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Divorce and Legal Separation

When you are considering a Divorce or Legal Separation, it is important that you are aware of your legal rights and how the process works. The Law Office of Debra A. Smith is dedicated to providing you with the legal counsel and representation you need to make sure that this transitional period in your life goes as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Though divorce or legal separation is often highly contested and emotional, we will always work in a calm and solution-oriented manner in order to help protect you and your family.

In the state of California, the most common ground for marriage dissolution is irreconcilable differences.  California is a no-fault divorce state, and anyone who wants a divorce, for ANY reason, is entitled to get one.   It doesn’t matter what state or even other country you were married in, if you’ve been a resident of the state of California for 6 months you can file for divorce here.   Likewise, it doesn’t matter why you are divorcing.  Infidelity, abandonment or other “moral” wrongs are not considered by the courts, and they have no bearing on the outcome of a divorce action.

If you’ve been served dissolution paperwork there are important time limits by which you must abide.  Failure to understand and comply with these procedures can cause you immeasurable additional legal work, or even, in a worst case scenario, a default judgment against you where you had no input on the orders made by the court.

Legal Separation is very similar to dissolution.  You have the same rights, remedies and responsibilities that you do in a true divorce case, however, at the end of a legal separation you are not a single person.  You are still “married” to the other party and are not able to legally remarry.    Legal separation is most often used by parties that can not, or do not want, to divorce; typically for reasons involving religion, health coverage or morality.

Our ultimate goal in dissolution matters is to settle the case without a lot of litigation, expense and stress.  Many cases unfortunately cannot be settled, usually because one party is unwilling to settle for whatever reason, or is not forthright in disclosing the marital assets.   If disclosure of assets is the issue, we can undertake Discovery on your behalf to obtain the information from the other party, or from third parties such as banks, employers or corporations.  Undertaking discovery can be costly and time consuming though, so we attempt to identify the scope of the relevant information needed and tailor our discovery requests specifically to items that are necessary and helpful to your matter.

If circumstances change and the original divorce order is no longer suitable to your life, you can seek a new order by filing for a Post Judgment Modification.  The court may grant a modification to the terms of the original judgment (such as the amount of spousal support paid or received for example).   Most modifications require a contested hearing or trial in court where you must show a change of circumstance such as the loss of a job, a change in one of the parties’ needs, or a serious illness or other life setback.  If you would like to know if your situation qualifies for a modification, it is important that you contact our office and let us evaluate your situation for you.

At the Law Office of Debra A. Smith, we’ve handled dissolution and legal separations for 30 years, and are highly in tune with the emotional issues and other stressors that go hand in hand with these cases.   We are uniquely situated to help individuals in this area, having proven our abilities and effectiveness over and over again.  If you are a facing a divorce or legal separation, please contact our office to discuss your options in a complimentary consultation.

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