The divorce lawyers at Kaspar & Lugay LLP are experienced in all manner of divorce and family law issues, and we have more than a decade of experience helping clients to protect their rights in all types of divorce cases and disputes related to child custody, child support, alimony, marital property division, domestic violence, paternity, move away and child relocation requests, restraining orders and prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
You have the right to represent yourself in your divorce proceeding, but it is always a good idea to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side who is familiar with California divorce law and your rights under the law. Emotions typically run high during divorce cases and even the most amicable divorces can become contentious when sensitive issues like spousal support, child custody or high-value assets are involved. Our Santa Barbara divorce attorneys will advocate on your behalf throughout the divorce process and help you get the best possible outcome in your case.
If you and your spouse are able to reach a mutually agreeable divorce settlement on your own or with the help of your divorce attorneys, you may never have to set foot in a courtroom. However, if there are key issues you are unable to agree on, such as child custody, child support and the division of assets, you may have to work these issues out in court.
The primary consideration of the court in a Santa Barbara child custody case is the best interests of the child or children involved. When deciding which parent the child will live with and who will have legal custody of the child, the court will take into consideration the following factors:
There are many benefits of establishing paternity, depending on who is requesting the paternity action. In a Santa Barbara divorce case, for instance, a father may wish to establish paternity to retain his child custody and visitation rights, or a mother may wish to establish paternity to enforce a court order for child support. Establishing paternity is also beneficial to the child, as it allows the child to inherit from his or her father and gives the child the right to access personal health information for the purpose of identifying potential health risks or medical problems.
Collaborative divorce is an alternative method of resolving a divorce, during which the spouses and their attorneys engage in four-way settlement meetings to resolve all of the couple’s divorce-related issues outside of court. Some divorcing spouses prefer the collaborative divorce method because it allows them to avoid a lengthy, costly court battle and gives them more control over the outcome of their divorce.
Absent an agreement stating otherwise, spousal support in Santa Barbara is taxable for the supported spouse and tax deductible for the spouse making the support payments.
Compared to community property, separate property is property or assets owned by a spouse prior to the marriage. If these assets remain your separate property during the marriage, they will generally be yours to keep after a divorce. However, there are some cases in which separate property can “commingle” with marital property and become mixed to such a degree that the separate property cannot be identified and separated during your divorce. If you are getting a divorce and you brought separate property or assets into your marriage, your best course of action is to hire a skilled Santa Barbara divorce attorney who can ensure that your separate property remains protected.
Many business owners, medical professionals and other high-income individuals with significant premarital property sign a prenuptial agreement to protect their property and assets in the event of a divorce. A prenup sets forth provisions for the division of property should a marriage end in divorce, which can help make the divorce process far less contentious and costly for both spouses.
Under California law, domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abuse or threatened abuse occurring between two people who have or formerly had an intimate relationship, or between two people related by blood or marriage. Abuse characterized as domestic violence in Santa Barbara is often physical, but it can also be verbal, emotional, sexual or psychological.
If you have been the victim of domestic violence in Santa Barbara, you can get a domestic violence restraining order against your abuser to prevent the person from having any contact with you or your loved ones. Many victims of domestic violence in Santa Barbara put off filing for divorce because they fear their spouse will harm them or their children if they pursue legal action. The first step in obtaining a domestic violence restraining order is to request a temporary restraining order (TRO), which typically lasts for two to three weeks, or until your court hearing. At the hearing, the court can grant a permanent restraining order, which can last for up to five years, or even longer if it is extended.
In order to qualify for a divorce in Santa Barbara, you must have lived in California for at least six months and in Santa Barbara for at least three months. If you or your spouse meet these residency requirements, you can file for divorce in Santa Barbara.
Uncontested divorce – In an uncontested divorce, the spouses are typically able to work together to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce settlement.
Contested divorce – In a contested divorce, the spouses are not able to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce. This is typically the case in high net worth divorces or in divorces where there are minor children involved, when the spouses have a lot to gain or lose in the divorce.
Default divorce – A default divorce in Santa Barbara occurs when one party does not respond to the other party’s petition for divorce. In a “true default” case, the party gives up his or her right to have any say in the divorce proceeding.
Summary dissolution – If you and your spouse were married for less than five years, have no minor children, have no significant assets or debts, and you agree to not request alimony, you may qualify for a “summary” dissolution, an immediate divorce action that eliminates the need for the requisite six-month waiting period.
In Santa Barbara, there is a requisite six-month waiting period from the date you serve your spouse with the divorce papers and the date your divorce is finalized. The actual length of your divorce, however, can vary a great deal, depending on the issues at hand and how easily you and your spouse can agree to the terms of your divorce settlement.
Child custody is one of the most contentious issues in Santa Barbara divorce cases, and for good reason. Child custody generally refers to the legal and practical relationship between a parent and child and has to do with a parent’s right to raise, care for and make important decisions about the child’s healthcare, education and religious upbringing. When parents get divorced in Santa Barbara, they will have to agree to an arrangement for physical and legal custody of their children, or if they can’t agree, let the court decide.
If there is a child custody order in place and you do not have written consent from the other parent, you will have to ask the court for permission to move with your children out of state or out of the country. The court will then determine if the child’s best interests are served by moving away with the custodial parent or remaining in Santa Barbara with the noncustodial parent.
Generally speaking, when parents get a divorce, the parent granted primary physical custody of the children, known as the custodial parent, will receive child support payments from the noncustodial parent. Even when parents are granted joint physical custody, if one parent’s income is significantly higher than the other parent’s income, the higher-earning parent may be required to pay child support in order to help maintain a similar standard of living for the children as they enjoyed before the divorce. In Santa Barbara, child support is mandatory until the child turns 18, or if the child is still enrolled in high school at that time, until the child turns 19 or graduates high school, whichever comes first.
If your spouse makes significantly more money than you, you may be entitled to spousal support payments, or alimony, after your divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to allow the lower-earning spouse to enjoy a similar standard of living after the divorce as he or she did during the marriage.
When it comes to divorce, California follows community property laws, which state that all assets and property acquired by the couple in marriage is community property, with the exception of property acquired by gift or inheritance. Santa Barbara spouses share equal ownership of community property and the property is subject to a 50-50 division in divorce.
If you are a business owner in Santa Barbara, getting a divorce can be more complicated than usual, especially if the business is considered community property subject to division in your divorce. It is imperative that you hire an experienced divorce attorney who can help you maintain ownership and control over your business if you are considering filing for divorce.
A couple can address many potential divorce-related issues in a prenuptial agreement, with the exception of child custody and child support issues. Under California law, child custody and child support terms in prenuptial agreements are not enforceable. The court will always consider the best interests of the children when deciding on child custody and child support issues in a divorce.