Fountain Valley Divorce Guide

By Andrew Tran, Esq.


Everything you need to know about divorce in Fountain Valley, CA

When going through a divorce, what happens to the wealth that married couples accumulate? How do you know what you get and what you don’t get and what must you give up, if anything? Through such tumultuous and confusing times, we can shed some light.

Property Division

The Basics

Before you know what you are entitled to and how property is divided, you need to have an understanding of the basics of community property and separate property as California is a community property state. Put simply, any property or debts acquired from the date of marriage to the date of separation is presumptively community property, and any property acquired prior to the date of marriage, after the date of separation, or by gift, inheritance, devise, bequest or descent. At the time of divorce (dissolution of marriage), any property or value that is community property will be divided equally between the parties. Any property or debt that is separate property will belong to that person who originally owned it or was given it.

Family Residence

As a primarily suburban neighborhood, the disposition of the Family Residence during a divorce will be discussed. Per the principles of community property law, a residence that was purchased during the marriage is presumptively community property while a residence that was purchased before the marriage or after the date of separation is presumptively separate property. We will now discuss some common questions that arise with regards to the Family Residence in a divorce.

Does title matter?

Does the title on an asset change the “characteristic” of the asset from separate property to community property or community property to separate property? Answer: It depends.

Scenario 1: House was purchased during the marriage, but Husband places the title in his name alone. Does this mean that the property is Husband’s separate property? How will the court analyze the home?

Answer: Community property pending proof of separate property payments towards the down payment, mortgage, and repairs/improvements. A step-by-step analysis can be found below:

First, when was the house acquired? During the marriage. Therefore, it is presumptively community property.

Second, did Husband/Wife make any payments towards the down payment, mortgage, or repairs/improvements using his/her separate property funds (before marriage, after date of separation, gift, inheritance, devise, bequest or descent)? If so, proof must be provided. If successfully proven, the house would have a community property interest portion and a separate property interest portion (part community property and part separate property). Tracking the source of the funds that were made towards the home is known as tracing and significantly impacts the outcome as to how this house value will be divided.

If there were no payments from a separate property source or if Husband is unable to prove that any separate funds were applied towards the home, the house is completely community property. If there is any equity in the home, the equity shall be divided equally between the parties.

In Scenario 1, title does not matter as it comes down to tracing.

Scenario 2: House was purchased during the marriage in joint form. Husband claims that he has a quitclaim deed and other documentary evidence showing that Wife agreed to transfer the house into Husband’s name alone. What does this mean?

Answer: Community property pending proof of transmutation from community property to Husband’s separate property.

First, when was the house acquired? During the marriage. Therefore, it is presumptively community property.

Second, does Husband have proof of transmutation? Transmutation is the action of changing the characteristic of a property. This could be from community property to one spouse’s separate property or separate property to community property. However, there is a presumption of undue influence that must be overcome when it comes to transmutation. The one who is attempting to prove that a transmutation occurred has the burden of proving that there was no undue influence.

Assuming that Husband has sufficient evidence to show that Wife intended to transfer title to Husband as his sole and separate property (through the quit claim deed and any other documentary evidence) and overcome the undue influence presumption (Wife did not sign the quit claim deed due to undue influence as she signed it knowingly and voluntarily), Husband has shown that a transmutation occurred whereby Wife desired to change the characteristic of the house from a community property asset to a separate property asset. As this can be a complex area of the law, please contact one of our attorneys at Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, LLP today if this situation applies to you.

What happens if someone put money from before marriage into the purchase of the Family Residence?

Assuming the fact that a person can prove such actions took place through tracing, that person would be entitled to a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement for that separate property contribution towards the purchase of the family residence.

What happens if someone contributed separate property funds towards the mortgage, repairs, or improvements for the family residence?

Assuming that the home was purchased during the marriage (and is presumptively community property), the contributing party could be entitled to an “enhanced” interest in the property (% interest in addition to the 1/2 community property interest in the equity). Once again, proof is always necessary through tracing.

What happens if community funds (money acquired during the parties’ marriage) were contributed towards the mortgage one of the parties’ separate property residence?

