Experienced Stockton Divorce Attorney
Marriage and divorce are among the most important decisions that two people can make, and the consequences can be life-altering — not just emotionally, but also from a financial and legal perspective. Quite simply, divorce can be messy. The burdens imposed by a divorce have lasting consequences, particularly if they are borne of misplaced and inadequate legal advocacy. As such, the assistance of a Stockton divorce attorney is critical to securing a positive result.
Skilled divorce attorneys understand the highly sensitive nature of divorce and how best to compassionately — and relentlessly — advocate on behalf of the client, exercising diplomacy where beneficial and pushing for a favorable outcome through litigation where absolutely necessary.
If you’d like to speak to an experienced Stockton divorce attorney for guidance on next steps, we encourage you to contact the team here at McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau, LLP at your earliest convenience. Our commitment to engaging closely with clients is particularly relevant to family law matters, where a deep understanding of the client’s goals, concerns, and expectations are fundamental to success.
What is the Difference Between a Contested or Uncontested Divorce?
Divorce in California can be either contested or uncontested. Ultimately, if you and your spouse disagree as to specific terms of the divorce (i.e., child custody, alimony, marital property division, etc.), then the divorce is “contested” and you can submit a response to the divorce filing. The case will then proceed to litigation: discovery and court hearings will necessarily follow.
On the other hand, if you and your spouse agree to the terms of the divorce, then a response may not be necessary and the default judgment can be entered to the satisfaction of both parties.
Of course, even if you and your spouse disagree, a response can be filed, but the courts prefer an amicable settlement under most circumstances. California courts encourage divorcing spouses to “change their minds” and come to an agreement through mediation. Thus, a contested divorce can transform into an uncontested divorce after an out-of-court mediation process through which a negotiated settlement is reached.
Both Options Can Still Reach a Divorce Settlement with the Help of a Stockton Divorce Attorney
Why choose settlement? Negotiated divorce settlements not only resolve the conflict sooner (thus saving on time, effort, and legal costs), but also enable the parties to reach an agreement on various issues that may be different than what the judge would determine within the bounds of California law. For example, in a contested divorce, a family law judge may split certain assets in accordance with the law, but if the two spouses prefer a different arrangement for splitting property assets, then a negotiated settlement will guarantee that preferred split.
Unique Challenges and Opportunities in California Divorce
Whether you are initiating a divorce, responding to a divorce filing, or interested in reaching an amicable, negotiated resolution with your spouse, it’s important to understand the basics of California divorce law. Our Stockton divorce lawyer outlines some of the more important legal considerations below.
California is a no-fault state. In other words, there are no prerequisite conditions necessary to file for and obtain a divorce. That isn’t to say proof of misconduct is worthless — in fact, such evidence could be quite useful to bring to the court’s attention, as they may consider that evidence when making spousal support, child support, and custody determinations.
For example, if you are getting a divorce because your husband has been physically abusive, then evidence of such abuse should be brought to the court’s attention, as it could factor significantly towards a favorable custody rights determination for you (and could limit visitation rights granted to your husband).
Community Property Explained by a Stockton Divorce Attorney
California divides property in a divorce on the basis of a community property system, whereas most other states operate on an “equitable” system that gives courts substantial discretion to determine what a fair division of property would be post-divorce.
California keeps it simple.
Community property is straightforward in that it entitles each spouse to exactly half of the assets (and debts) acquired over the course of marriage. This does not include separate property, such as inherited assets and gifts (except in situations where those assets were commingled with marital community property assets, such as a gift of money invested into a shared real estate purchase).
Child Support Guidelines
Child support payments in California are determined on the basis of a strict statutory formula that accounts for the assets and income of both parents, as well as the discrepancy in income between both parents. Judges do not have much discretion to depart from the calculated amount.
Mediation and Litigation Can Also Be Managed by a Divorce Lawyer
As a general rule, it is best to “settle” a divorce out-of-court, where possible. It is substantially less time-consuming and less expensive, and — perhaps most importantly — minimizes the emotional fallout associated with sustained litigation. It also empowers the parties to develop their own divorce-related conditions and to do so with certainty. If the matter were to proceed to trial, then the family law judge might make determinations on the basis of law that are inconsistent with what either party wants.
No Matter the Issue, A Stockton Divorce Attorney at Our Firm Can Help You Work to a Solution
Here at MCJG, we are skilled negotiators who recognize the value of diplomacy and mediation in high-conflict divorce and family law matters. In situations where communications have not completely broken down, we are often capable of securing an outcome that ensures a fair division of assets and support, and doing so in a manner that preserves fundamental respect between the two parties. Our law firm serves clients throughout Central Valley and California.