Archive for the ‘ Divorce ’ Category

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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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,, 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?


Richard Komaiko is a co-founder of 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Mediation Vs. Litigation In A Divorce

Posted on: April 13, 2018 by in Divorce
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In the past, a divorce typically meant that divorcing spouses had to endure a long and costly courtroom trial. But today, many divorcing couples in California are choosing a “mediated” divorce rather than a “litigated” divorce.

If you are divorcing or considering divorce in the state of California – or if your spouse is divorcing you – you can both save time and money, and avoid a great deal of aggravation, by choosing the mediation option. Can a Cerrritos divorce lawyer help?


The advantages of a mediated divorce – particularly when compared against an acrimonious, litigated courtroom trial – are substantial. Nothing positive can emerge from an emotionally-charged, contentious courtroom divorce.

For most couples who are divorcing in California, the disputed issues in a divorce can be handled more appropriately through the mediation process and away from the courtroom.

A mediated divorce costs considerably less than a litigated divorce.

You and the spouse you are divorcing – and not a judge or some other complete stranger – remain in control of your futures throughout the mediation procedure.

Particularly in high-conflict and high-asset divorce cases, mediation is better because it is non-adversarial.


Another benefit is that divorce mediation in California is confidential, so there’s no public record. That can be important if you and your spouse are disputing the division of your marital property and assets.

Every detail of a courtroom trial, however, is on the public record.

And by settling your divorce through the mediation process and outside of the courtroom, you’ll ensure that the final divorce agreement meets your needs and your ex-spouse’s – rather than the arbitrary needs and requirements of California law.


Of course, mediation is not necessarily the right option for every couple that is seeking to divorce.

If the divorcing partners simply cannot come to agreements on matters like spousal support, the division of assets and properties, or child custody, the couple will probably have to endure a conventional courtroom divorce trial.

But when a divorcing couple can cooperate, whether it’s for the children or some other reason, then mediation is probably the right option.

Especially when you consider the financial and emotional cost of an adversarial divorce trial, mediation makes genuinely good sense. Divorcing spouses who are not comfortable with the idea of mediation probably just need to learn more about the process.


You and your partner, with the advice of your divorce lawyers, will hire a certified, neutral, third-party mediator. A mediator’s role is to point and guide the divorcing spouses toward a divorce settlement that is just, fair, and acceptable to both spouses.

You should meet with a prospective mediator personally before the mediation sessions begin. Your mediator must be someone you can trust and someone who can put you at ease.

Do not begin the process until you’ve found that individual.

Divorce mediators have no capacity to order or compel anyone in any way, so mediation depends almost entirely on the sincere and forthright participation of the spouses. Nevertheless, it’s important to have a skilled and experienced mediator.

When a mediator has been selected, the process generally begins with an initial meeting between spouses and the mediator to outline the goals of the mediation and to define the issues and disputes in the divorce.


Typically, both spouses discuss their positions on the matters in dispute. The mediator may meet with the divorcing spouses together and separately several times, seeking common ground that might provide the basis for agreement.

A mediator can help with specifics such as payment and visitation schedules. Mediation seeks to resolve all matters disputed in the divorce and create a final, written divorce agreement.

If the mediation is successful, the mediator will draft a settlement agreement for approval by the court. Courts almost always sign off on these agreements provided that they are fair and provided that – if there are children – the interests of the children have been placed first.

But if one partner is not honest and forthright during mediation, you may not be able to arrive at a final agreement. Cooperation – from both partners – is imperative for a successful divorce mediation.

When mediation fails, your divorce case moves to the courtroom, where it will take more time and cost more money.

If that happens in southern California, you’ll need to be represented by an experienced and aggressive Long Beach divorce attorney.


Mediation probably will not succeed when divorcing spouses blame and accuse each other, when marital assets and properties are disputed, and when drug, alcohol, or abuse issues are involved. These divorces are usually resolved in courtroom divorce trials.

Mediation works best when divorcing spouses are honest with one another, want to remain on good terms, don’t blame one another, and are able to disagree without anger or acrimony.

