Most Commonly Asked Questions About Divorce in Irvine

Most Commonly Asked Questions to Divorce Lawyers in Irvine

Questions that are commonly posed about Divorce in Orange County – and Answers!

Divorce attorneys in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna and other areas of Orange County often hear the same questions asked by clients aWnd potential clients about divorce, legal separation, and nullity cases.  We have provided below a long list of those questions along with the answers that would apply from our decades of experience in family law in Orange County.  If you have any other questions that are not asked and answered here, feel free to give us a call or send us an email!

Where are divorce cases filed in Orange County?

While there are two courthouse locations in Orange County that handle all divorce, paternity, legal separation and domestic violence cases, the vast majority of them are handled at the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange.  The other location in Santa Ana serves an annex location and not many cases are heard there in comparison to the main family courthouse near the Outlets at Orange.  All cases are filed in Orange at the Lamoreaux Justice Center.

Who can file a divorce in Orange County?  Who can file a legal separation here?

Anyone that has lived in the State of California for at least 6 months and in Orange County for at least 3 months can file for divorce in Orange County.  Any resident of Orange County, no matter how long they have lived within the county or State boundaries can file for legal separation, as there is no “residency requirement” to file for legal separation or nullity.  Additionally, a spouse may petition for divorce if the other party has lived in Orange County for the requisite period of time indicated above, so long as that person understands that they are subjecting themselves to the Court’s jurisdiction in California and to have the venue in Orange County.

What is the divorce rate in Orange County?

Orange County has a significantly high divorce rate statistically in comparison to other counties within California and to other states.  According to the most recent data, over 30 people file for divorce every day in Irvine and elsewhere in Orange County.  This figure excludes cases filed for paternity and domestic violence.

What do I do if I’m served with divorce papers?

If you are served with divorce or other family law pleadings, don’t panic.  These cases are common and the worst thing you can do is become upset and do something rash that will ultimately hurt you in the divorce case.  For example, some people find out and scream at their spouse, throw things, and otherwise fly off the handle after finding out a divorce case is pending.  This is the worst thing you can do, especially if you have children.  Do not give your spouse the opportunity to file a domestic violence restraining order on you, which will hurt your chances at getting positive custody orders as well as spousal support (alimony) orders.  After you get over the initial shock and calm down, start gathering financial documents and take pictures/video of everything in the house.  Then contact an attorney that specializes in divorce.

How can I request spousal support?

There are two types of spousal support, temporary and permanent.  You can request temporary spousal support as soon as a case is filed (if you are filing the dissolution of marriage petition, you can file a request for alimony concurrently).  The motion for spousal support is done through the filing of a Request for Order form.  For more information about alimony and spousal support, click here.

How do I pick the best divorce lawyer in Irvine or elsewhere in Orange County?

Selecting the best attorney for your divorce in Orange County comes down to a personal choice.  The best lawyer for your case is someone that fits your personality that is experienced, easy to communicate with and effective. The best divorce lawyers also keep your finances in mind and try to mitigate costs of the case as much as possible.  For a complete guide to selecting a divorce lawyer in Irvine, click here.

How does the family court judge analyze child custody issues involved in divorce cases?

The family court judge is required to comply with and analyze the sections of the Family Code that deal with child custody and visitation orders.  These sections begin at Family Code 3000 and end (generally) at Section 3465.  These code sections deal with all sorts of issues, including what happens when multiple jurisdictions may have the power to issue custody orders (this is referred to as a UCCJEA issue), what the court has to considers in a child’s best interests, the order of preference in making custody orders (i.e. to both parents jointly, then to either parent, then to others, etc.), investigtions and evaluations by experts concerning custody, mediation and counseling for example.  Ultimately, judges in Orange County family courts have vast authority to do what they believe is in the best interests of a child.  Child custody orders are rarely overturned on appeal due to the discretion afforded California judicial officers in making custody orders.  Know your judge is the mantra.  For more information about custody, click here.

How is property divided in a divorce?

This is a complicated question to answer because there are so many variables to how the court would ultimately decide on the division of property.  Generally, all community property (property acquired during marriage that is not separate property) is divided equally between the parties.  Separate property is property acquired before marriage, after separation, or by gift, inheritance, etc.  Property acquired through other separate property is also separate (for example, rent received during marriage from a rental property acquired entirely before marriage will be separate property unless it is commingled or transmuted into community property).  Where is gets tricky is when courts must decide how to divide mixed assets (those that are part community and part separate), how to divide business interests and other complex assets.  Of course, parties are free to decide how to divide their property in their divorce case so long as the agreement is mostly fair and both parties agree without duress and free from coercion or fraud.  For more information about property division, click here.

What is a Family Code 2640 reimbursement?

Family Code 2640 is a statute that allows reimbursement to a party that contributes his or her separate property to the acquisition of community property.  It is a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement, which means that the amount of the reimbursement is capped at the amount of separate property used to acquire community property.  The law does not allow interest to accrue on the contribution.  Notably, the reimbursement can be less than the separate contribution if the value of the property decreases or if additional loans are taken out to reduce the equity.

What is a Moore Marsden Calculation pertaining to a Family Residence?

The cases of Moore and Marsden combine to create one of the most common ways to determine the community property portion of a family residence.  This theory of calculation arises when one party brings a separate property house into the marriage and then over time the community gains an interest in the property over time.  Generally, when property increases in equity value because of appreciation over time and due to the pay down of the principal balance of a mortgage obligation, the community (both parties) will enjoy part of that appreciation and equity.  To gain a Moore Marsden community interest, the property must

  • Increase in equity value;
  • Community property income must be used to pay the mortgage obligation associated with the residence; and
  • The principal portion of the mortgage is paid down over the course of the marriage.

For more information about characterization of property, click here to view our property guide for divorce.

Who gets the Family House in Divorce?

The question of who receives the house in divorce in Orange County is common and can be answered in a variety of ways.  Basically, either party can obtain the house in dissolution of marriage cases under certain circumstances.  Almost always, the Orange County Family Court will not require a party to remain as an obligor on a mortgage or other secured loan on a real property residence.  As a result, if you want to keep the house in divorce you should ensure that you will be able to refinance the loan in your name alone (or with another cosigner) and buy out the other party’s equity interest, if any.

The law allows for deferred sale of the family residence in certain circumstances where minor children are living in the house and it would be in their best interests to remain in the home for a period of time.

For a complete guide to which party receives the house in divorce, click here.

What is family court like?

Hearings in family court in Orange County vary in nature based the issue involved and type of hearing.  There are generally four categories of hearing types.  First, Family Resolution Conferences (Case Management Conferences, Status Conferences) are hearings aimed to inform the judge where the case is in terms of resolution.  The hearings are short and usually just attorneys attend.  The next type of hearings involve motions, which basically means a request, filed by either party in a case via a form called a Request for Order (RFOs).  RFOs can be used to request a wide array of things including custody, support for a child, spousal support, debt service, exclusive use and possession of an asset, and so forth.  In nearly all RFO matters in Orange County, the court will permit testimony on the date of the hearing due to Family Code 217.  If you appear in court, you had better bring any witnesses you want to testify and be prepared.  Make sure to follow the rules set forth in Family Code 217 for notice to the other side.  For our complete guide to Request for Order (RFO) hearings in Orange County, click here.  The third type of hearings involves a Mandatory Settlement Conference, or MSC, where the parties try and resolve their differences for the last time before a trial is set.  Finally, a trial will occur when no agreement is reached.

For more information about family court proceedings or help with your case, contact us today.  Call (949) 955-9155 for a free, private consultation.