A. A divorce action, also called "dissolution of marriage" ends your marriage, and when the judgment is entered, you are returned to the status of a "single" person. In order to start the divorce process you must file a Petition for the dissolution of marriage with the Superior Court for the county in which you have lived for 3 months.
A. If you have been served with a divorce Petition and Summons, you have 30 days from the day you were personally served with the documents. Your response to the Petition will be on Family Law form 120 (FL-120). You must file the original form with the court and a $435 fee, unless you qualify for a fee waiver. You must also serve the other party with a copy of your Response. If you do not serve and file your Response within the required time, 30 days, a default may be entered against you.
A. California is a "no fault" state, meaning there does not need to be "cause" or a "wrong" party to obtain a divorce. The most common reason cited in divorce documents for termination of a marriage is "irreconcilable differences."
A. Attorney fees vary from case to case. To a large extent, the cost of your case is a function of the complexity of the issues, whether child custody/visitation is in dispute, as well as, the level of cooperation between you and your spouse. At the law firm Quinn & Dworakowski, we are mindful of costs, and we strive to handle each case in a cost effective manner. This includes helping you weigh the benefits and costs of settlement versus litigation. We are experienced attorneys and consequently we work efficiently to help save costs.
A. Every attorney has a different personality and style, and it is important that you are comfortable with whomever you retain. It is also important that your attorney is experienced regarding the issues that you are facing. At Quinn & Dworakowski, we handle all types of family law matters from the simplest non-contested divorce, to complex custody cases, to cases involving high net-worth individuals with substantial assets and issues concerning business valuations. Our attorneys are well-respected in Orange County by both lawyers and judges. Our firm also has a stellar reputation for personal service, experience, and the compassion and respect we show clients. In fact, client satisfaction is the measure of our success.
A. We do charge $500 for your consultation, but if/when you retain us, a $500 credit is applied to your balance, so the consultation does not actually cost you any money if we represent you. The attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski take your consultation meeting very seriously. Indeed it will be one of the most important meetings you will have with us. Because we ask our clients about their specific issues, prior to your consultation, we will be knowledgeable about your case, and will provide you important information at your consultation. This will be valuable information for you, regardless of whether you ultimately choose to hire us.
A. In order to obtain a California divorce, you must meet the state's residency requirements. The state must have jurisdiction or "power" over the parties in order to grant a divorce. Either spouse may establish this requirement by showing that one or both of you have lived in California for the last six (6) months immediately prior to the filing of the Petition and in the County where you plan to file the divorce for the last three (3) month immediately before filing the Petition.
A. In California, a couple can be legally divorced 6 months and 1 day from the date Respondent is served with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and the Summons. But practically speaking, it may be several additional months or years before the parties can come to a full agreement on the division of property, child and spousal support and child custody issues. Regardless, the entry of judgment terminating a marriage cannot be faster than the 6 months and 1 day. This is a mandatory waiting period required by California law.
A. Discovery is the legal process used to obtain relevant material information necessary for the preparation of a case. The Discovery process starts after the Petition and Response have been filed, and before final settlement or trial. Both sides collect and exchange information about the case from each other or third parties in preparation of trial. The information gathered during discovery is exchanged between all parties in the case, but is not filed with the court. Some of the discovery goals are to collect facts; take party and witness depositions, find out what the other side is going to say, evaluate opponent's case, evaluate your case and evidence; and collect evidence (documents, photos, insurance policies, reports) you need to present your case in court.
Discovery helps the parties narrow the issues in the lawsuit, provides evidence that may be used at trial to support their causes of action, and in some instances obtain admissions from the opposing party. An overriding public policy consideration for discovery is to enable a fair and speedy resolution and justice, and in order to give the litigants access to all material facts in their case. Discovery also gives the parties Family Law cases require the parties to exchange full disclosures of their assets and debts early in the divorce process. The attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski are intimately familiar with the Discovery process, and we do our utmost to ensure our clients receive discovery timely.
A. A Partial Child Custody Investigation (partial CCI) is a court ordered investigation when concerning information arises in a case. For example, when parents are seeking custody and a visitation plan with their children, and allegations of alcohol or drug abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, stalking/harassment, credible threats, child concealment, emotional instability, criminal history or parent estrangement (alienation) or other issues that concern the court arise, the court may order a partial CCI, limited to 3 issues.
The focus of a partial CCI is to obtain available information and to prepare a report to the court concerning issue identified by the judge, factors affecting the children's needs and best interest, and recommendations concerning custody and visitation.
The parents are required to come to the courthouse and meet with a CCI investigator. The investigator will collect information from the parents, teachers, doctors, dentist, church groups, friends and extended family. The investigator may also request to speak with the children if they are old enough. It takes approximately 60 days to complete the partial CCI. Generally, a $500 deposit is required, and the total estimated cost is $1500-3500.
A. The focus of a full Child Custody Investigation (CCI) is the same as the partial CCI, to obtain available information and to prepare a report to the court concerning issue identified by the judge, factors affecting the children's needs and best interest, and recommendations concerning custody and visitation. The difference is however, that in a full CCI, a home visit is made by the investigator to both parent's homes, and that the court can request more than 3 issues for investigation. A full CCI takes approximately 90 days to complete, and a $1000 deposit is required. Generally, the total estimate cost is between $1500-3500.
A. A custody 730 evaluation is very similar to a full Child Custody Investigation in that the custody evaluator speaks with the parties, the children, third parties, including teachers, doctors, neighbors and others, and is licensed to perform psychological testing on the parties. The evaluator will also make at least 1 home visit to each parent's home and will, among other things, observe the interaction between the parent and child and others who may live in the home. Unlike the court mediators or investigators, a 730 evaluator does not have access to "RAP sheets" or other law enforcement records, unless the parties provide copies to the evaluator of any police reports they may have.
A 730 evaluation can take several months to complete, and the cost can range from $7500 to $15,000 or more depending on the complexity of the case and the issues. When the testing, analysis of the results and the interview process is complete, the evaluator prepares a report, usually several pages long, and submits his or her recommendations to the court. The parties can either agree on all or some of the recommendations, or they have a full hearing on the 730 process and outcome. The evaluator can be subpoenaed to court to testify and is subject to cross examination. After the hearing is completed, the judge will make an order regarding custody and visitation that is in the best interest of the child based on the evidence and testimony presented by all witnesses in court.
A. That depends. While attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski always seek to promote settlement, sometimes it is not in your best interests to settle a case too soon, or at all. In any event, you ultimately decide whether you wish to seek settlement on your case, and our attorneys will offer their expert advice in this regard. We find our best settlements come about for clients because we are prepared, and that we are willing to litigate, ultimately leads to better settlements for our clients.
A. Litigation arises when two parties cannot reach an agreement to resolve their issues and have to turn to the court system for resolution. A hearing/trial would then be held in front of a Family Law Judge. Because of our reputation as experienced and outstanding trial attorneys, clients often come to us when they require litigation. We find the fact that we are willing to litigate, ultimately leads to better settlements for our clients. In any event, an attorney from Quinn & Dworakowski will discuss both settlement and litigation options with you. Generally speaking, many cases can be resolved in a favorable manner without proceeding to court. However, there are occasions when settling a case will provide you with a less preferred result. Ultimately, resolving a case is your decision. It is our job to advise you of the pros and cons of your position and then guide you through the process to help you make wise decisions.