Unfortunately, in too many divorces, agreements cannot be reached, and one spouse is left with no choice except to take the other spouse to court – and ask the court to order a fair divorce settlement.


In contrast to a mediated divorce, a litigated divorce can be lengthy, frustrating, and complicated. A divorce trial in California can include multiple court appearances, witnesses, subpoenas, motions, and delays.

If a voluntary mutual agreement is simply not possible, and your divorce goes to trial in southern California, you’ll need an attorney who will present the strongest possible case on your behalf – and if you have children, on their behalf as well.

Only judges hear and decide on California divorce trials, so if your divorce must go to court, there won’t be a jury.

But whether you choose mediation or litigation, and whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, in southern California, you must have the advice and representation that an experienced Long Beach divorce attorney will provide.

Courtroom divorce trials are still conducted every day that the courts are open in California, and when the issues are dispute, a courtroom trial remains the final alternative. But for many divorcing couples in California, mediation will be better.

How A Divorce Can Affect Your Taxes

Posted on: February 13, 2018 by in Divorce
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If you are considering a divorce or expecting a divorce, an ex-spouse might not be the only one who wants some of your assets.

The IRS may also want some cash. Keep reading to learn how a divorce is going to impact your taxes.

Whenever assets change hands, it will affect your taxes, and the IRS will want to know. The basics are explained below, but of course, each individual’s tax situation will be unique.

That’s one reason why anyone who is divorcing in southern California must seek the advice of an experienced California divorce attorney who can answer your financial questions.

A divorce can have a huge impact on your federal income taxes, but a little knowledge can help you avoid a lot of tax problems. A good divorce lawyer can offer the advice that you’ll need.


If your divorce is now final, you may file a joint return only if you were still legally married on the last day of the tax year (December 31st) and if you and your spouse both agree to file jointly.

Even if you were legally separated and your divorce was pending, the IRS presumes that you were married the entire year if no final divorce decree was issued on or before December 31st.

If your divorce was not finalized before the end of the tax year, your taxes will almost certainly be lower if you file a joint return.

Nevertheless, you should consult both your divorce lawyer and your tax advisor regarding the potential advantages and disadvantages of filing a joint tax return.


The primary drawback to filing jointly is that the divorcing partners become jointly liable for both the taxes and for any deficiencies, interest, or penalties.

If you file jointly, consider a tax indemnification agreement which provides that one partner is liable for any amounts due on previously-filed joint returns and which protects the other partner.

Without a tax indemnification agreement, you may not want to file jointly, because you could be held liable if the IRS determines that the return is inaccurate and the taxes were underpaid.

You and your divorce lawyer must ensure that the final divorce decree spells out precisely how you and your ex will deal with any federal tax liability or refunds.


If your divorce becomes final in the middle of a tax year or even on December 31st, the IRS treats you and your taxes as if you were unmarried for the entire year.

In that situation, your filing status will be “single” or “head of household.” To qualify for the “head of household” filing status, you must meet these criteria:

1. You were unmarried on the final day of the tax year.
2. Throughout the tax year, you paid over fifty percent of the cost of keeping up a home.
3. A “qualifying person” resided with you in the home for over half of the tax year.
4. You qualify to claim an exemption for your child.

The custodial parent is entitled to claim the exemption for the child, but the custodial parent may also agree to transfer the exemption to the non-custodial parent.

To transfer the exemption, a custodial parent must sign a statement that he or she will not claim the child as a dependent, and the non-custodial parent must attach that statement to his or her tax return.

If you file as head of household, but your divorce was not final on or before December 31st, your partner must file as “married filing separately.”


California is one of only nine “community property” states. In a community property state, both spouses are legally considered the equal owners of all of the marital property.

Thus, in this state, whatever is earned or acquired by either spouse during a marriage is co-owned by both, and it doesn’t matter who actually earned it or whose name may be on a title.

So whatever you have earned or acquired during the marriage will be evenly divided in a California divorce.

Thus, the usual rule for taxes is that each spouse gets taxed for fifty percent of the income from any income-generating properties or assets.