Assuming that the home can be proven that it was purchased prior to the marriage (presumptively separate property) and community funds were applied towards the principal (not interest) of the mortgage, the community would gain a community interest portion in the separate property residence. In order to determine what portion the community should receive as a result of the principal, not interest, of the mortgage payments, being made with community funds, a formula known as the Moore Marsden formula will need to applied. Moore Marsden is the combination of two very important cases, Marriage of Moore and Marriage of Marsden. These two cases have laid out the means by which to calculate the community property portion entitlement of a separate property asset.

What happens if someone wants to stay in the house after the divorce?

In many cases, one party may desire to stay and reside in the family residence after a divorce (also known as the in-spouse). While this may be a desire for many, achieving this result may be substantially more difficult due to financial implications. A couple of steps must be taken before determining whether a person can be eligible to stay in the family residence:

Step 1: Is there equity in the residence? If the value of the house exceeds the remaining balance on the mortgage, then there is equity. The difference is the amount of the equity.

Step 2: “Buying out” the other spouse. In order to remain in the residence after divorce, the “in spouse” must “buy out” the “out-spouse.” This means that the “in-spouse” must pay 1/2 of the equity to the “out-spouse” in order to “buy him/her out.”

For example, a house is worth $700,000, and there still remains $500,000 on the mortgage at the date of separation. This means that there is $200,000 of equity in the house. Was the house purchased during the marriage and no separate property (gift, inheritance, bequest) was applied towards the purchase, mortgage, improvements, or repairs? If yes and no, respectively, then the entire amount of the equity is community and belongs to the parties equally ($100,000 to each). If one spouse wants to stay in the house after divorce, then the “in-spouse” would have to pay $100,000 to the “out-spouse.” Only then would the “in-spouse” be able to remain in the spouse. However, keep in mind, this also means that the “in-spouse” would have to qualify in order to obtain a refinance on the house to remove the “out-spouse” from the title to the home and take on the loan by himself/herself.

Simply put,

  1. Is there equity? How much?
  2. When was the home purchased? Were there payments made towards the down payment, mortgage, repairs, and improvements? If so, what was the source the funds?
  3. Does the “in-spouse” have the financial means and qualifications to buy out the “out-spouse” and obtain a refinance?

Regardless of whether the “out-spouse” wants to sell the home or not, as long as the “in-spouse” has the financial means to “buy-out” the “out-spouse,” then the court would allow the “in-spouse” the option of staying in the home.


While typically not an issue that parties argue over, vehicles adheres to the same principles above for purposes of property division. If the vehicles were purchased during the marriage, they are presumptively community property, and the community would be entitled to half of the equity (if any) in the vehicles. Any vehicle that was acquired before the marriage would be presumptively separate property. The separate property vehicle would retain its character unless a transmutation occurred. See above regarding transmutation. If no transmutation occurred, then the vehicle will belong to the party who owned it originally before the date of marriage or after the date of separation.

What happens if my car has a loan associated with it?

The spouse who wants to keep the car with the loan must assume the loan and remove the other spouse (if the vehicle was jointly titled). Assuming the loan also means that the spouse who wants to keep the car must qualify on his/her own for the loan. Otherwise, the car will be returned to the dealer as a repossession.

Generally, cars will be valued per Kelley Blue Book, and the parties will each take their own car (assuming there are enough cars for the parties) with an offset depending on the value of each vehicle. What does this mean? An example will better illustrate this:

Example: Wife drives a car valued at $30,000 and Husband drives a car valued at $20,000. Both vehicles were purchased during the marriage. If the parties are agreeable to each taking their respective cars they have been driving, then Husband will get an offset of $5,000 from Wife (since there is a difference in value of $10,000 of community; this means $5,000 to Husband and $5,000 to Wife). Since Wife would gain the benefit of a higher valued car, Husband will need to be “equalized”. Offsetting is the way to make the parties walk away on a “fair and equal” basis.

Bank Accounts

Per the community property principles above, funds that were acquired during the marriage are presumptively community property while funds that were acquired before the date of marriage or after the date of separation and acquired by gift, inheritance, devise, bequest, or descent are presumptively separate property. At the finality of the divorce, the parties will receive their respective portions of funds as of the amounts at the date of separation.

Does it matter that our accounts have always been kept as separate?

