Divorce Overview

Hossein BerenjiSometimes relationships just don’t work out the way you would have hoped. While making the decision to get a divorce can be difficult, it may be what is best for you and your family. As you begin a new chapter of your life, it is important to know which legal options may be best for you. The Los Angeles divorce attorneys at Berenji & Associates are here to help you navigate through this trying time.

Our attorneys have over 25 years of combined experience. We have helped hundreds of families across Los Angeles navigate their most personal family law matters. When children are affected by your divorce it is even more important to hire a compassionate attorney. Call us today to schedule a consultation with our compassionate legal team.

Divorce Practice Areas

Our law firm has a proven track record of successfully handling all divorce issues including:

Understanding Divorce in California

When you make the decision to end your marriage, you will probably have to go through the legal process of divorce. During this process, you and your spouse must negotiate the terms of your split. Once you have successfully navigated the process, a court will review the request to dissolve your marriage. If you’ve completed all the steps it will enter a final judgment of divorce.

California Family Code §2300 explains that this final judgment “restore[s] the parties to the state of unmarried persons.” Put simply: divorce nullifies your marriage and makes you single once again. When you are single, you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits extended to married couples.

Ending a Same-Sex Marriage

Thanks to the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, all same-sex couples across the nation have the right to get married. In California, those same-sex couples also have the right to dissolve the legal relationship. If you are thinking about ending your same-sex marriage, it is important to contact an attorney. Divorce, regardless of the composition of your marriage, can be a complicated process. Our legal team will make sure that your rights are protected and your needs are met. Call us today to learn more

Residency Requirements for Divorce

If you want to get a divorce in California you will have to satisfy the state’s residency requirements. This refers to the physical ties that you must have with the state and county in which you are seeking a divorce. In order to get a divorce in Los Angeles, you must satisfy the requirements in Family Code §2320:

  • Resident of California: 6 months prior to petition
  • Resident of Los Angeles County: 3 months prior to petition.

Only one spouse must satisfy these residency requirements.

Residency Requirements for Same-Sex Couples

The rules may be slightly different for same-sex couples who are want to separate or get divorced. In most cases, you must have been married in the state of California. If you are living in a different state, California can only end your marriage if your current state refuses to do so.

Divorce Waiting Period

It’s important to understand that your divorce will not happen overnight. Family Code §2339 explains that you have to wait at least six months to have your divorce finalized. The six-month clock usually starts to run when the non-filing spouse has been served with divorce papers.

Grounds for Divorce in California

California is what is known as a “no fault” divorce state. This means that spouses can get divorced without pointing fingers and blaming the other for ending the marriage. One benefit of this is it can help spouses approach the divorce more amicably. You work together to negotiate the terms fairly without bad feelings.

What are the grounds for getting a divorce if proof of fault is not required? There are two primary grounds for divorce: irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity.

Irreconcilable Differences. This simply means that there differences between the two spouses that will not change over the course of the marriage. Irreconcilable differences is a “catch-all” for all reasons that spouses may want to get a divorce.

Incurable Insanity. Divorce can also be granted if one spouse suffers from a mental condition that cannot be cured. You’ll have to prove that the mental condition exists and that the spouse will not recover.

Scope of Divorce Proceedings

Getting a divorce involves more than deciding that you and your spouse no longer want to be married. Before your divorce can be finalized, you will have to agree on the terms of your split. Issues that may have to be decided during your divorce include:

Sometimes you and your spouse won’t be able to see eye-to-eye. If this happens, the court has the authority to step in and make decisions on your behalf. You will be required to comply with any decisions the court may make.

There are many issues that can coincide with a divorce. It is important to have an experienced Los Angeles family law attorney by your side throughout the process. At Berenji & Associates, our attorneys are prepared to help you with any family law matters, including:

Call us today to schedule your case assessment. We would be happy to review your specific situation and determine which legal options may be best for you.

