I’m Getting a Divorce in OC California; Do I Need to Hire a Divorce Attorney?
I am getting a divorce in California need attorney?: Generally speaking, it is always advised that you consult a divorce attorney if you are getting a divorce. There is no substitute for quality legal advice from a legal professional.
However, the amount of assistance that you need from your lawyer can vary depending on the way you get a divorce.
Usually, lawyers are needed to help the divorcing parties through disagreements and points of contention when determining the main parts of a divorce: the division of property and debts, spousal or partner support determination, child custody determination, and child support determination. When you divorce in California, you have several options when it comes to making these decisions, and attorneys can help you in different ways.
A summary dissolution is the simplest way to get a divorce in California, and requires minimal assistance from an attorney. Alternative dispute resolution, like mediation and collaborative law, are other out-of-court options for creating a divorce agreement. Traditionally litigated divorces that are determined in the courtroom may allow for complete representation by a lawyer. You and your spouse also have the option to work out your own divorce agreements outside of court and then submit to have them approved by a judge. If your divorce is uncontested and your partner is not voicing his or her opinion, you may be granted a default judgment.
When you are choosing which option works best for your family situation, it is best to discuss these options with an attorney either in your initial consultation, or in a single meeting so that you can get helpful information that applies specifically to your case.
Summary Dissolution in California
However, not everyone is eligible for a summary dissolution. For a married couple to qualify, the spouses must meet the following requirements.
• You have been married for less than five years,
• You do not share children, either born or adopted before or during the marriage, and are not currently expecting a child,
• Neither party owns any part of land nor buildings,
• Neither party rents any land nor buildings, with the exception of your current home,
• You do not owe more than $6,000 in debts that have been acquired since the date of marriage, excluding car loans,
• You have less than $40,000 worth of property that has been acquired since the date of marriage, excluding vehicles,
• Neither party has more than $40,000 in separate property, excluding vehicles,
• Both spouses agree to forego spousal support forever,
• Both spouses have signed a property and debt division agreement that includes vehicles,
• You must meet the California residency requirements for divorce, which state that one spouse must have lived in California for at least the last six months, and one spouse must have lived in the county where the divorce is filed for at least the last three months.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolutions are a way to resolve a legal issue outside of the courtroom. There are two main ways to do this with regard to a divorce: divorce mediation and collaborative divorces
While divorce mediation does not absolutely require the assistance of an attorney, it is advised that you consult one prior to signing your final mediation agreement. During mediation meetings, neither party can have an attorney present.
It is possible that the divorce mediator you choose to hire will also be a divorce attorney or a retired attorney, but in the role of divorce mediator, this person cannot provide you with legal advice. If you do have legal questions during the process of mediation, you may consult with an attorney outside of mediation.
Collaborative Law/Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce does require that each party hire their own attorney. In a collaborative divorce, you will meet with your attorney, who can help you prepare for the negotiation. The two parties and their divorce lawyers will meet and attempt to work out the terms of the divorce together.
Usually in a collaborative divorce, both parties and their lawyers agree beforehand that they will not go to court, and in the case that it is necessary to go to trial, the attorneys will withdraw from your divorce case, and you and your partner will hire new lawyers.
Divorce Litigation/Divorcing in an OC Family Courtroom
Whether you have tried an alternative dispute resolution and failed, or your divorce begins in the courtroom, it is up to you whether you would like to hire an attorney or not. However, consider that the potential consequences of facing your spouse in court without an attorney and not getting the outcome you want in a divorce - it will completely change your life, your finances, and potentially, your children’s lives.
The process of filing for divorce, responding to paperwork, and appearing in court prepared to speak on your own behalf can add stress to the already stressful situation of going through a divorce. If you have no legal background, consider speaking to an attorney prior to making the decision to move forward without one.
An attorney can help you fight for what you want when it comes to dividing property and debts and ensures that your divorce agreement is fair. Your divorce lawyer can also help with spousal support, whether you will be receiving, paying, or neither. When it comes to your children, an attorney is there to protect their best interests. Especially if your spouse is represented by an attorney, it is in your child's best interest for you to hire one as well.