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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers from Our Murrieta Family Lawyers

When you have questions about a family law matter our lawyers have 45 years of combined experience and knowledge to help. The Grey Legal Group, APC has assisted numerous clients throughout Southern California and Riverside & San Diego Counties and are well-prepared to help your family.

Read some answers to our frequently asked questions below or call our Murrieta family lawyers at 951.363.2255 to schedule your free initial consultation.

What are the grounds for divorce in California?

California is considered a "no-fault" state, meaning no special circumstances need to exist to terminate a marriage. When one spouse petitions for a dissolution of marriage they cite "irreconcilable differences" as the reason they wish to end the marriage. As long as there has been a breakdown in the marital relationship that no counseling through the court, religious organization, or other professional can remedy, a divorce will be granted.

What is the difference between a divorce and a legal separation?

When a final judgment is entered in a divorce case, all property and debts are divided, spousal support (alimony) is determined, and, if there are children involved, custody, visitation and child support orders are made. Additionally, the parties' "marital status" is terminated, meaning they are no longer married. This has ramifications on the ability to re-marry, file taxes separately, and on employer health insurance coverage.

In instances where the parties do not wish to divorce, they can stay "legally married," divide all their assets and debts, award spousal support, and make child custody and support orders through a legal separation filing. Legal separations can be converted to a divorce. In instances where one party wants a legal separation but the other requests a divorce, the court will grant a divorce.

How do I get full custody of my child(ren)?

California courts consider the "best interests of the child(ren)" when determining legal and physical custody. Unless certain factors exist, the parents will have shared (joint) legal and/or physical custody of the child(ren) based on a presumption in the California Family Code. Physical custody addresses the time that the child(ren) will spend with each parent. Joint legal custody means that the parents must share and consult each other when making important legal decisions related to education, health, and religion.

Do I have to pay child support if my child spends the same amount of time with me?

Child support orders are based on a rigid and strict guideline calculation found in the Family Code. Both parent's incomes and the percentage of time a parent is responsible for the child are taken into consideration when determining child support awards. If there is an imbalance in incomes equal timeshare will often result in a child support award. There may be other instances where there is an imbalance of time and a child is with a higher income earning parent, the lower income earner may be ordered to pay child support. Only in the most extreme circumstances will the court allow deviations from the child support guideline calculations.

I made more than my spouse when we were married, how long do I have to pay spousal support?

Final spousal support awards are generally based on a number of factors. There is no guideline formula and the duration of orders varies based on the length of your marriage. Typically, if a marriage is less than ten years old, spousal support is awarded for half the length of the marriage. If your marriage is long term the court will order lifetime support and maintain jurisdiction over the issue until the supported spouse gets remarried or circumstances warrant a termination of support.

Can the court order the other party to pay for my attorney?

A request can be made to the court for the other party in a family law case to pay for attorney fees the other party has incurred. This request can be based on an imbalance of income or conduct that leads to a significant increase in attorney fees.

I am on active duty in the military. Is my spouse entitled to any of my military retirement?

Through the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, Congress gave states the ability to treat military retired pay as property in a military divorce. In California, military retirement may be considered community property, meaning your spouse is entitled to one-half of the "community property interest." Certain criteria must be met in order for California courts to have jurisdiction on the issue. While we often hear "we weren't married for ten years so my spouse doesn't get my retirement," this is not true.

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