Orange County Divorce Lawyer
Divorce in Orange County
Few people decide to commit to marriage believing that after some amount of time it will be dissolved, but many couples still end up filing for divorce. In fact, according to the data from the US Census Bureau, in 2019, the divorce rate in California was 6.5 divorces for every 1,000 married individuals. That may seem like a small number but consider the following. In 2019, married couples made up about 49% of the population. That’s around 9,624,456 couples. Of those couples, about 62,559 filed for divorce. The fact of the matter is that not only is divorce incredibly common, it’s also a lot more complicated than most people realize.
On television, divorce-related story arcs are often played out in such a way as to ensure maximum dramatic effect. However, just because your case doesn’t involve secret mistresses or murder plots doesn’t mean things will turn out the way you want them to. Divorces are inherently complicated for two reasons. On an emotional level, you are committing to a formal separation from someone who, at some point in your life, was significant enough to be worth marrying. On a more practical level, you are attempting to disentangle two lives that have likely become extremely intertwined over the years. This is why having a professional divorce attorney to advocate on your behalf is so important.
Orange County Divorce Attorney Can Help
Even if you and your former spouse have mutual respect for each other and have arrived at the decision of divorce jointly, you may be unprepared to answer the more difficult questions this process poses. How will communal property be divided? Who has the right to continue living at the primary residence? If there are children involved, the situation becomes even more complex. How should custody be determined? Where will the child spend most of their time? How will the financial responsibility be balanced out? How do you deal with disagreements regarding how said child should be raised? When faced with such questions, the instinct to take a defensive stance is overwhelming, and couples that would otherwise behave amicably towards each other may suddenly find themselves at odds.
Any misstep could provide fodder to your former spouse to build a case against you, and navigating divorce law on your own can be difficult. This is why it is absolutely critical to work with an experienced lawyer who understands divorce law in Orange County. The purpose of your attorney is to ensure that your rights are upheld in court and that you receive fair representation. Your Orange County divorce lawyer will be able to counter any attacks against your character and advocate on your behalf to see that you receive what you’re entitled to.
Allowing your attorney to represent you also helps keep things from getting unnecessarily personal. It can be difficult to see the person with whom you once formed a marriage claim that they are owed a larger share of your joint assets. Divorce lawyers can help ease the process of mediation and can often help their clients agree upon a mutually beneficial settlement without needing to go to trial. Not only is this less expensive for everyone involved, but it also saves you from the unnecessary strain of going through such an emotionally exhausting process.
If tempers flare and your former spouse starts making unsubstantiated accusations against you, call our firm. Your Orange County divorce attorney can provide you with a strong legal defense and calmly offer evidence to the contrary. This ensures that you aren’t taken advantage of or misrepresented in court simply because your ex-spouse feels slighted. Overall, it’s clear that having a lawyer on your team is important when going through a divorce. But understanding more about the lawyer’s role in the process may help to further illustrate why they’re such an instrumental part of the process.
What Does a Lawyer Do in a Divorce?
A divorce lawyer can start assisting you before you’ve even started the formal process of filing for divorce. If you and your partner are contemplating moving forward with a dissolution of marriage, a lawyer is an excellent resource to ensure that you are properly prepared. At this stage, your lawyer can advise you concerning making copies of important paperwork, gathering any evidence that may prove useful in court, and protecting your assets. Often people are so overwhelmed by their emotions that they forget about the various financial accounts, policies, and investments they may have accumulated throughout the marriage. Your divorce lawyer can ensure that nothing is overlooked.
This phase is twofold. Part of your lawyer’s role is to ensure that all of your own assets are appropriately documented. If your spouse discovers that you’ve omitted something from your financial disclosure, it will certainly be to your detriment in court. Even if the omission is accidental, it may appear as if you are purposefully hiding assets. At the same time, if you suspect that your spouse may actually be keeping certain things off the record, your attorney can investigate further. Information found during this process may prove significant later on, and an experienced divorce attorney will be well prepared for the challenge.
Another thing lawyers can do before you submit your petition is to ensure that you are eligible for divorce in the first place. California has specific requirements that must be satisfied ahead of time for a couple to get divorced. These requirements include residency minimums, as either you or your former spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months and in the county for at least three.
When you’re sufficiently prepared to proceed, you’ll need to prepare the necessary paperwork to request the divorce. Applicable forms include your divorce petition and a summons, though additional documents may be necessary if you have children or an extensive list of properties. Once these have been submitted, the court will scrutinize every detail, so it’s absolutely necessary that you fill these out correctly and in such a way that nothing is misrepresented or unintentionally misleading. A lawyer can walk you through each page and ensure that everything is being filled out in such a way that your interests and claims are well represented.
Once your lawyer has thoroughly reviewed the paperwork, you proceed with submitting the documents to the court and arranging for a copy to be delivered to your former spouse. At this stage, they may decide to either accept your terms as laid out by your attorney or agree to work out a settlement outside of court. If it’s the latter, your lawyer’s main role will be to assist in drafting up any legal verbiage to solidify your agreements and review anything proposed by your ex-spouse’s attorney to ensure that it is in your best interest.
If your former spouse decides to argue against the terms you laid out, mediation may still be possible, in which case your lawyer can again help iron out the details of your agreement. Alternatively, if a peaceful resolution is not possible, the case will go to trial. Under such conditions, it is especially important to have legal guidance because your former spouse is likely to attempt to convince the court that their claims hold more value than your own. To strengthen their position, they will be motivated to seek out any evidence that appears to discredit you. This especially true in cases involving child custody. Your Orange County divorce attorney will have prepared documentation ahead of time to contest such claims and misleading evidence and can ensure that you are properly represented.
What Can You Not Do During a Divorce?