Additionally, you must report half of the dividends and interest from any jointly-owned property or asset until the date when that property or asset is transferred entirely to you or to your spouse.


In a California divorce, whether you expect to pay alimony or expect to receive it, you must consider how alimony will impact your taxes – and vice-versa.

Currently, the law allows an ex who pays alimony to deduct it, and the law requires the ex who receives alimony to pay taxes on it. 2018, however, will be the last year alimony is handled this way.

For any divorce initiated on or after January 1, 2019, the law will become the exact reverse of the current law.

When you file in 2019, the ex who pays alimony will not be able to deduct it, and the ex who receives the alimony will not have to pay taxes on it.

Child support payments are not deductible for the paying parent and are not considered income, so a parent who receives it pays no federal income taxes on child support.


Understanding what is involved and what’s at risk in a divorce can help you avoid trouble with the IRS. What you are reading here is only an introduction to the issues you’ll face.

The more complicated your finances and your spouse’s are, the more difficult it will be to hash out the tax matters and the other financial details in a divorce.

However, there is no reason to let the tax issues or the other financial matters that accompany a divorce become stumbling blocks for you.

In southern California, an experienced Long Beach divorce attorney can help.


When you divorce, you will need sound legal advice – and you’ll need an aggressive advocate in your corner. Your future will be at stake.

It is absolutely critical to get the legal help you need as early as possible in the divorce process. And it’s your right.

What Happens To Home Equity In A Divorce?

Posted on: January 14, 2018 by in Divorce
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If you are divorcing in the state of California, if you have divorced recently, or if you expect or anticipate a divorce, you will probably have a number of concerns about financial matters that you’d want to speak with a Cerritos divorce lawyer.

For example, if you jointly own your home with your spouse, what will happen to it?

How can the value or equity of a home be divided fairly by a divorce court?

Of course, everyone’s situation regarding home equity will be different.

You may be making a monthly mortgage payment, you may already have your mortgage paid off, or you may be renting. Some couples own more than one home.

If you are divorcing in southern California, you’ll need personalized legal and financial advice applicable to your own circumstances.

When a marriage ends in divorce, the fate of the couple’s home must be determined.

What are the options in a California divorce when the couple’s home – or at least the couple’s equity in their home – must somehow be fairly divided?

Selling may be the easiest solution, but selling the home isn’t always feasible.

Some couples agree to a buy-out arrangement, where one partner buys the other’s half of the home.


When a home’s equity must be divided in a California divorce procedure, the home should be appraised by a qualified appraiser.

You subtract the outstanding mortgage amount and any other liens on the home from the appraisal figure to arrive at the home equity amount.

The real estate market – especially in southern California – fluctuates rapidly, so when you divorce, an appraisal should be conducted at the time of the divorce, because any older appraisal will be out of date.

If the home is sold, the divorcing partners should try to agree on how to split the equity.

The divorcing partners will also have to agree on a sale price, a real estate agent, and the terms of the sale.

A dispute regarding the division of home equity will unnecessarily cost both divorcing spouses additional time, money, and aggravation.

If you are divorcing, discuss home equity – and the best way to approach the equity issue – with your divorce lawyer before a dispute arises.

In the state of California, any property that a married couple comes to possess during their marriage will be deemed community property.

Thus, if a home was purchased with community property assets, the home is community property, with each of the spouses owning a fifty percent interest in the home and fifty percent of the equity.


However, if one partner owned the home individually prior to the marriage, or if one partner inherited the home or received it as a gift, there may be no legal cause to divide the equity.

Property acquired before a marriage or received as an inheritance or as a gift is usually considered personal property, but if the home was purchased by the couple during the course of the marriage, it will probably be community property.

Divorcing spouses have the right to agree mutually to an uneven division of the home equity.

One spouse, in other words, may receive more than the other – sometimes in return for some other consideration – if both agree.

Make sure that you work out such an agreement with the advice of your attorneys, because a judge must sign off on your final divorce agreement, and any agreement that a judge determines is not equitable and fair for both spouses will be rejected.

