Based in San Luis Obispo, Wendt & Abel, a Professional Law Corporation, represents clients throughout the Central Coast of California in family law matters, including divorce and all of its accompanying issues, such as child and spousal support, custody and visitation, and property division. Please consult the following frequently asked questions for some basic information about the divorce process, and please contact our offices if you have a specific concern.
How long does the divorce process take?
At a minimum, from the date a petition for divorce is filed and served to the other spouse, the divorce process takes six months in California. In some cases, the parties may agree to all the terms of the divorce before the six month waiting period is over. If so, a divorce judgment may be finalized before the six month period has expired; however, the divorce will not be official until the six months has run.
In other cases, the divorcing spouses cannot agree on all custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and property division issues within the six month time period. Thus, the divorce will take longer than the six month time frame because the parties have a right to litigate the terms of their divorce and resolve the issues before a judicial officer. A very complex or contentious divorce can take years to resolve.
How much will a divorce cost?
Unfortunately, estimating exact future costs is very difficult, as most attorneys charge an hourly rate for their services, which varies based on their expertise and experience. For example, the majority of certified family law specialists charge a higher hourly rate than regular general practitioners.
Generally, however, if the parties disagree on every issue and there are many issues to resolve, a complex and contentious divorce case can cost an extremely high amount of money. However, if the parties are able to agree to minor issues, and leave the more complicated matters for litigation, they may be able to save on their attorneys’ fees and costs. Also factoring into the cost of a divorce, a spouse who earns more money may be ordered by the court to pay for a portion of the other party’s attorneys’ fees and costs.
How is child and spousal support determined?
Child support in California, as well as temporary spousal support, is determined by a statewide formula. The child support formula considers among other guidelines the custodial time share between the parents of any minor children, the gross pre-tax earnings of each parent, and certain permitted deductions and hardship allowances.
Permanent spousal support is not determined by a guideline formula, but rather by factors that are set forth by law, which courts are required to apply to the facts at hand. The factors for determining permanent spousal support include the age and health of the parties, the length of the marriage, the marital standard of living, and many others. While the award is referred to as permanent, spousal support is generally modifiable and may be changed when either party’s financial circumstances change.
For a parent receiving child support, courts are increasingly imposing an expectation that the parent seek employment outside the home consistent with the best interests of minor children. In the case of spousal support, the receiving party is often expected to become self-supporting within a reasonable time.
Should I rely on information from the internet?
While the internet is a valuable tool and a good source of general information, you should not rely on the internet for legal advice. For example, many divorce and family law sites are not specific to California law, and some may simply contain inaccurate information. Rather, use the internet as a starting point, and then contact a family law attorney to discuss your specific concern.