Going into divorce proceedings can be scary, especially if this is your first time in the courthouse since getting married. Of course, there are all sorts of horror stories involving messy breakups that are consistently perpetuated by pop culture and the media. However, it’s important to remember that your attorney is well-practiced in the subject matter and is there to protect you first and foremost. Failing to trust your attorney and succumbing to panic is a surefire way to do the wrong thing and end up ruining your own case. For instance:
- Hide or destroy assets
Your former spouse is likely to have an attorney with their own investigative team, and any attempts to hide or destroy assets may be uncovered. No matter how noble your intentions may be when trying to hide a precious family heirloom, it won’t look well in court.
- Hide or destroy evidence
The same applies to any evidence documenting your life and relationships. The attempted tampering of evidence will be regarded in a far more negative light than the actual items you were trying to hide.
- Engage in name-calling or threats
Depending on the amount of animosity between you and your ex, you might feel compelled to tell them exactly how you feel. Whether it’s in person, over the phone, or on social media, it’s sometimes difficult not to call your ex out. However, letting your emotions get the best of you could arm your former spouse with a vitriol-filled voicemail they can later play in court to depict you as violent or unhinged. It can also antagonize your spouse, making them far more combative and unwilling to compromise. Instead, remind yourself to keep a cool head and trust your attorney.
- Allow your emotions to take over in court
This is understandable. On top of dealing with any pain, stress, fear, or frustration from simply going through the process of divorce, you may be forced to listen to your former spouse make outlandish claims about you as a partner or as a parent. It can be tempting to lash out in anger at the moment, but again, this will only make you appear less stable to the judge. Instead, take a few deep breaths and trust your attorney to handle the rebuttals on your behalf.
- Speak to your spouse’s legal team
If you and your spouse have a more amicable relationship, you might feel it is polite to engage in conversation with their legal team. However, you need to remember that their job is to advocate for your spouse and their best interests, not yours. Anything you say or do could be later employed in an argument against you. It’s not a matter of malice; it’s their job. The same applies to discussing divorce proceedings with your spouse outside of court sessions or mediation. If you have any questions that require legal insight or suggestions for a new proposition, consult your own legal team instead.
- Make big purchases
Your financial situation may change depending on the outcome of the trial. Even if everything goes in your favor, your tax status will change, and other aspects of your life may change as well. You could end up as a single parent with new financial needs to take care of, or perhaps need to move to a new residence. Being more conservative with your funds than usual and focusing on your savings may be necessary to ensure a smooth transition.
This is by no means entirely comprehensive, but it can be a helpful reminder during a stressful time. If any other situations come up where you’re unsure whether you’re doing the right thing, talk to your attorney. They can answer your questions, provide you with any necessary guidance, and ensure that you don’t accidentally hurt your own case in the process.
Should I Tell My Divorce Lawyer Everything?
Everybody makes mistakes. Everyone’s done things they’ve later come to regret. Depending on the severity of such experiences in your own life, it might be tempting to keep some of those moments to yourself. After all, it may seem innocent enough to avoid discussing the story of the one time you accidentally forgot to pick up your son from daycare or the time you indulged in a minor flirtation with an old flame, especially if it feels irrelevant to the case. But your lawyer is uniquely equipped to make that determination, and the detail you thought was not important enough to mention could be the one thing that convinces the court to make a decision in favor of your spouse. Remember that your attorney has extensive experience handling divorce cases and, as such, can easily recognize how that little, insignificant story could be used to undermine you.
Let them decide what’s relevant and what’s not.
Sometimes the opposite might occur. Perhaps you get along well with your spouse and don’t want to say anything negative about them. It’s an understandable feeling. However, your omission could result in the courts basing their decision on faulty information, resulting in an unfair or skewed resolution. Your attorney will have a much better understanding of how things will be perceived in front of a judge and can help ensure that all the information put forth is accurate while avoiding any intentional malice.
Ultimately, your attorney’s main job is to prepare for every eventuality, but they can’t adequately do so if they don’t have access to all of the facts. That way, when the opposing counsel brings up some unpleasant detail of your past, your lawyer will be well-armed to address the issue and resolve things to your benefit. In fact, one exercise that can prove useful is drafting out the timeline of your relationship with your former spouse, including all the important milestones in your marriage. The more your lawyer knows about you, your spouse, and any other parties involved, the better equipped they will be to represent you in court.
What If I Can’t Afford a Divorce Lawyer?
Attorney fees may seem like a big expense, but failing to hire an attorney can end up costing you much more. Without an attorney to adequately guide you through the process and advocate for your rights in court, the judge may choose to award a substantial amount of your assets to your former spouse or require you to pay them spousal support. That being said, family law attorney Stacy L. Campuzano understands that people going through divorce may also be experiencing financial strain. She believes that everyone should be entitled to high-quality legal representation when going through something as emotionally difficult as divorce, which is why she prioritizes making her services affordable.
If this is a significant challenge given your present circumstances, there may be additional alternatives to help you cover the legal fees of hiring an attorney. One option may be to include a request for your spouse to cover your legal costs during the divorce proceedings. This is especially helpful in situations where your spouse has actively worked against you to limit your resources. Our office can go over all of your possible options and guide you through the process to achieve the best outcome possible.
Whatever the obstacle may be, Stacy L. Campuzano is committed to helping you find a way through it so that you can benefit from the legal services of an expert in California divorce proceedings. Whether your case involves a complicated custody arrangement, a proposition for spousal support, or the division of vast amounts of property, Stacy has the experience and knowledge to help. She has even worked with clients who have dealt with domestic violence in their marriages. She knows how to utilize the system to ensure their safety throughout the process. To learn more about what Stacy L. Campuzano can do as your Orange County divorce attorney, you can schedule an initial consultation via her website, or contact her offices via the phone at 562-242-7955.