Temecula Divorce Attorney
A divorce can be an intimidating process. It’s common to hear horror stories over lengthy court battles and expensive cases, but this doesn’t have to be your reality. It’s still a good idea to develop a support system with friends and loved ones, but divorces can be made easier with a Temecula divorce lawyer.
Each divorce is different and has many complicated parts. It’s important to develop a concrete list of steps you can take to help the process move as quickly as possible. Explaining your situation to a divorce attorney can help you understand which actions may be right for you and your family.
Why Should You Choose the Najera Law Group, P.C.?
The Najera Law Group, P.C., has represented clients in Temecula for over 20 years. They have over 100 trials worth of experience, specifically in family law, legal separation, divorce, and child custody. They bring a personalized approach to their work and treat every case uniquely. If you’re considering a divorce claim and need to discuss your options, contact the Najera Law Group, P.C., for personalized care and attention.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
One of the most important parts of a divorce that determines its cost and duration is whether both parties agree on its terms. If both parties agree to the division of property and assets, this is called an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces often spend less time in court and cost less for everyone involved. A contested divorce takes longer for the parties to reach an agreement, which involves more time and money.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
Divorces are often long-term processes. With a mandatory six-month waiting period, a divorce case can impede daily routines, careers, and relationships with family. Instead of attempting to complete the process on your own, it can be helpful to contact a professional with experience in divorce cases and child custody.
An attorney can ensure that all the court filings are filled out correctly and on time. They can also provide resources on how to split financial assets or help you make a parenting plan. A supportive attorney can help lessen the already heavy burden of divorce.
The Divorce Process
Each divorce is different and includes different elements, depending on the situation. However, divorce proceedings generally follow a similar order:
- File the Paperwork: If you are eligible for divorce by meeting the Temecula residency requirements, you can file a petition for divorce with the court. To file the paperwork, you must include information about the marriage and what decisions you need the court to make. These can include decisions about splitting property, child custody, and spousal support.
- Bring the Papers to Your Spouse: In Temecula, you are not allowed to physically hand your spouse divorce papers. You must either find a server to give them the papers on your behalf or mail them to the recipient. If they are mailed, the recipient has to sign a document verifying that they actually received them. If the recipient does not respond within 30 days, it is considered a default divorce, and the court is entitled to make decisions for them.
- Finalize the Details: If the recipient does not default, you can move on to clarifying specific details of the divorce. People often determine how assets like property and debts are split, who is responsible for childcare and custody, and whether one spouse needs financial support from the other.
- Re-submit to the Court: After you submit the final forms to the court, a judge will review them to ensure that they are legally correct. Then, they will deliver a judgment. This process will take at least six months from the day you file these forms. After the mandatory six-month waiting period, and if the forms are accurate, the divorce is officially finalized.
California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that the divorce process can be started at any time. Neither spouse has to prove that the other spouse did anything wrong before initiating a divorce.
If a divorce involves children, the courts in Temecula require a parenting plan. While they do not require a standard plan, the plan must include:
- Physical Custody: The parenting plan must include where the child is going to live and who is responsible for their care. Physical custody can be held by either one or both parents, and the plan may include a schedule if the parents are alternating physical custody.
- Legal Custody: The plan must also include who can legally make decisions for your child. This can involve one or both parents.
A child is allowed to express their preference on who has custody over them if they are 14 or older.
While not legally necessary, it is often helpful to include:
- Specifics on Exchanging Children: It’s a good idea to add details on who will be picking up or dropping off the children. If external childcare, like a babysitter, is needed, you can also add a requirement in your parenting plan to contact the other parent before hiring a babysitter.
- Expenses and Insurance: A parenting plan should address how costs associated with children are divided and which parent’s insurance plan they will be on. These are additional details that are useful to think about before they actually occur.
If a unified plan can’t be agreed on by both parties, a judge will decide on one for the family after hearing from both parties in court. If child support is needed to make caring for the child equitable, it will be calculated by a commissioner or a judge.
If a couple is legally separated, they are technically still married. The main function of a legal separation is for a court of law to divide a couple’s assets and financial affairs, including childcare responsibilities, the division of property, and splitting debts. This may be helpful for:
- Financial Benefits: If a couple is legally separated, they may still be entitled to each other’s financial benefits, including their insurance policy.
- Those Who Don’t Yet Qualify for Divorce: Temecula has a residency requirement for divorce but not legal separation. Those who have lived in Riverside County for less than three months or in California for less than six months cannot get divorced, but they can legally separate.