Unfortunately, no, this does not matter. Regardless of whether the accounts are kept separately or jointly, what matters is when the funds were acquired and are traceable. The funds will be divided based upon the characteristic of the funds as of the value at the date of separation.

Hiding Assets

With a requirement for full disclosures by the parties to each other as to financials, the hiding of assets is always a potential problem that could arise in any case. There are a number of legal steps that could be taken to “unearth” “hidden” assets which will be discussed below:


Discovery is a legal method by which attorneys obtain information from the other party for a legal proceeding. While an all-encompassing legal term, a party could use such discovery tools such as subpoenas and interrogatories in order to discover “hidden” assets.


Subpoenas are requests for documentation/information directly from the institution itself such as banks, credit card companies, schools, doctor’s offices, etc. Subpoenas typically are accompanied by a list of documents that are being requested for a particular time frame. However, keep in mind that before an institution is required to comply with a subpoena, notice must be provided to the party “consumer” whose documents are being requested, otherwise known as a Notice to Consumer (SUBP-025). This allows the “consumer” (party) 10 days to object to his/her documents being produced by the institution if the subpoena was served by mail and 5 days to object if the subpoena was personally served.


Debts operate in similar ways as assets. Debts also adhere to the principles of community property law. If a debt was acquired during the marriage, then it is presumptively community property. This would mean that the parties are equally responsible for the debt. If debt was acquired before the date of marriage or date of separation, then the debt would be the sole responsibility of the party that acquired it.

What happens if I put my separate property funds towards paying off our joint credit card?

In these kinds of cases, unless there is a writing stating that you would be entitled to a reimbursement, the law assumes that that was a “gift” to the community, and you would not be entitled to a reimbursement.

What happens if my credit card was started before marriage, had a balance before marriage, and I used it during the marriage?

The balance amount before the date of marriage would belong to you as your separate property debt, and you would be solely responsible for it. As for the portion that was incurred during the marriage up to your date of separation, you and your spouse would be equally responsible for that. If there was any portion that you incurred after the date of separation, that would also be your separate property debt, and you would be solely responsible for it.

If my spouse made extravagant charges during the marriage without my permission, can I get a reimbursement for that?

Generally, no, you would not get a reimbursement for that unless you can prove that the charges were for extra-marital purposes and the marital community did not benefit. One common example would be for cheating such as going on vacations with that individual (not your spouse) or purchases for that individual (not your spouse). While you would think gambling would be considered, it is not.

Keep in mind that even though you may have not given permission for your spouse to make those charges, you lose the right to assert a right of reimbursement because you allowed it to occur for so long.

Retirement Accounts

Just as with the assets and debts discussed above, the characteristic of retirement accounts and division between the parties apply the principles of community property law with a minor difference in the final division of retirements accounts. If a retirement account was acquired during the marriage, then the account is presumptively community property. If a retirement account was acquired before the date of marriage, after the date of separation, or received as a gift, inheritance, bequest, devise, or descent, then account would be presumptively separate property.

However, if the account was acquired before the marriage (presumptively separate property) and existed through the marriage, then the increase in value from the date of marriage to the date of separation would be considered as community. The community would benefit from that increase. The difference would be split equally between the parties.

If the account was acquired during the marriage and separate property funds were put towards the retirement account during the marriage, then there would be a separate property interest created in the retirement account.

Division of the Retirement Through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or Domestic Relations Order

Once the community property and separate property interests are ascertained and division of those portions are ordered/agreed upon, then the parties must retain the services of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or Domestic Relations Order (DRO) attorney. Family law attorneys typically do not handle the division of retirement accounts. The QDRO or DRO attorney will draft up the paperwork in a way such that the entity who runs the retirement account is satisfied with the language for division to each party. This is the reason why a specialist is required to draft the QDRO to divide the retirement accounts as it is a complex area of the law as different entities require different sets of language. The QDRO or DRO will be sent to the court for the judge’s signature. Once the judge approves and signs off on the QDRO or DRO, then the QDRO or DRO can be forwarded to the entity for division. Keep in mind that there could be tax implications by doing a direct division distribution. It may be advisable to have a roll-over IRA in order to not suffer potential tax consequences.

