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Read T. Elizabeth Fields' article published with the Los Angeles Business Journal.

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California Divorce

A Divorce is the process by which a marriage between a man and a woman is unwound and the bonds of matrimony dissolved. The individuals are returned back to an unmarried "single" status, with the right to marry someone else. During this process, the marital property is divided, orders for custody and visitation of children are made, child support and spousal support are calculated and the responsibility for payment of attorney's fees is determined. This procedure is similar for a Legal Separation (except the married status of the parties remains intact) and a Judicial Dissolution of a California Domestic Partnership for a same-sex or heterosexual couple.

At the onset of the Divorce process, individuals often obtain temporary orders, such as for custody, exclusive use of a family home, restraining orders, support and payment of attorney fees. The Courts justify these orders as restoring individuals to their original status quo immediately prior to the commencement of their Divorce or to ensure order and stability. Often the initial orders issued by the Court will be determinative of the outcome of their Divorce, and the judicial officers have a great deal of discretion in fashioning them. It is for this reason that careful attention and effort must be given to the work done at the initial stage of a Divorce.

In California, after a Divorce case has begun there is a six month waiting period for married individuals to request that they be restored to a "single" unmarried status. Nonetheless, if the individual parties agree to settle their case, their written agreement may be submitted to the Court as a Judgment prior to the completion of the six month period. It may contain orders that become effective immediately upon signature by a judicial officer of the Court, but may also specify the future date that the parties will be restored to "single" status to comply with the legal requirement.

Often, it takes time to sort through and evaluate the marital estate and to resolve the primary issues of a Divorce, including custody and support. Where appropriate, experts are brought on board, such as forensic accountants, child psychologists, appraisers, and vocational examiners, who can assist a party's attorney in resolving these issues or providing testimony at Court proceedings.

Most times, life altering issues are decided during the Divorce, which have significant ramifications in each of the party's life for many years to come after the Divorce is "final". Even when the parties settle their case without Court intervention, careful attention and scrupulous detail must be given to their Judgment to prevent serious and unintended results which affect a client's custody, visitation, property and support rights.

Once the parties obtain a Judgment on some aspects of their case, the case may still not be over if there are lingering issues that have not yet been resolved or addressed by the Court. When there are minor children or support issues involved, often the Court retains jurisdiction to modify orders for a specified future.

For these reasons, it is important to have excellent legal counsel at every stage of the Divorce process. Law Office of T. Elizabeth Fields, Professional Law Corporation, works with its clients to develop and execute plans and goals to achieve the client's desired results.

For more information and a consultation with T. Elizabeth Fields please call (310) 860-7661.

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