FAMILY LAW FIRM & DIVORCE ATTORNEY IN ORANGE, CA
The Law Office of Kevin L Qualls
A divorce can be one of the most disturbing events of your life, emotionally and financially. Almost everything in your life changes as you and your family restructure and adapt to your new normal. It is one of the greatest transitions you will ever have to face.
Though divorce is relatively common, it is normal to feel as if yours is unique. At Kevin L Qualls Family Law, many of our clients come to us feeling as if their divorce is going to be the most difficult one we’ve ever seen or that it’s going to take a long time. In most cases, neither of these things is true.
Even though we’ve seen thousands of divorce cases, we approach every family with the same care and compassion as if it were our first. We know that many of our clients are experiencing divorce for the first time, and we make sure to walk by their side through the process. It is our job to reassure you that you are not alone in this.
Divorce proceedings cover myriad family issues. Our clients often feel more at ease after they understand the key topics discussed during the divorce process.
One of the most significant parts of the divorce process is dividing property between spouses. All assets need to be added up and divided evenly between them.
This is not simply shared property such as real estate and vehicles, though those things are considered. Instead, the property division looks at all checking and savings accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, and pension plans. Many assets need to be assessed and divided.
This stage is often emotional. Some couples struggle to agree on who should get what, while others face the emotional weight of saying goodbye to their family home and property. What’s more, sometimes spouses hide assets in an attempt to keep more for themselves, bringing contention and distrust into the process.
Child Custody and Visitation
Perhaps the most emotional part of any divorce is determining child custody and visitation rights. Most couples deeply love their children and try to make the process easier on them. However, emotional bonds with children coupled with contempt for the other parent breeds a problematic situation. Even if you and your spouse are parting on good terms, it can be challenging to accept that you will have less access to your children after the divorce.
It is important to note that the court’s priority will always be the child or children’s well-being. Very few other factors come into play during their custody and visitation decisions.
Common custody agreements include:
- Shared child custody. In this iteration of custody, both parents take care of the child or children an equal amount of time. Both parents also have equal input in the decisions surrounding the child’s life. This can be organized in many different ways, depending on what works for your family.
- Primary child custody. For this option, one parent acts as the primary decision-maker and caregiver for the children, but the second parent may weigh in as the primary parent sees fit. In addition, the second parent may spend some minimal time with the child, such as every other weekend or alternating holidays.
- Visitation. This usually involves less physical time with the children and always involves less decision-making than primary custody agreements.
- Sole custody. This option means that one parent has all decision-making power and physical custody over the children. They do not see or spend time with the other parent at all.
Any of the above arrangements may be accompanied by child support payments. This often depends on the income of each parent. Both parents need to contribute equally, whether in time spent rearing the children, income, or both.
There is no saying how child custody and child support will play out in your divorce case. Each situation is different, and it is impossible to predict what might happen. The job of your city of Orange divorce lawyer is to show the court that your presence is beneficial to your children’s well-being.
Another critical aspect of divorce is determining spousal support. While some families have two working parents, others involve one parent earning an income while the other stays home. In these situations, divorce can be catastrophic. The stay-at-home parent likely sacrificed a significant amount of professional advancement to stay at home.
The court considers this when determining spousal support. Just because one parent took on the burden of the household doesn’t mean they should be financially vulnerable following the divorce. Instead, spousal support helps make sure both parties can build a new life after the divorce is finalized.
Spousal support agreements are not just for stay-at-home parents or spouses. For example, in some situations, both spouses worked outside the home, but one earned a substantially higher income than the other one. In these situations, the higher-earning partner may be required to pay spousal support to even out the discrepancy in funds.
Dividing a Business
One of the most complicated parts of divorce from a legal standpoint is dividing shared business assets. Many times, couples go into business and create a successful company together. If the marriage ends, few couples want to shut down or sell the business. This means that there is a significant amount of assessment and negotiation that goes into this process.
Despite this, our attorneys can help you do this with ease.
Litigation vs. Uncontested Divorce
Many people assume that divorces are all similar to those on TV. However, this is not the truth. While some cases do end up in court, others are settled through other methods.
An uncontested divorce occurs when one spouse files for divorce and the other agrees to the divorce terms that the first one set forth. In these situations, litigation and argument are not necessary.
In other situations, the second spouse does not agree to the terms set forth by the divorce filing, and the case needs to be solved through litigation. Though this option takes more time, it is essential if you and your spouse disagree.