- Shorter Waiting Period: The state of California has a required six-month waiting period until a couple is officially divorced. This is meant to give them time to settle their differences before the divorce is finalized. Couples who want to avoid this waiting period may be interested in a legal separation.
Whether you choose to legally separate or divorce, working with an attorney can streamline the process. They can also help you review your options so you can understand which choice is right for you and your family.
What Is an Annulment?
If you are unsure whether your marriage was official, but you still want to end the partnership, you might qualify for an annulment. Here are a few key differences specifically pertaining to annulments:
- If you are granted an annulment, the marriage is legally erased from the record because it was invalid in the first place. If a couple is divorced, there is still a legal record that the couple was married at one point.
- In annulments, assets, debts, and property cannot be as easily divided as they can in a divorce. The division of assets is easier if there is a putative spouse. This spouse must have believed that the marriage was valid and can request that the judge divide assets for them.
- Divorces will often be settled differently, depending on how long the couple was married before getting a divorce. In annulments, the length of the marriage doesn’t impact whether an annulment will be granted because it has no effect on the validity of the marriage.
Common reasons for annulment include bigamy (which means that one person was married to someone else before the annulled marriage) and incest. Annulments are also possible for marriages where one spouse was coerced into a union or one spouse misrepresented themselves to the other. There are specific deadlines for annulments, so if this is something you are considering, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
What Are My Options?
Working with a family lawyer takes a lot of the pressure off the two divorcing parties, but it is not the only option. There are multiple ways to work through a divorce:
- Self-Serve: Even though this option can be complicated and take more time than other options, it is possible to file all the divorce paperwork yourself. This is made significantly harder if you or your spouse disagree on the division of assets or have children.
- Summary Dissolution: Certain marriages qualify for a summary dissolution and do not require going to trial. If you have been married for fewer than five years, have no children together, and have relatively few assets and/or debts, you might qualify for a summary dissolution. This can be done with or without the help of a lawyer.
- Mediation: If you’re interested in avoiding a lengthy court battle, mediation could be a solution. This process involves a third-party mediator attempting to help the two parties agree on the terms of the divorce. This mediator can be a lawyer, but mediators cannot give legal advice. Mediation is often required in California if a couple has children and needs to work out custody.
- Collaborative Divorce: This option utilizes the unique skills of a lawyer while avoiding the courtroom. In a collaborative divorce, each party works with an attorney outside of court to fairly divide assets. There’s always the option to go to trial if a collaborative divorce doesn’t work out, but this option can reduce some of the anxiety of going to court.
- Trial: This is the most well-known divorce option. It is popular among people in contested divorces who might have assets that are difficult to divide or children. While this is the most expensive option, it can be helpful for spouses who are unable to work together.
FAQs About Temecula, CA Divorce Lawyer
How Much Does a Divorce Cost in California With a Lawyer?
In Temecula, getting a divorce with the help of an attorney can vary in price. Uncontested divorces tend to go faster and cost less money than contested divorces. Each lawyer charges different amounts and has different retainer fees, but the average Californian spends around $17,500 on a divorce with a lawyer.
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get a Divorce in California?
There is no legal requirement to hire a lawyer to get a divorce in California. Some cheaper options include filing the paperwork yourself, working with a professional mediator, or trying a collaborative divorce. If you choose to handle all the divorce proceedings yourself, the fee to file the paperwork in Temecula is $435.
What Is the 5-Year Rule for Divorce in California?
The “5-year rule” is exclusively for summary dissolutions. In Temecula, if you have been married for fewer than 5 years, have no children, and do not own property, you may qualify for a summary dissolution and not have to go to trial. Your debts must be less than $6,000 (excluding auto loans), and your assets must be less than $47,000 jointly. If you think you may qualify for a summary dissolution, contact an attorney to review your options.
Is Everything Split 50-50 in a Divorce in California?
California is a 50-50 divorce state, which means that assets are split halfway between both parties. This rule specifically applies to assets that were obtained during the marriage. This rule does have some exceptions and may be applied differently, depending on the length of the marriage. If you’re worried about keeping specific assets during a divorce, it may be worth contacting a lawyer for assistance.
There are a lot of choices to make in a divorce. If you are unsure of the right decisions to make for your unique situation, contact the Najera Law Group, P.C., for an individual appointment. We can help protect your interests throughout the divorce process.