Starting Your Divorce

The process formally starts with one party, called the petitioner, filing the appropriate forms at the courthouse. Next, the other spouse or partner must be formally served with the court papers. The person being served is called the respondent. The respondent has to decide whether to file a response. Any response must be filed within 30 days of the respondent being served by the petitioner.

The parties then have to exchange financial information. This is called a ”preliminary declaration of disclosure.”

The parties may be able to wrap things up fairly quickly, or there may be years of motions and hearings until the final divorce is granted.

Divorce can be expensive and time-consuming. The couple may be able to save time and money by working out the terms on their own, perhaps through mediation or family law facilitator. The couple’s agreement can then be filed with the court so that it can be enforced later.

Keep in mind that Los Angeles family courts are overwhelmed with cases and encourage that parties negotiate a settlement amongst themselves. Having an experienced family law attorney can help you make wise decisions during the settlement process. Even if you cannot settle all issue, it is usually better to resolve as many issues with the opposing party before going to trial.

If a person plans to seek a divorce, he or she may be eligible for a summary dissolution. A summary dissolution is available for marriages or registered domestic partnerships that have lasted for less than five-years, if certain requirements are met. You can learn more here or by speaking to a member of our legal team.

Is a Divorce Public Record?

Yes. Just like marriage records, divorce records are public. However, you can seek a protective order to shield certain private details. Celebrities and high-net worth individuals in Los Angeles often seek a protective order to protect sensitive personal information. If you are concerned with private facts becoming public records, call our office to discuss your options.

Devices to Assist the Divorce Process

The decisions you make during your divorce will have immediate and long-lasting effects. It is always best to try to find common ground with your spouse and nail down the details of your split on your own. This allows you to maintain as much control as possible over your future.

There are certain practices that can help you and your spouse reach mutually-agreeable decisions. When used properly, these practices can save you money and will keep important decisions in your own hands.

Divorce Mediation. If you and your spouse are not far from agreeing on the terms of your divorce, mediation may be a helpful tool. Mediation uses the expertise of a neutral third party. This allows you to work out issues, see the bigger picture, and move toward solutions. At the end of mediation, the mediator will draw up a contract that reflects the decisions that have been reached. Once signed by both spouses, the contract is binding.

Collaborative Divorce. Collaborative divorce is similar to mediation. However, it requires that both spouses are represented by attorneys throughout the process. When you agree to collaborative divorce you commit to resolving your issues outside of the court system. If, for some reason, collaborative divorce isn’t successful, you’ll have to start over. In fact, you will have to find a new attorney and start from scratch.

Arbitration. Arbitration can be described as a private legal proceeding that takes place outside of the courtroom. Unlike mediation and collaborative divorce, you give up the right to make decisions about your divorce. Instead, a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, hears your arguments. They consider the facts make decisions on your behalf.

Do you need help seeing eye-to-eye with your spouse, but want to avoid the costs associated with litigation? Contact Berenji & Associates to learn more about the tools that may help you resolve issues in your divorce.

Alternatives to Divorce

There are actually three ways to end a marriage in California: dissolution, annulment, and separation. There may be certain times when divorce is not the best solution for your particular situation.

Dissolution. Dissolution refers to the process of divorce. When your divorce is finalized you will be restored as a single person in the state.

Annulment. Annulment is a tool that allows spouses to bypass the lengthy and expensive process of divorce. Annulments, when granted, state that a marriage is void. In fact, it is as if the marriage never even happened in the first place. There are very limited scenarios in which an annulment can be granted.

Separation. Do you think that you want a divorce, but you’re really not sure? Do you want to live separately from your spouse but still enjoy the benefits of marriage? Is getting a divorce a violation of your strongly-held moral or religious beliefs? You may want to consider legal separation. Separation is often the first step in getting a divorce.

Are you thinking about ending your marriage? If so, it is important to know all of the legal options that may be available to you. Contact Berenji & Associates for a consultation. Our experienced divorce attorneys can help you find the best solution for your specific needs.

