact, to avoid social media altogether – during the divorce process. You are about to learn the reasons why.

What you may not know is that your Cerritos divorce lawyer may also advise you against deleting your Facebook page and your other social media accounts during a divorce.

WHY SHOULD YOU AVOID POSTING ONLINE DURING A DIVORCE?

If you are divorcing in California, planning to divorce, or anticipating that your spouse is planning to divorce you, you should refrain from posting anything on social media until your divorce is finalized.

Whatever you post online could be scrutinized, twisted, and used against you.

Of course, almost everyone relies on technology far more than we did even twenty years ago. Today, millions share videos, pictures, and personal details on sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The impact of these social media platforms – on all of us – has been nothing less than revolutionary. Attorneys, courts, and state legislatures are now dealing with legal questions about social media that did not even exist prior to the 21st century.

HOW ARE THE COURTS MAKING USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA?

Criminal prosecutors in all fifty states, for example, regularly peruse the online accounts of criminal suspects and their accomplices for status updates and photographs that may be used against defendants in criminal cases.

Attorneys for the defendants in personal injury cases seek online evidence that an injury victim is not as injured as that victim claims.

And in divorce cases in California, the evidence gleaned from social media accounts is typically used to discredit a spouse’s honesty and character.

Dean Tong, speaking for the American Board of Forensic Examiners, warns: “I can tell you any post on social media can be introduced into evidence on a court record by an attorney and used against a litigant, negatively, in family court.”

CAN FACEBOOK HELP OR HURT YOU IN A DIVORCE?

If your Facebook page shows that you are a devoted and responsible parent, that may help you slightly in a child custody battle, but a Facebook page that characterizes you as a “party animal” or a “thug” cannot help you with any aspect of your divorce.

On either side of a divorce proceeding, posting something that you think is harmless might come back to hurt you.

You may want to discuss the details with an experienced divorce attorney who can address your concerns regarding your social media accounts and the potential role those accounts can play in the divorce process.

While it is imperative to avoid posting anything online while your divorce is pending, many divorce lawyers are now also saying that you should not close or delete your Facebook account or other social media pages when you or your spouse initiate a divorce procedure.

WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF KEEPING YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT?

When you keep your social media accounts open, the spouse you are divorcing – and the acquaintances of either partner – may, in fact, post items that will end up being helpful to your side of the case.

Do not close out your Facebook account unless your divorce lawyer specifically tells you to do so.

Possibly the most important reason that a divorcing spouse should not delete a Facebook account is because it may come under the scrutiny of the discovery process in a divorce procedure. Your spouse’s attorney conceivably could ask the court to order you not to delete the account.

The lawyers on both sides of the divorce will want to access and examine your Facebook page, so you do not want to be accused of hiding or destroying evidence.

WHAT CAN A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT REVEAL?

Your history on Facebook is usually available from its beginning. If a divorcing spouse doesn’t delete anything and keeps the account open from the beginning, it could reveal a great deal about why the partners are divorcing – or it may reveal nothing at all.

Your divorce attorney will take a look at your Facebook page – and at your spouse’s, if it is available – and will explain how specific posts may be used to help or hurt your case.

Frankly, everyone should understand that nothing posted online is ever truly private or ever genuinely and entirely deleted. Your spouse’s divorce lawyer may be able to acquire even the posts that you’ve deleted and use the information in those posts against you.

WHAT ABOUT FACEBOOK’S TERMS OF SERVICE AND PRIVACY SETTINGS?

In fact, if you read Facebook’s terms of service, you learn that the platform’s privacy settings may keep others from seeing your posts but offer you no protection if a court – or your spouse’s divorce lawyer – wants access to posts that you thought were protected by privacy settings.

A word of warning: Do not try to “hack” into your spouse’s Facebook page or any other social media account during a divorce if those accounts are not public or if you have been blocked.

Creating a phony identity online and then trying to “friend” the spouse you are divorcing is an extremely bad idea. Instead, let your divorce attorney obtain legally the information that will be useful to you in court.

Any online effort to deceive will probably fail – and bring the court’s condemnation on you.

WHAT DO DIVORCE LAWYERS SAY ABOUT THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA?

The impact of social media on divorce cases cannot be underestimated. Even back in 2010, more than eighty percent of the divorce lawyers surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said the impact of social media on divorce was substantial and on the rise.

When you first speak to a qualified divorce attorney about obtaining a divorce, expect that attorney to ask you about your social media accounts.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT DURING A DIVORCE?

When you divorce, you must be cautious even sending texts and emails. Do not write anything electronically that you would not want your spouse’s attorney to read out loud in court.

You can expect that a divorce proceeding will be uncomfortable and embarrassing, so you do not want to make things even harder on yourself.

Get the legal help that you need at the very start of the divorce process – that’s your right – and then adhere to your attorney’s advice and recommendations.