If one of the divorcing spouses wants to buy the other spouse’s half of the home, the couple will need to arrive at a fair and appropriate price, and they will also need to negotiate a fair division of the commissions, taxes, and the other expenses associated with the sale of a residence in this state.


Before your divorce begins, discuss the home equity matter with your divorce attorney, and know what your options are in advance regarding home equity in a divorce.

Make your goals regarding the home and the equity absolutely clear to your attorney so that he or she can negotiate, if necessary, for the best possible arrangement on your behalf.

The financial decisions you make in a divorce will have a profound and lasting impact on your life.

At the beginning of the divorce process, divorcing spouses in California must complete a preliminary declaration of disclosure listing all of the marital and individual property acquired both outside and within the marriage.

Divorcing partners also must declare their expenses and incomes in the preliminary declaration of disclosure.

It’s wisest to complete the preliminary declaration of disclosure with your divorce lawyer’s assistance.

Along with protecting your home equity, you should pay detailed attention to your credit card and bank accounts, how and where and your important financial papers are kept, and the particular details of your debts, assets, and retirement accounts.

Work with your divorce lawyer regarding your personal finances to fill in or find any details that may be missing.


You may also want to make appropriate changes to your life insurance policy and/or your will.

Some people who divorce, speaking frankly, will have to make some adjustments to their lifestyles and spending habits.

Divorcing partners who have more property, assets, credit, and debts will inevitably face a much more complicated divorce procedure than divorcing couples with more modest finances.

Anyone who is considering, anticipating, or expecting a divorce in southern California should seek legal representation and advice exclusively – and as early as possible – from an experienced Long Beach divorce attorney who regularly handles complicated divorce cases and who regularly prevails on behalf of clients.

No divorce is easy.

You will need a qualified and experienced divorce lawyer who can get the job done effectively while remaining sensitive to your needs and concerns at every stage of the divorce process.

The right California divorce lawyer will offer the advice and encouragement you need while advocating aggressively for the just and equitable divorce settlement you deserve.

What Happens If You Stop Paying Alimony?

Posted on: December 19, 2017 by in Divorce
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If you and your spouse obtain a divorce in the state of California, could you be ordered to pay alimony? What if the amount you are ordered to pay isn’t fair? How is an alimony amount determined by the court? Can a spousal support lawyer help?

And what happens if you’ve been ordered by the court to pay alimony, and you don’t? If you’re considering a divorce in California – or if you are already paying or receiving alimony – keep reading to learn more about alimony rights and obligations in this state.

Obtaining a divorce in California can be a complicated legal procedure. If you divorce in Southern California, you should be advised and represented from the beginning by an experienced Long Beach divorce attorney.

California is a “no-fault” divorce state, so neither spouse in a divorce is obligated to prove that the other did anything wrong or is “at-fault.”

If you are ordered by the court to pay alimony – the law in California calls it “spousal support” – as part of a divorce settlement, you may feel the ruling is unfair.

A skilled Long Beach divorce attorney can review your existing spousal support order – whether you are paying the alimony or receiving it – to determine if it’s appropriate and fair. If it isn’t, your attorney can help you seek a change or a “modification” of the court order.

Unlike child support, which virtually everyone agrees is important, spousal support is a controversial topic both inside the courtroom as well as in the court of public opinion.

Some would say that if a marriage has endured for a decade or more, alimony should be permanent. Others are critics who would abolish spousal support altogether.


In a California divorce, when one partner in the marriage has not worked outside the home or has worked only part-time in order to raise children and/or support the other partner’s career, that partner may seek spousal support.

The sum that a court awards will hinge on each divorcing partner’s marital and financial history, income, debts, and assets.

During a divorce, if spouses can mutually agree about alimony, a court will usually accept their agreement. But when alimony is in dispute, the court will determine the terms and conditions of the alimony arrangement.

When divorcing partners can agree on an alimony arrangement or on other areas of potential dispute, they save time and legal fees, and they avoid the acrimony and aggravation of having the dispute played out in a courtroom.

In some California divorces, spousal support is ordered temporarily; in other divorces in this state, spousal support is called “permanent.”

