Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California, and Board of Legal Specialization

There are no two ways about this.  Divorce can be an ugly experience.  You might have felt like you had no choice but to initiate or you might have been blindsided by having been served.  My goal is to help you make wise decisions about this process so you can move on with your life with the least amount of emotional pain as possible.

 Whether your split is amicable or high conflict, I am the Agoura Hills divorce lawyer who could help you. I can help you navigate this challenging period and protect your interests throughout the process. The body of California divorce law can be particularly complex, so it is vital to work with an experienced family law attorney who can handle all aspects of your case and advocate for you during the end of your marriage.

Requirements to File for Divorce

Before one can file for divorce, the law requires that at least one party has resided in the state for six months and the county of residence for at least three months.  If you bring your divorce case to my law office in Agoura Hills, we can determine if your case fits those requirements.  If not, then we can always file for Legal Separation and change it to a divorce case later.

Property Division During a Divorce Case

One of the main issues divorcing couples have is how the court will divide their property once the marriage ends. California is a community property state, which means that each party owns a one-half interest in the property acquired during marriage except by inheritance, gifts or devise. Both spouses are entitled to the management and control of community assets. Simply put, in a community property state, the assets obtained throughout the marriage are divided and distributed in a manner such that each party ends up with approximately one half,  and this may or may not depend on other factors. A consultation with a local divorce attorney could help shed light on this.

Certain property types, such as those purchased separately by either party before marriage are considered separate property and are not generally included in the division of assets, but there are exceptions. If a couple entered into a prenuptial agreement before they married, this would constitute a deviation from the community property system, so it is important to determine whether the agreement is enforceable.

Additionally, there may be circumstances in which assets that were initially the sole property of one spouse were transmuted into community property. Sometimes, determining the full extent of a couple’s property and distinguishing separate assets from community property may require a tracing.

An example of how this issue arises is if one spouse purchased a home prior to marriage, but community property funds earned during marriage paid down the mortgage or community property funds were deposited into a separate property bank account or vice versa.

Alternatively, if both spouses are on the title as Joint Tenants, this is still community property, but one party is entitled to the other person’s half if they die. Simply put, Husband and Wife own their home in Joint Tenancy, and they are going through a divorce. However, Husband dies during the divorce. This means that in general, Wife gets all of Husband’s interest in the house, but there are exceptions.  Retirement benefits also can be part of the community property estate. These benefits can be in the form of pensions, 401Ks, IRAs or life insurance policies with cash value.

If a couple is going through an amicable divorce and they can rationally decide how to divide and distribute their assets this can make the property division process considerably smoother.  More often than not, the Court will sign on to any agreements between the parties.  If you consult with me at my Agoura Hills office, we can discuss this issue or any other.

Custody and Support Concerns During the End of Marriage

Child custody and child support can be very difficult issues in high conflict divorce cases. Courts do not have a preference for joint or sole custody.  Rather, the law imposes upon them a duty to make orders that are in the best interests of the children.  Judges are also mindful that the parents are adults and should jointly make that determination.  In other words, Judges are of the opinion that since you both love your children, you will set your differences aside and make decisions that are best for them.

When it comes to child support, the parent who does not have primary custody typically makes support payments; however, each divorce case is different.  The respective wages of each parent and each party’s parenting schedule play significant roles in how support is calculated.  If you are going through a divorce, one of our attorneys in your area can perform a support calculation which is the same formula used in Court.

Spousal Support

The judge also may order one party to pay spousal support to the other individual. Factors such as the length of the marriage, health, age, earning capacity and tax consequences are some but not all of the factors the Court looks at in awarding spousal support.

The spousal support end date can be at the judge’s discretion if the couple was married ten years or longer before divorcing. Alternatively, someone who was married for a shorter time may only have to pay alimony for a limited time after the end of the marriage. Spousal support is intended to help a party transition from married to single life while maintaining the standard of living enjoyed by both parties.

Contact an Agoura Hills Divorce Attorney

If you are facing the dissolution of your marriage, come to my office.  I am an experienced Agoura Hills divorce lawyer with a Family Law Specialist certification. I can answer all of your legal questions and help you make wise and effective decisions for your case.  Our team of caring and dedicated attorneys are ready to help you through this major life transition. Call our office today to arrange your confidential case consultation.

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Hoffer Family Law Firm