FAQ Section

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Knowledge is power. However, since many issues relate to each other, nothing can replace a face-to-face consultation with an experienced family law attorney. For example: If the other party moves out of the house, do I need to pay all of the mortgage? Will I be charged a fair market rental value? What if they are paying the mortgage instead of paying me direct support? A discussion of Watts charges and an analysis of support needs to be examined in detail so there are no surprises at the conclusion of the case.

Family Law FAQs

Responses here are geared toward California Family Law.


You need an attorney the minute you are considering your rights. In dissolution actions, often times the other party will empty the accounts, cancel credit cards and change beneficiaries before filing their action. It is against the automatic restraining orders that come into play once the Petition is filed and yet as offensive as it is, it is common. At least have a consultation with your family law attorney before making any announcements and before taking action that will offend your court.


First, you should choose an attorney whose practice is 90 percent family law. Many attorneys like to dabble in family law, thinking that it is easy. However, family law is one of the most complex and ever changing areas of the law. We have be able to determine business cash flow analysis, know tax implications of transactions and support, be a counselor and guide, residence sales, retirement options, negotiations and a plethora of other skills. Secondly, you should choose an attorney with whom you can communicate easily, who will understand what you need and take the time to listen to your concerns.


Some couples split with a vengeance. Their divorce strategy is to make the other party as miserable as possible by blocking settlement agreements, contesting visitation and being just plain difficult. To get personally involved in this sort of petty bickering is pointless that’s what you attorney is for. Attorneys love that sort of thing, by the way. That’s how they spend their day. Arguing. They’re good at it. No you don’t understand- they’re reeaally good at it. If your soon-to-be ex-spouse is being difficult, the right attorney can get you things you’ve only dreamed of.


Child Custody Issues FAQs

A good attorney will educate you and coach you on how to achieve your custody goals all the while remaining child focused.


A divorce where children are involved instantly raises the issues of child custody and visitation. Compromise on this issues is not only important for the children, but also makes you look good to the Court. Why does that even matter, you say? Because the Court makes it decisions based not only on the facts, but also the demeanor and flexibility of both parties. If you come into Court in a t-shirt, blasted on cheap hooch, and howling stridently about how your spouse has destroyed your life, you may set for a fine career in Blues music, but chances are you won’t be seeing much of your kids. First the Court is going to consider what pattern of visitation and custodial contact have the parties set into motion on their own. Secondly, the Court is going to consider awarding custody to the parent that is most likely to allowing frequent and continuing contact with the other parent. Active parental alienation and/or refusals of visitation can lead to the court reducing your time with your children or terminating contact altogether.


Depending on the age of the children and the amount of past contact with them, the Court will provide a regular visitation and custodial schedule, a schedule for legal and school holidays and summer sharing. Orange County Superior Court, Mediation department has a proposed schedule which can be obtained on the 5th floor of the Family Law Courthouse or you may call our offices and we will be happy to send you a courtesy copy. (949) 582-5115


After separation, begin a pattern of contact with your children which works for you, your work schedule and your children and their activities. Maintain a calendar keeping track of all of your custodial periods so that you can remember the pattern of contact when asked by the court. Keep in mind that this calendar may be used to refresh your recollection in court and the other parent may review it before it is used in court, so keep derogatory comments somewhere else.

The courts frequently appoint a child custody evaluator to assist the court in making a child custody and visitation schedule and recommendations. The evaluator may interview parties, interview collateral references, do a “home study” or conduct psychological exams. The child custody evaluation is then submitted to the court in writing before the hearing and sent also to the attorneys for review. Please note that this document is kept confidential from the parties in most instances.


Community Property FAQs

All property acquired during marriage is community property. There are exceptions and there may be property that is separate but that it has a community property interest. Make a list of all of your asset and debts and bring it to you consultation to get the best advice.


The Date of Separation is the date one of the parties no longer intended to remain married. Yes! This is difficult to determine. Usually it is the date that one of the parties moved out of the family residence, but that is not always the case. Perhaps one spouse moved into a different bedroom…perhaps it’s the date that they went to talk to an attorney…or the day that they got their own bank account and said it was over. Make note of significant occurrences so that when you do file, you will know the Date of Separation.

It is the date from which all of the assets and debts are divided. For example all of your income and earnings after that date are yours along with all of your retirement contributions.


Yes, they will. Unless one party agrees to allow the other party to buy it at market value. Even then they will need to refinance the mortgage and remove the other party’s name from the encumbrance. There is an old case in the law, called a Duke order. In rare instances the court may give you time to refinance the home if there are minor children or the other party agrees. Examine all of your options.


Although the pension won’t be in pay status until you are of retirement age and it’s vested, the court has the power to divide the unvested pension now under the Brown formula. It is considered a community investment. You may be able to buy-out the other party’s interest and the use of an actuarial will determine the present day value of that asset.


Discovery FAQs

During your case you will need to provide information about your assets and debts, income and expenses and more. Every case has basic discovery that is required before your Judgment will be valid. There is also additional discovery that is recommended (Demand for Production of Documents) and some that is necessary (Accountant for a business evaluation). Here are some facts to help you understand discovery.


In every family law matter, the court requires each party to exchange information about what assets or debts they are aware of and what are their income and expenses. Until these legal forms have been completed, any settlement or Judgment is not valid. In every ongoing case, there is a right to discoverable evidence that is relevant to the case. In family law, information regarding the assets and debts of the parties is discoverable in order to ensure that there is a fair and equitable division of the community estate. Also, unlike other areas of law, your Federal and State Tax Returns are discoverable by the other party.


If one party has knowledge of an asset and intentionally fails to disclose it in their Schedule of Assets and Debts, you may be able to have that asset awarded to you alone, due to their fraud. Also, if an asset is just overlooked, the case may be reopened on only that issue and the asset divided by the court even after trial is over.


Types of discovery are unlimited. There are many ways to find information including but never limited to: Demand for Production of Documents, Form Interrogatories (written questions), Depositions (oral questions), Demand for Entry (into a house or safety deposit box), Request for Admissions, Civil Subpoena Duces Tecum (documents from a third party – bank etc.) and so on. Most cases only need 1 or 2 but it depends on what you want to know.

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