Difference between QDRO AND DRO

A QDRO is the order by which most retirement account division/distributions occur. These can be such investment vehicles such as 401k’s, Roth IRAs, Contributory IRAs, etc.

A DRO is the order by which military retirements are divided/distributed. These can be such investment vehicles such as Thrift Savings Plans (TSP) or any other type of military retirement.

Do I have to pay an additional fee for a QDRO or DRO attorney to draft the QDRO or DRO in order to divide my retirement?

In most cases, yes, a QDRO or DRO attorney does charge for the cost of preparing either. There are handful of attorneys in Orange County that handle these types of situations. The fee can cost up to $500 per QDRO or DRO that needs to be divided. As each attorney costs differently, inquiring as to cost would be the best course of action.

Small Businesses

Being that Fountain Valley has been primarily known as a suburban city, the city is not unfamiliar with local restaurant and stores that have served the city of Fountain Valley for years. For families that go through a divorce and own such local businesses, what happens to the business and how you determine income for support? Unfortunately, the answer is that it all depends.

What To Do With the Business

Step 1: Acquisition of the Business

When did the business start or when was it acquired?

If it started or was acquired during the marriage, then the business is presumptively community property. If the business was acquired before the date of marriage or after the date of separation, then the business is presumptively separate property.

Step 2a: Commitment of Separate Funds or Separate Labor Efforts Towards the Community Property Business

Did either party commit any separate funds or separate labor efforts before the marriage or after the date of separation which led to an increase in value of the business?

Separate Funds: If you put any separate property funds towards the business, then you would be entitled to a portion of the business pursuant to your commitment of separate property funds and a reimbursement dollar-for-dollar for your commitment of separate property funds towards the business.

Separate Labor Efforts: If you put any separate labor efforts towards the community business after the date of separation which led to a further appreciation in value of the community business, then Reverse Van Camp would apply whereby a party commits separate labor towards a community property business which led to an appreciation in value. Using Reverse Van Camp, there would be calculation done to determine how much should be apportioned to separate property. In these kinds of complex cases, the services of a Certified Public Accountant would be used to ascertain the community property apportionment v. the separate property apportionment. This would apply a concept known as Reverse Van Camp whereby a party’s separate labor efforts after the date of separation towards the community business should lead to more of an apportionment for the separate property interest.

Step 2a: Commitment of Community Funds or Labor Efforts Towards the Separate Property Business

Did the community commit community funds and/or labor to enhance the value of the separate property?

Answer: If funds acquired during the marriage or labor during the marriage (community labor) resulted in an enhancement in value of the business, then two types of accounting could apply, Van Camp and Pereira. The application of either one depends on what is believed to the reasoning as to why the business value increased.

Van Camp

If the nature of the economy or the character (type) of the business caused the appreciation in value:

Under Van Camp, the court will value the “labor” at a market rate and subtract community expenses from that amount. The results from this calculation are considered community property. The community is awarded what that spouse might have been paid as an employee for similar work.

What are some types of businesses that are typically subject to Van Camp accounting?

Typically businesses that are larger and generally more capital intensive.


If management skills were the main cause for growth and production:

Under Pereira, the court will add the original principal amount of the business which is separate property to a reasonable rate of return expected from the nature of that business. This is considered as separate property. The remaining amount of the business is considered part of the community. Pereira is applied when the appreciation of the business is due to the skills, efforts, or talents of the spouse who is working in the business. The separate property business is awarded the initial investment plus a reasonable rate, as if the capital had been invested.

What are some types of businesses that are typically subject to Pereira accounting?

Single person professions or very small businesses such as sole proprietorships, or business where the efforts of the owner-spouse comprised of more than 50% of the labor to grow the company’s value.

The analyses under Van Camp and Pereira are rather complex and depend on the facts of your case. Consulting with an attorney is advisable. Our experienced attorneys at Wilkinson & Finkbeiner are available today to provide you with a free consultation.

Custody and Visitation

Child Custody is split into two different categories: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is the ability to make decisions about a child’s welfare, health, safety, and education.

What is joint legal custody and what does that mean?

Joint Legal Custody is where both parents have equal rights in making decisions as to child’s welfare, health, safety, and education. One parent may not make such decisions on his/her own without obtaining the permission of the other parent first. This is the typical type of legal custody in most cases.

