Frequently Asked Questions

Family Law F.A.Qs:

How long does it take to get divorced?

It takes a minimum of 6 months from the date the initial documents are served to get your judgment of dissolution of marriage aka divorce. It is important to know though that it can take the court several weeks to process the judgment after submitting it to the Court.

Does my spouse have to be personally served?

The initial documents must be personally served on the other party by anyone over the age of 18 other than you. However, if the other party is willing you can avoid the need for personal service by having the other party sign a document know as the notice of acknowledgement and receipt.

What happens if my spouse does not respond after I serve them?

If after 30 days of being served the other party has not responded and you have completed and served your preliminary declaration of disclosures you can petition the court to default your spouse and proceed forward with the case without your spouse’s participation.

How can I ensure the other parent pays his or her child support obligation?

You can file a wage withholding order with the Court to get the parent’s employer to pay you directly by garnishing their paycheck. If the parent is self-employed you can register the order with Department of Child Support Services and they can levy bank accounts, intercept taxes returns, suspend licenses, and utilize other means to ensure payment.

Do I have to see a judge even if my spouse want to work out an agreement outside of Court?

No. However, you can have an attorney draft up the agreement and file it with the Court to ensure it is an enforceable order. You always want to make sure you have an enforceable order so that if issues arise in the future it is a clear enough order the police can enforce it if necessary.

What is an MSA?

The MSA is a Marital Settlement Agreement that indicates how all issues in the dissolution or legal separation matter will be decided.

Can I take custody of my grandchild if neither of the parents are currently able to care for them?

Yes. In order to establish your custodial rights over the child you must file a petition for guardianship so that you can legally have rights over decision making about the child’s life and to become the legal guardian of the child, either temporally or permanently depending on the circumstance of the case.

How many days before the wedding do I have to sign the pre-marital agreement?

In California the minimum is 7 days but 30 days is highly suggested.  The more days between signing and the wedding the better.

How long will I get alimony or spousal support?

If the marriage is less than 10 years in length the standard is a period of half the length of the marriage. If the marriage is longer than 10 years the Court will often not set a termination date.

What if I owned my home before my spouse and I got married, is my spouse entitled to any portion of the home?

Even if you owned the home before the marriage your spouse may be entitled to a reimbursement to the community of the pay down of the principal of the mortgage and the increase in value of the property. A Moore/Marsden calculation is required. A professional like a financial analyst usually conducts these calculations. Likewise, there are other reimbursement claims like improvements to the property that can be raised.

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