As a general rule, when a marriage has lasted less than ten years, the alimony is temporary, and payments last for half the length of the marriage.

For longer marriages, generally speaking, no time limit for alimony payments is imposed and the alimony is considered “permanent.”


But even “permanent” alimony usually does not last for life. When either ex-partner’s life situation changes after a divorce, either ex can request a modification of the court order that spells out the alimony arrangement.

In southern California, a Long Beach divorce attorney can help you request an alimony modification.

If you’ve been ordered to make spousal support payments by a California court, the one thing that you cannot do is to stop making payments.

It does not matter if you’ve lost your job or if you’ve been unable to work due to an injury. You must request a modification of the spousal support order.

If you stop making alimony payments, you could be subject to severe legal action.

What can an ex-spouse do if he or she isn’t receiving the spousal support ordered by the court?

If your ex isn’t paying you what the court has ordered, you may have to return to the court accompanied by a qualified Long Beach family law attorney.

You and your attorney will have to offer evidence that your ex has not paid or has not paid completely or on time. If your ex-partner’s delinquency is causing financial hardship, you’ll be able to explain that to a judge.


An ex-spouse’s failure to pay court-ordered alimony payments can have considerable legal consequences in California.

The court can order a wage garnishment, where a percentage of your ex-spouse’s wages is automatically diverted to you through the court.

The court can also levy your ex-partner’s bank account and intercept his or her tax refunds.

If your ex-spouse still does not comply with the alimony order and make payments as scheduled, a judge can hold your ex in contempt of court, and in some cases, even order jail time. Drastic legal measures, however, are not always necessary.

A family lawyer may be able to help you as a negotiator or as a mediator, and in many cases, an acceptable agreement can be reached with your ex without legal pressure.

If your ex-spouse is already delinquent and currently owes you alimony, do not make any private arrangement with your ex regarding the delinquent payments.

Once a divorce is finalized, a judgment or a settlement is in place, and if an alimony order has been issued by the court, an unofficial alimony agreement will have no legal status and will not be enforceable.


Ex-partners who pay spousal support often ask the court to end that support after a number of years, and that request is often granted.

When spousal support is no longer needed or is no longer appropriate, the ex-spouse who has been paying spousal support has every right to request a court order terminating that support.

Spouses intending to divorce in California should also know that if you are seeking spousal support, and if you have a criminal conviction for domestic violence within the preceding five years, the law in California law grants judges the discretion to deny a spousal support request or to reduce the amount that an ex-spouse would otherwise be eligible to receive.

If you need legal representation right now to help you obtain the spousal support payments that a court has ordered, speak at once with a Long Beach divorce attorney who routinely helps clients enforce or modify spousal support orders.

During and after a divorce, effective legal representation is not only imperative – it’s also your legal right.

Top 10 Reasons for Divorce

Posted on: June 23, 2017 by in Divorce
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The divorce rate is still high in the United States, and even though millions of people have divorced, for those who are single or happily married, the reasons people get divorced can be hard to grasp.

The top ten reasons people divorce are listed below, along with some warning signs and red flags that couples need to recognize early if they want to remain happily married.

If it’s too late for that in your own situation, and divorce is inevitable or the only choice, speak at once with a team of skilled Cerritos divorce attorneys.

A humor website recently posted the “twelve craziest reasons why people get divorced.” An elderly man in Italy divorced his equally elderly wife after he discovered she had been in an affair – seventy years ago when they were first married.

Another Italian man told the court that his wife was possessed by the Devil. A California woman reportedly divorced her husband because he voted for Donald Trump.

A thoughtful reader of these “humorous” news stories will conclude that these marriages had deeper, longer-term problems, and that the Devil and Donald Trump were merely “final straws” after years of unhappy marriage.

Understanding the real reasons why people divorce may be the first step in saving a marriage if the spouses are willing to learn from the mistakes that other couples have made. What are the real reasons why people divorce? Here are the top ten:

#1. The Extra-Marital Affair

The leading reason for divorce is still the oldest and most obvious reason – the extra-marital affair. Anger, resentment, and a lack of emotional intimacy can all play a role when one spouse cheats on the other.