What is sole legal custody and what does that mean?

Sole Legal Custody means that one parent alone will have the ability to make decisions about a child’s welfare, health, safety, and education. The parent having sole legal custody does not need the permission of the other parent to make such choices. However, after the decision is made and action taken, the sole legal parent must notify the other parent of the decision and action.

How can I get sole legal custody?

In custody disputes where one parent has shown a lack of decision-making ability which has led to the detriment of the child, shown pattern of habitual drugs or alcohol use, or shown a pattern of abuse, the court can order sole legal custody. While not a common order, the court will order it in extreme circumstances where it is necessary to protect the child’s best interests as it relates to the issues of welfare, health, safety, and education.

School District Choice

A common concern for most parents who live apart is to determine which school district would be the “best” for their child. The parent who has legal custody rights is the one who can determine where the child will attend school. As the parent who has sole legal custody, this parent can choose which school the child will attend and need only notify the other parent are the choice has been made. The parent with sole legal custody can make the decision as to schooling without needing the permission from the other parent. As for parents who have joint legal custody, a parent must consult with the other before making a decision as to the child’s school. If there becomes a dispute as to the choice of school, pursuing legal intervention may be the best course of action as one parent cannot unilaterally make a decision about education without obtaining permission from the other.

Extracurricular Activities

Another common concern between parents is extracurricular activities for the child. Once again, the ability to make these kinds of decisions depends on what type of legal custody a parent has. If it is sole legal custody, then that parent can enroll the child in whatever extracurricular activities he/she wishes. On the other hand, if both parents have joint legal custody, then the other parent must be consulted before enrolling a child in extracurricular activities.

Medical/Dental Decisions

As for decisions for medical and dental for a child, the same principles above apply. If both parents have joint legal custody, permission is required from the other before a medical or dental decision is made. If one parent has sole legal custody, a unilateral decision can be made but notification to the other parent is still required after the fact.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is the actual time spent with a child.

What are the main types of physical custody?

Joint Physical Custody: Joint physical custody is classified as anywhere between 50% physical custody to as low as 30% physical custody.

Sole Physical Custody: Sole physical custody is classified as anywhere between 29% to 1% physical custody.

How do I know what percentage of custody I have?

The percentage of time with a child impacts whether a parent has joint physical custody or sole physical custody. In any given year, there are 8760 possible visitation hours. Taking the number of hours you have visitation with a child divided by 8760 will yield the percentage of custody you have with a child.

What does primary custodial parent mean?

Primary Custodial Parent: The parent who has 50.01% or more physical custody over a child and with whom the child primarily resides. All parents who have sole physical custody are primary custodial parents but not all parents who have joint physical custody are primary custodial parents.

What happens if I have an informal arrangement with the other parent?

In many cases, parents have informal arrangements for physical custody and visitation because they have been able to operate amicably for so long. While this is something that the courts would prefer parents to do, this creates problems for enforcement as informal arrangements have not been made into a formal court order. If either party deviates from the informal arrangement, the other parent is at a loss as to how to ensure that the other party complies with the arrangement. Police officers do not enforce informal arrangements. The only solution is to memorialize the physical custody and visitation arrangement into a formal court order. That way, if a parent refuses to abide by the court ordered plan, then the other parent can seek a remedy through the legal system or through law enforcement. It is always preferable to have court orders as opposed to have an informal arrangement.

Child Support

Whether you are the payor parent or the payee parent, having an understanding as to child support is always important. Simply put, child support is dependent upon two things: 1) percentage of physical care of the child and 2) the present incomes of the parties.

What is guideline child support?

Guideline child support is an amount of child support ordered by a court based on a state-wide guideline analysis.

How do you calculate guideline child support?

Attorneys and the court have access to a program known as DISSOMASTER which assists in calculating guideline child support. The user inputs the parents’ PRESENT incomes with various deductions and the percentage of custodial time share for either parent. The program generates a number known to be the guideline child support number for California. In most cases, the court will adopt the resulting number. However, keep in mind that guideline child support is very dependent upon the numbers that are inputted. Having inaccurate and incorrect numbers could severely affect the amount of guideline child support.