Divorce Cases We Handle

Complex Property Division

You’re generally entitled to half of all marital property when you get a divorce. However, it can be challenging to figure out how to divide assets equally between you and your spouse. Arguments can erupt when you’re both adamant about getting specific assets in the divorce. Things can become more complicated when you have assets that are difficult to value, such as intellectual property and retirement benefits. You run the risk of not getting your fair share of the marital property if you try to negotiate property division on your own.

It’s always best to work with experienced legal and financial experts when dividing a complex marital estate. Our divorce attorneys will make sure that your spouse has fully disclosed all of his or her assets. Financial experts with whom we regularly work will determine what those assets are worth. Our careful analysis of your estate will help to ensure that your assets and rights are protected. Call our Los Angeles family law attorneys today to learn more.


Spousal Support

You have the right to be financially stable when you get a divorce. In fact, you even have the right to maintain the standard of living to which you grew accustomed while you were married. However, spouses rarely have identical incomes. In many cases, one spouse earns more money, while the other contributes to the family in other valuable ways. When couples get divorced, discrepancies in income can make it difficult to find financial stability. Spousal support can be awarded to help the lower-earning spouse adjust to life after divorce.

Spousal support isn’t automatically awarded in California divorces. It’s also one of the most highly contested aspects of a divorce. When it is awarded, calculating obligations can be complicated. Many factors go into figuring out how much alimony a spouse should receive – including income, contributions to the family, and physical health. It’s important to work closely with an attorney when you are negotiating spousal support in your divorce. At Berenji & Associates, our attorneys are prepared to help you contest or fight for alimony. We’ll do whatever it takes to get you the outcome you want. Call us today to schedule a consultation and learn more.


Child Custody

Divorces involving children can be particularly challenging. As parents, you and your spouse both have the right to share legal and physical custody of your child. However, it can be difficult to agree about who gets custody of the kids, and when. Emotions can run high when you and your spouse can’t agree on a custody arrangement. The negative aspects of your dispute can boil over and affect your children. It’s important to put your own personal feelings aside and do what’s truly best for the kids.

At Berenji & Associates, our attorneys know that it can be painful to negotiate the custody of your children. We also know that you want to whatever is in your child’s best interest. We’ll help you craft a child custody agreement that safeguards your parental rights, gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with your children, and protects their interests. Contact our office today to learn more about how we can help you resolve child custody issues in your divorce.


Child Support

You and your spouse aren’t the only ones affected by your divorce. If you have young children, their lives will be changed, as well. You’ll have to make sure that your children’s financial needs are addressed. In fact, a judge will not finalize your divorce until a valid child support order exists. Child support helps to ensure that a child is able to maintain the standard of living they grew to enjoy while you were married.

In California, both parents share an equal obligation to care for their children. However, child support is typically paid by the parent who (a) earns more money and/or (b) spends less time with the kids. There’s a specific formula that’s used to determine how much in child support a parent must pay. Several factors go into this equation, including income, assets, and timeshare custody. Support obligations can only be calculated properly when accurate information is used. It can be important to work with an attorney who has extensive experience handling these complex financial matters.

Our Los Angeles family law attorneys will help you fight for or contest child support in your divorce. If support has already been set, we can help you request a modification if your financial situation has changed. Child support is paid to ensure that your children are cared for. We’re here to help you do what’s best for you and your family. Call for help with your child support case today.

Call Berenji & Associates Today

Getting a divorce can be a scary and overwhelming time in your life. Our Los Angeles divorce attorneys are here to make it as painless as possible. We will identify what you want to get out of your divorce and fight for the best outcome for you and your family. If your children will be affected by the divorce, we will try to shield them from the negative aspects of the process.

It is important to hire an attorney you trust.  Call us today to schedule an initial consultation with our compassionate legal team. The first meeting is free and requires no commitment on your part, so call us today to learn more.


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Divorce Process Infographic

We created this infographic of the divorce process for you convenience. This was created with information we adapted from the Los Angeles Superior Court Planning and Research Unit.

Los Angeles Divorce Overview