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

When you are considering ending your marriage, this is a serious matter that you should discuss with someone you trust. Fortunately, a Los Angeles County divorce lawyer could provide an honest assessment of your unique situation. The main goal of a skilled family law attorney is to provide straight yet compassionate answers that guide you through filing for divorce, helping it go as smoothly as possible.

Divorce Court in LA County

If an individual is thinking of filing for divorce in Los Angeles County, there are certain preparations they should make before going to court with an attorney. First, they must determine if they qualify to file for a dissolution in this area. To qualify, one spouse must have lived in California for at least six months and in LA County for three months prior to filing.

An individual must then file their divorce papers with the clerk at the Superior Court. The spouse filing must serve the other with these papers. This can be done by a friend, the sheriff, a relative, or a professional process server. Whoever serves these papers must be 18 years or older.

Dividing Marital Property During a Legal Separation

Unlike most jurisdictions, LA divorce courts are required by state law to divide marital property under a community property statute. Under the law of community property, the court must divide the marital assets evenly between the two spouses, regardless of the financial status of either party at the time of divorce. The process starts with the court evaluating every asset the couple owns. Each asset is given a dollar value which is then used to determine the final split.

It is worth noting that not every asset in the couple’s possession is divided upon divorce. Only marital assets are split between the parties, with each spouse retaining ownership of their separate property. There is a presumption under state law that property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be marital. However, assets acquired before the marriage or after separation are not. This presumption can be rebutted by evidence. Importantly, certain assets are always treated as separate property even when they are obtained during a marriage, such as family inheritance or personal injury settlements. A lawyer in Los Angeles County could help someone fight for their share of the marital assets during the divorce process.

Are Child Custody Disputes Resolved During a Divorce?

Child custody disputes are also resolved in divorce court. Unlike issues of property division, custody of a child is not always split evenly between the two parents. Instead, courts are bound by the “best interest of the child.” This means that while parents have certain rights, decisions regarding child custody must be made with the child’s best interest in mind.

There are two types of custody the court must decide one: physical and legal. Physical custody is the right to decide where a child lives, whereas legal custody is the right to make vital decisions regarding a child’s religious upbringing, education, and healthcare.

Typically, the courts prefer joint custody when it is in the child’s best interest. This usually involves developing a parenting plan that sets out the specific times a child is with each parent. These plans can cover every detail down to specific weekends, school night dinners, or summer vacations.

If the parties agree on the terms of a parenting plan, the court is likely to accept it. However, the court is under no obligation to do so. A judge must act in the best interest of the child. Resolving disputes regarding children might be difficult in a divorce case, but a qualified Los Angeles County attorney could help a parent through this process.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles County Divorce Attorney

If you are thinking about ending your marriage, you should first speak with an experienced legal professional who could help you get the outcome you are looking for. Contact a Los Angeles County divorce lawyer today to learn more about our approach. We could provide honest counsel during this emotional time.

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Hoffer Family Law Firm

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