Are medical costs beyond those covered by medical insurance covered under guideline child support?

No. Out of pocket medical costs are classified as mandatory child support add-ons and are an amount in addition to the guideline amount of child support. These costs are usually split between the parents.

How about childcare costs?

Just like out of pocket medical costs, childcare costs are mandatory child support add-ons. These costs are split equally between the parents.

How about extracurricular activities costs?

Unlike childcare costs and out of pocket medical costs, these costs are not mandatory but are otherwise known as discretionary add-ons. The court has discretion as to how these costs will be allocated or whether they are to be ordered at all.

The other parent has not paid me back for 1/2 of childcare costs and out of pocket medical costs. What can I do to get 1/2 of that money back?

1st Step: Did you provide proof of payment to the other parent and given him/her at least 30 days to reimburse you for 1/2 of those costs?

This is an important step as the other parent must be provided with notice of at least 30 days that a mandatory child support add-on has been paid with proof of payment. Once the 30 days lapses, then you can seek legal intervention through the court to force the other parent to pay you back. However, seeking legal intervention can be a costly process if you hire an attorney and will likely consume a significant amount of time. As such, it might be more worthwhile to wait until a substantial amount of money to be reimbursed has been accumulated or can be “tacked” on to another issue that is worth litigating. A cost-utility analysis should always be considered when pursuing any legal remedy especially when hiring an attorney to assist you. It might end up costing you more to litigate the issue as opposed to collecting the 1/2 that you are entitled to.

2nd Step:

If it is viable for you to litigate such an issue, then filing a Request for Order with the Court to seek reimbursement for 1/2 of the costs of what the other parent owes you would be your next step. A hearing would be held in which you would convince the court that the other party owes you a certain sum of money that constitutes 1/2 of the costs that you had paid in full for the child support add-ons.

What are the perks of having Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) involved as opposed to an attorney?

DCSS is a branch of the court that deals with payments of child support although it does handle spousal support (for enforcement purposes only) as long as there is child support involved as well. DCSS is free and beneficial in that it has a lot of means by which it can enforce child support without needing to seek a remedy in front of a judge such as intercepting tax refunds, levying bank accounts, garnishing wages, suspending the payor’s driver’s license, taking possession of passports, suspending professional licenses, and seeking criminal prosecution. However, the downside is that DCSS handles thousands of cases with limited government funding. As such, they are understaffed, overworked, and will not likely be very responsive to your case and your needs. Furthermore, when you open a DCSS case for child support, the family court can no longer be involved with child support as DCSS has taken over.

If you elect to not go through DCSS, there are benefits to retaining an attorney to assist you. Unlike DCSS, an attorney has the resources and time to cater more to your needs and concerns. Since DCSS is not involved, the attorney will be filing any paperwork related to child support in the family law court. A judge in the family court will make orders on the issue of child support. Attorneys can also file contempt actions against a payor parent who is refusing to pay child support. However, the “cons” are that attorneys do not have access to the same enforcement methods like DCSS has and attorney’s fees and costs could be expensive. Attorneys cannot automatically suspend driver’s licenses or take possession of passports while DCSS can do so . The attorney must go through the family court system to seek enforcement/contempt remedies.

Spousal Support

Spousal support has two categories: temporary spousal support and permanent spousal support.

Temporary Spousal Support

Temporary spousal support is spousal support that is ordered and effective only during your active divorce case. Temporary spousal support does not automatically become ordered upon the filing of a divorce. A party must request for temporary spousal support in order for a court to order temporary spousal support.

Does the court consider our marital income when ordering temporary spousal support?

Not necessarily, temporary spousal support takes into account the present incomes of the parties, not the incomes of the parties during the marriage.  However, the court can “impute” income to a party for various reasons.

How is temporary spousal support calculated?

Just like child support, temporary spousal support is a guideline-based number. For temporary guideline spousal support in Orange County, the DISSOMASTER number applies the Santa Clara guidelines to calculate the amount of temporary guideline spousal support to be ordered. In most cases, the court will adopt this number to be the temporary spousal support amount.

