How Does Divorce Work in California?
Protecting Your Best Interests During the Divorce Process
Filing for (and finalizing) a divorce is a complex legal process that often takes a significant amount of time, resources, and stress. Having an experienced lawyer at your side can help you pursue an outcome that benefits you in both the short and long-term.
At Feinberg & Waller, our Calabasas lawyers have more than a decade helping clients navigate the divorce process. We'll advocate for your rights and help you develop an effective case strategy to achieve your goals.
Grounds for Divorce in California
To file for divorce in California, at least one party must have been a resident of the state for at least six months.
California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you can simply cite "irreconcilable differences" as grounds for divorce when filing to dissolve your marriage. However, the court may consider other factors such as adultery or domestic violence during divorce-related processes such as child custody or spousal support.
Uncontested Vs. Contested Divorce in California
The process of actually filing for divorce varies depending on whether you file for a contested or uncontested divorce.
To file for an uncontested divorce, the parties must agree on terms for the divorce. This involves drafting an agreement that lays out the terms for the divorce, which the court can then approve to finalize the divorce.
If the parties disagree on any element of the divorce, they must file for a contested divorce instead. Typically, once a party files for a contested divorce, one of two things happens:
- The parties engage in a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation, to resolve their differences. If successful, they can draft an agreement and file for an uncontested divorce.
- The parties fail to negotiate and choose to litigate the divorce in court. After each party presents their case, the court makes a final decision and drafts a legally binding divorce decree containing terms for processes such as custody, child and spousal support, property division, etc.
The person who intends to file for a divorce is called the "petitioner," as they file a petition for divorce to initiate the process. To file for divorce, you must obtain divorce paperwork and file them with the county court. You can fill out the paperwork by yourself, but an attorney can make the process easier. Filling out the paperwork involves gathering and submitting various information to the court, including tax returns, bank statements, mortgage statements, real estate deeds, car registration, and more.
After filling out and filing the documents with the court, a third party, such as a process server or sheriff, must serve the other party (the "respondent") with a copy of the divorce petition. After being served, the respondent must file a Response and Acknowledgment Receipt to begin the divorce process.
How Long Will My Divorce Take?
A factor that can impact the length and cost of your divorce significantly:
- The number of factors playing a role in the divorce. For example, if assets of considerable value or children play a role in the divorce, it may take longer to finalize.
Divorce is one of the most complex divorce-related processes, and having an attorney you can rely on by your side is crucial to obtain the best result.
At Feinberg & Waller, APC, our attorneys have more than a decade of experience helping clients navigate complex divorces. We'll help you find the best path forward in your divorce, advocating for your rights and best interests.
Certified Family Law Specialists
We have three certified family law specialists on our team. A certified family law specialist must pass a rigorous exam, fulfill mandated ongoing educational requirements, been favorably evaluated by peer review, and show at least a five-year focus and proficiency in family law.
At Feinberg & Waller, APC all the attorneys attend monthly team performance strategic planning sessions to execute and deploy tactical case management objectives. Clients receive added value as they are never charged for more than two of the attorneys during these meetings, yet the partners and associates together brainstorm on each matter within the firm.
Role of the General Counsel
The office of Feinberg & Waller, APC has a general counsel whose role is to focus on law firm management, corporate governance, and business policy. The litigation attorneys are then able to focus on your matter rather than having to concentrate on running the business aspect of a law firm.
Outstanding National and International Reputation
Firm shareholder, Marshall Waller is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He is also a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. Fellows are recognized as having advanced skills in family law and are recognized leaders in the field.
Our Intake Process helps us determine if we can handle your matter while managing the needs of our existing clients.
Our Case Intake manager will ask you basic questions. Feinberg & Waller, APC limits the number of cases we accept because we’ve found that selectivity advances our commitment to excellence.
After the intake process, we run a conflict check to make sure we have not spoken with the other party in your matter in the past. If we determine that there is no conflict, our case intake manager will go over the range in fees , from our Paralegals at $195/hr, to our Associate Attorneys starting at $250/hr, and our Certified Family Law Specialists (CFLS) starting at $495/hr.
We will schedule your consultation with one of Feinberg & Waller, APC Certified Family Law Specialists. A CFLS has gone through a rigorous process of proven qualifications. If you find yourself in the position where you need to speak to an attorney immediately, you may schedule an initial consultation with Marshall Waller through our "Schedule Consultation" links.