We pride ourselves on making sure our clients are fully educated throughout their divorce proceedings.
To start, here are some of the most commonly asked questions that our clients ask us:

How does mediation work in the dissolution of a marriage?

Though the end of a marriage is usually a difficult and painful process, it does not always have to be contentious. Mediation can be an attractive option, particularly if both parties have some goals in common. A family law mediator can help both sides create their own compromises for a mutually agreeable result—including custody agreements and the equitable division of assets. Mediation is often months faster and much less expensive than going to court.

Is mediation confidential?

Yes, anything discussed during an official mediation is considered confidential, and for good reason. Confidentiality promotes an honest and safe environment in which compromises and agreements can be made in good faith. Both parties can share information with the confidence that their negotiation is just between them and the mediator. Anything said during the mediation is later inadmissible in court. This is known as the mediation privilege.

When is litigation necessary?
When is mediation the better answer?

Unfortunately, the two parties involved in a divorce cannot always come to an agreement. Divorce is a serious process with extremely high stakes—the division of assets, alimony or child support, and custody decisions about your children. In this arena, if no agreement can be reached, then litigation is absolutely necessary to protect your interests.

If, on the other hand, you feel you can reach a compromise with the other party, and have confidence that you share many common goals, then mediation might be a better option. Parties can avoid a courtroom battle in mediation, typically saving months of time and thousands of dollars.

How is alimony and child support calculated?

The court looks at a host of factors to determine what the appropriate amount would be for alimony or child support payments.

This might include both parties’ current and future earning capacities, marketable skills, the employment situation of both parties during the marriage, whether one spouse contributed to the education or skill-set of the other, the supporting spouse’s assets, the amount of debt incurred in the marriage, the duration of the marriage, health (including age) and wellness of both parties, any criminal convictions, the age and health of the children involved, and many other factors.

A family law attorney is essential in helping negotiate the finer details of what these amounts should be.

If I am married for 10 years or longer, am I guaranteed spousal support for life?

It is not exactly a “guarantee.” If you have been married 10 years or longer, California law does grant the right for the spouse that makes less income to be paid alimony until death or remarriage, as long as the other partner can pay. However, there are other factors that can affect the amount and duration of your alimony award, including the assets, property, and earning capacities of both parties.

On the other hand, if you have been married less than 10 years, you are usually granted an alimony period that is half the length of the marriage.

How does property get divided in California?

In California, once you are married, most anything you acquire during the marriage is community property. That means that in the eyes of the court during a divorce, the property must be divided equally. However, often there is contention of what amount constitutes “half” – so there is negotiating involved in determining what is the “equal” division of property. Each side is going to argue the numbers in a way that is more beneficial to them.

There are some exceptions. If you have inherited or been gifted property before (or sometimes even during) the marriage, that is considered separate property and belongs only to you.

Some couples opt to create a prenuptial agreement before the marriage because they would like to keep their property and assets separate.

Would I ever have to pay my spouse’s legal fees?

It is possible. California family law allows the lower earning spouse to ask the court to order the higher earning spouse to pay attorney’s fees. This is fairly common.

How long does a divorce typically take?

The length of divorce proceedings can vary greatly, often depending on how many issues are in contention. Typically, a divorce process can last anywhere from a few months to several years. If there are sizeable assets or multiple properties, it takes longer to determine how everything should be divided.

I have primary custody. Can I move wherever I want?

The short answer is no, not without permission. You are bound by whatever custody arrangement the court has decided, and that includes factors such as where you currently live and the visitation rights of your ex-spouse. The court's number one consideration is the best interests of the child. If you wish to move, you will have to seek permission from the court. Violating a custody order has serious consequences.