Do I Need an Orange County Lawyer for My Divorce?
Many people think they can go through a divorce without an attorney, especially if it is uncontested. Though it is not illegal to do so, it is not advisable to try and navigate a divorce without legal representation. Few people without attorneys receive what they want in their divorce settlements, and most end up with far less than they deserve.
If you have children and are seeking custody, an attorney is critical. Not only do experienced divorce attorneys understand how to best navigate the argument in your favor, but we also show the judge that you are passionate about receiving custody of your children. Unfortunately, many judges interpret lack of attorney as indifference to one’s children, which does not bode well for your chances at receiving custody or avoiding making child support payments.
How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?
There is no way to know how long the divorce process will take from start to finish. Each divorce is different, and there are lots of contributing factors to the speed of the process.
In the state of California, divorces must take at least six months. This is to say that the courts cannot and will not legally dissolve a marriage within six months. You may finish all of the negotiations, file the paperwork, and even receive judge approval in that timeframe. However, legally you are not divorced until six months and one day after the papers were filed.
Many divorces do take longer than six months. Child support, child custody, spousal support, and division of assets all play into the length of the process. Generally speaking, a couple with similar incomes, no children, no property, and an uncontested divorce can likely assume their divorce will last the minimum required time. However, a family with children, several properties, a business, and spousal support requests can expect to have the process last longer. Again, this is a general assumption because every situation is different.
Divorce With Prenuptial Agreements
If you have a prenuptial agreement, your divorce may be slightly more straightforward. However, prenuptial agreements do not mean that you will not have assets to divide. Marital property, legally shared assets, and money earned during the marriage are all eligible for division during a prenuptial divorce. In addition, spousal support is still possible, and there are still many things to discuss.
It is important to understand that prenuptial agreements spell out a particular set of assets that cannot be divided during divorce. However, this does not mean that assets obtained during the marriage are off the table during the divorce proceedings. Courts are cautious when approving prenuptial agreements to ensure that both parties are protected in the case of divorce.
Behaving During a Divorce
If you are getting a divorce, you must understand how your words and actions can be used during this time. Your spouse’s attorney will be looking for chances to slander you, so it is essential to be on your best behavior. Though this may seem restrictive, remember that it is only temporary. Here are a few tips on how to behave during a divorce:
- Do not complain about or badmouth your ex-spouse on social media, in public spaces, or to your children. These are all in bad taste, and your ex-spouse’s attorney can use comments to call your character into question. This can jeopardize your settlement, your right to child custody, and spousal support.
- Do not go on lavish vacations or buy expensive items. It is normal to want to do a little bit of retail therapy after a difficult breakup, but your ex-spouse’s attorney can use your purchases as proof that you have more assets than you have disclosed.
- Deactivate social media, or limit your use. Your ex-spouse’s attorney mustn’t have access to pictures of you partying, going on dates, or letting loose while divorce proceedings are still occurring. They will likely use them to suggest that you are an unfit parent for your children. Even if this is not true in the slightest, you can never be too careful. The best course of action is to refrain from using social media if you can or ask friends not to tag you in pictures, videos, and posts.
- See a therapist. One of the best things you can do for your children and yourself is to go to therapy during divorce proceedings. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act laws prevent your therapist from disclosing any information to your spouse’s Orange County divorce lawyer, and you can still talk through all your emotions and issues. What’s more, therapy often has lasting benefits for individuals and can be used in court to show that you are emotionally mature and responsible.
- Focus on your children. If you have children, be sure to offer them extra care, understanding, and time. Even if your divorce is peaceful or for the best, children will always have emotions surrounding the experience. They may act out or act differently, and it is important to allow them to express themselves during this time. Therapy is an excellent option for kids and teens as well if you are open to the idea.
Contact Kevin L Qualls Family Law Firm
If you need advice regarding a divorce, talk to us. We understand that every divorce is different. We know that your situation is unique. As your law firm, we will provide the personalized service you want and the representation you need to reach your goals as quickly as possible.
Kevin L Qualls Family Law is a firm that has concentrated on family law cases in Orange County, California, since 1990. We care about our clients, and we are focused on finding workable solutions to serious problems.
Our firm is known for being client-centric and highly responsive to our clients’ questions and concerns. We return phone calls, and we stay in communication with those we represent.
Filing For Divorce in Orange County? We Can Answer Your Questions.
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