Divorce Lawyer

The Montes Law Firm is committed to helping you through a difficult time. If you are dealing with legal issues related to divorce, our California family law attorneys can help. Attorney Montes and her team are  committed to finding the best course of action for your unique situation. Whether you are ready to pursue mediation, a collaborative approach, or in the need of litigation, we have the experience and resources to help. You can count on The Montes Law Firm to find a personalized solution for you and your family’s legal needs..

Call The Montes Law Firm at 714-731-8600 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.

Divorce and Domestic Partnerships:

California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the spouse or domestic partner seeking the divorce does not have to prove that his or her spouse did something wrong. Citing “irreconcilable differences” is enough to obtain a divorce under California law.

In addition, both parties do not have to agree to a divorce in order to obtain one. Either spouse can make the decision to end the marriage, and one spouse cannot stop the process by refusing to participate.

There are several different options for divorce and legal separation, including:

Legal separation: This does not legally end a marriage or domestic partnership. Rather, a legal separation allows couples to live separately and make decisions about finances, property, and parenting without a formal divorce. You can choose to seek a divorce later on, but you cannot marry or enter into a domestic partnership with someone else while you are legally separated.

Annulment: This is also referred to as a Nullity of Marriage and is different from a divorce in that it declares the marriage or domestic partnership null and void.  In other words, a party is asking a Court to make a finding that the marriage was not legally valid, as if the marriage never occurred. . Having a short marriage in and of itself is not grounds for a nullity of marriage. An annulment is appropriate when, for some reason, the marriage was not legally valid in some way pursuant to California Family Code Section 2211, et. seq. For example, the marriage began by force or fraud, , one spouse is physically unable to consummate the marriage, or one spouse was already married to another person. Other reasons include unsound mind, either spouse was not 18 years or older at the time of the marriage, or if the spouses are related by blood.  Annulments are somewhat rare, and there are certain time limits that must be followed for some types of annulments.  

Uncontested Divorce or dissolution of Domestic Partnership: In an uncontested divorce, or uncontested dissolution of domestic partnership both parties agree to work together to establish the terms of separation. Either on their own or in mediation sessions, both parties come to an agreement about how to divide property and debt; whether either party will pay spousal support; and what type of child support, custody, and visitation orders you will need. If both parties can agree and present that agreement to a judge, the judge can sign off on it and it will become legally binding.

Some of our client retain our Firm as a consultant, or a “silent partner.”  In other words, the Client does not want our Firm to represent his/her interest in Court, and his/ her spouse does not know that we have been retained.  The Client simply wants our Firm to guide him/her through the process, assist with the preparation and filing of documents, and discuss the law, strategy and an action plan so that the Client can work together with his/ her spouse in reaching an equitable resolution.  This approach helps some families remain non-adversarial which helps some clients in reaching an expeditious resolution with his/her spouse.  

Contested divorce: In a contested divorce, the two parties cannot come to a mutually agreeable resolution. In this type of divorce, the parties can pursue mediation, and a collaborative approach to see if there are certain parts of the divorce they can agree on. This is the best method to try to attempt to collaboratively narrow the scope of contested matters which may result in litigation.  If the couples are able to agree on certain things, those elements can be turned into an agreement for a judge to sign, and the remaining issues may be left up to a judge to decide. In this case, both parties will present their case to a judge, who will make the final determination about property division, reimbursements/ credits, child support, spousal support, child custody, visitation, and anything else the couple can  not agree on.

Summary divorce: A summary dissolution is a much easier way to obtain a divorce, but only certain couples are eligible. In order to obtain a summary divorce, you must have been married for less than 5 years, have no children together (born or adopted), not own property together, owe less than $6,000 in shared debt, own less than $40,000 of shared property (not including vehicles), own less than $40,000 worth of separate property (not including vehicles), not pursue spousal support, and you must have signed an agreement that divides your property and debts. Essentially, summary divorces are designed for couples who have been together for a shorter amount of time and do not have children or large amounts of property to divide up in the divorce.

Keep in mind that California has certain residency requirements when it comes to divorce. The state of California requires you to be a resident for at least six months before filing a divorce, and one spouse must be a resident of the county in which the action is filed for at least three months. In addition, there is a mandatory waiting period of six months before a divorce can become final. In other words, from start to finish, the divorce process cannot take less than six months.

Planning Ahead

Whether you are seeking a divorce, dissolution of a domestic partnership, or legal separation, it is important to be aware of your financial situation beforehand. Understanding the entirety of your finances will help you make important decisions about property division, child support, and spousal support. Before making any decisions or meeting with an attorney, do your best to gather the following information: 

  • Real Estate documents (including appraisals), 
  • Vehicle information, 
  • Bank statements,
  • Stock and brokerage statements, 
  • Employment pay stubs, and
  • Retirement Account statements, such as IRA and 401(k) statements.

No two divorces are the same, and Attorney Montes is committed to finding the right solution for your situation. When both parties can get along well and compromise to reach a good solution, mediation may be the best option for your case. However, certain situations—like custody issues or restraining orders—require immediate litigation or trial. No matter your unique circumstances, our legal team will work with you to arrive at the best course of action.

Orange County family law attorney Amy M. Montes has handled hundreds of unique family law cases. She has extensive experience in mediation and litigation, and her intimate knowledge of California family law enables her to anticipate issues and prevent future complications. She is dedicated not only to protecting your rights, but also to helping you achieve a new beginning.

If you need legal assistance for divorce proceedings or other family law matters, contact The Montes Law Firm today. Call (714) 731-8600 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.