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
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,
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
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.