Affairs often start innocently as casual friendships, according to marital expert Ruth Houston, who says, “It starts as an emotional affair which later becomes a physical affair.”

#2. Love – And the Love of Money

Money can bring people together, but it can also split them apart. Differences in spending habits and different financial goals can turn a marriage into a power struggle over who controls the money.

According to a survey conducted by Money magazine, couples fight about money twice as much as they fight about sex. And if one partner has more debt, discussions about income and spending can quickly become heated.

#3. A Failure to Communicate

Obviously, communication in marriage is imperative, and a failure to communicate effectively can create a marriage where both partners are frustrated and resentful.

Ignoring a spouse or giving a partner the “silent treatment” never builds up a marriage, and good communication is essential to any marriage that’s long and strong.

Practicing clear communication and changing old habits isn’t easy, but that’s sometimes what it takes for a marriage to flourish.

#4. The Non-Stop Argument

While some couples fail to communicate, others seem to never stop communicating – loudly and negatively. From bickering over the chores to disputes over the kids, arguments that seem like a shouting match that never ends are sure to kill a marriage.

If you’re in a partnership that’s more like an argument than a marriage, you need to seek marriage counseling before the argument is brought to a permanent conclusion – in a divorce court.

#5. Weight and Appearance

Yes, it’s unfair. And yes, it’s shallow, but the truth is that gaining weight really is a frequent reason why people divorce.

We all want our partners to look good for us, so if you’re picking up six or eight pounds a year, consider your spouse, reconsider your diet, and start working out.

Exercising regularly and adhering to a healthy diet is something that we all need to be doing anyway.

#6. Reality Sets In

Young people in particular – although not exclusively young people – often start a marriage with genuinely unreasonable, unrealistic expectations.

Your partner is someone who’s flawed and makes mistakes, someone who can sometimes be thoughtless. So are you.

Expecting perfection from someone can generate real stress, and it sets up your spouse for inevitable failures.

It’s better in the long run if you can flip your perspective and lower your expectations for your spouse. He or she is only human.

#7. The Need for – and Lack of – Intimacy

Married couples need to “feel’ something like a psychic or spiritual connection. They need intimacy, and they need to feel that intimacy. Without a feeling or sense of connection, you can feel like you’re married to a stranger – or to a mystery.

Intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean sex, and sometimes it’s hard to define, but we know what a lack of intimacy is – it’s thoughtlessness and the “cold shoulder.”

If you are constantly getting that cold shoulder, it may be time to consider a divorce.

#8. Partnership and Equality

A marriage isn’t a master-slave relationship and it isn’t a parent-child relationship either. If one partner feels forced to take on more responsibility, it can reduce that person’s view of the other partner and lead to resentment.

Every couple must learn to live as equals, sharing the challenges and responsibilities of the marriage. An unequal marriage – where one partner dominates in almost every aspect of the relationship – probably will not stand the test of time.

#9. Immaturity – At All Ages

Surveys consistently find that divorced persons feel that they were unprepared for marriage, their partner was unprepared for marriage, or they were both unprepared.

The divorce rate is highest for people who are still in their 20s, and nearly half of all divorces take place in the first ten years of a marriage.

That tells us that a lot of people really are not ready for marriage or understand what it requires.

#10. Physical or Emotional Abuse

When someone is being abused in a marriage, whether physically or emotionally, it may be time to seek a divorce. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the abuser is a “bad” person.

Most abusers have deep emotional issues that may date back to their childhoods.

Nevertheless, there is no reason to tolerate abuse, and the victim of abuse must do whatever it takes to remain safe and healthy – including, in many cases, getting a divorce.

Marriage is work, but even the best couples will face difficult challenges, and when they cannot resolve those challenges, they may choose divorce.

Address these matters early in your marriage – when they first emerge.

And if you need to obtain a divorce in Southern California, consult an experienced Cerritos divorce attorney who will make certain that your divorce is resolved justly and that you are treated fairly throughout the divorce process.