Permanent Spousal Support

Despite the word “permanent,” permanent spousal support doesn’t necessarily in fact mean that spousal support will be permanent. Permanent spousal support is the term for spousal support after a divorce case is finalized. These are ongoing payments after a case is over. In cases where the parties have a long-term marriage (10+ years), the default California law is that the court will have the power to adjudicate the issue of spousal support forever. This is not to say that spousal support will be forever. In cases where the parties have a short-term marriage (less than 10 years), the default California law is that permanent spousal support will only be ordered for 1/2 the length of the marriage.

How is permanent spousal support calculated?

The courts apply the Family Code Section 4320 factors that go through a broad range of considerations when determining permanent spousal support. Unlike temporary spousal support which uses DISSOMASTER, permanent spousal support numbers do not come from DISSOMASTER. Please see our page for the analysis of the 4320 factors.

If I am the payor spouse for permanent spousal support and my income cannot sustain the payments for permanent spousal support, can I request for a reduction in permanent spousal support or am I stuck with that amount?

Yes, you can request for a reduction in permanent spousal support payments. However, you must prove to the court what is known as a change of circumstances. This means that your current financial circumstances must have changed from the financial circumstances at the time the divorce was finalized.

Step 1: You must first establish what numbers were used to calculate the original permanent spousal support numbers.

Step 2: You must then disclose to the court the circumstances which occurred recently that have affected your income which has in turn affected your ability to pay your permanent spousal support.

Fountain Valley

Known as a classic commuter town, Fountain Valley is a suburban upper middle-class city with a large Asian American population. In fact, the median household income in Fountain Valley in 2015 was $82,367. As a suburban city, most residents commute to work in other urban cities. However, in more recent times, Fountain Valley has seen an increase in commercial jobs which has led to the growth in commercial centers including Southpark district. In 2016, the city had a population of approximately 56,529.


Prior to being a part of the United States, the area of Fountain Valley was inhabited by an indigenous group of people known as the Tongva people. Once European settlement occurred, the area was granted to a Spanish soldier named Jose Manuel Nieto by the Spanish empire. Control of the land was subsequently transferred to Mexico once it gained its independence from Spain. Mexico then transferred control of the land to the United States as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, a peace treaty signed in 1848 between the United States and Mexico which ended the Mexican-American War. The city was finally incorporated in 1957 and named Fountain Valley for the very high water table in the area and the many corresponding artesian wells in the area. Early settlers used the land for agriculture until 1960 when large housing tracts accelerated.

Fountain Valley is the first city to appoint a Japanese-American mayor named James Kanno.

After the Vietnam war in 1975, Fountain Valley saw a large influx of Vietnamese refugees settling in the area, especially from the 1970s to 1980s.


Fountain Valley is located southwest and northeast of the San Diego Freeway (405), which diagonally bisects the city, and is surrounded by Huntington Beach on the south and west, Westminster and Garden Grove on the north, Santa Ana on the northeast, and Costa Mesa on the southeast. To the east is the Santa Ana River.

Parks and Recreation

Fountain Valley features a large park known as Mile Square Regional Park which contains two lakes, a golf course, playing fields, picnic shelters, and a 20-acre urban-nature area planted with California native plants, recreation center, tennis courts, basketball courts, racquetball courts, a gymnasium, and the Kingston Boys and Girls Club. In the summer, Fountain Valley holds an annual Summerfest in June in Mile Square Regional Park which includes a car show, rides, music, and booths.

What once was known as an area based upon agriculture, Fountain Valley has become gradually replaced by new office developments.


Fountain Valley is home to the national headquarters for Hyundai Motor America, D-Link corporation, global headquarters of Kingston Technology, and the corporate headquarters of Surefire, LLC. Fountain Valley also has two fully accredited major medical centers: the Fountain Valley Hospital and the Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center.

Notable Celebrities

Some notable celebrities lived in Fountain Valley including Michelle Pfeiffer, Keri Russell, and Mary Astor.

Being one of the cities located within Orange County with a higher than average rate of divorce than the rest of California, Fountain Valley is also affected. Understanding the “in’s and out’s” of a divorce and what you could be legally entitled is significant especially when divorces affect the core values of family and finances. Contact one of our experienced family law attorneys today at Wilkinson & Finkbeiner for a free consultation.