California Divorce FAQ’s
Frequently Asked Questions of Sarah T. Schaffer

Divorce FAQ’s – 7 Frequently Asked Questions of Ms. Schaffer

Below are a handful of questions that many of our new clients and callers to the office ask. Family law issues and the consideration of divorce cause many to consider seeking expert legal representation. Typically, such circumstances are new for most individuals. Moreover, most people have never before had need to seriously consider separation, divorce, spousal support needs, child custody issues or property division. It is not surprising then that so many people ask variations of the same general –and crucial– questions. Please know, there are no foolish questions. Should your question(s) not be answered here, please use our contact form to see if wwe can be of assistance.

FAQ 1:

What is the Difference Between a Legal Separation and a Divorce and Which One is Right for Me?

In a legal separation, the parties are NOT asking the court to terminate their marriage.  Many people seek a legal separation in lieu of divorce for personal reasons (i.e. religious beliefs or health care concerns). The process is otherwise the same: the parties assets and debts are still divided.  There are no statutory residency requirements for a Legal Separation; whereas in a divorce, the Petitioner (the person filing for the divorce) must have lived in that county for the previous three (3) months.  You are permitted to file for a Legal Separation while awaiting the three month residency divorce requirement.


FAQ 2:

How Long will it Take for My Divorce to be Completed?

In the State of California, a divorce can be finalized no less than six (6) months from the date the Petition is served.


FAQ 3:

Will I automatically be Divorced in Six (6) Months?

No. If there continue to be unresolved issues related to your marriage after six months have passed, you must request relief from the court in the form of a Bifurcated Judgment.  A Bifurcated Judgment terminates or “dissolves” the marriage, recognizing that there are other separate issues related to the dissolution that are yet to be decided, but that the marriage no longer exists, pending resolution of the other matters.


FAQ 4:

Is Everything Divided 50/50? How do I Protect Myself Financially?

Once a Petition for Dissolution (Divorce) is filed with the court and properly served on the other party, there are “game rules” put into play called Restraining Orders. These orders of the court are listed on the back side of the complaint and apply to each of the parties equally, no matter who “filed”.  In general, both parties are prohibited from the following:

  • Taking minor children out of state without prior written consent or court order;
  • Making changes regarding your insurance including: canceling, borrowing against, cashing or changing the beneficiaries;
  • Transferring, selling or concealing assets, or using them as security for a loan without consent or court order; and,
  • Making certain changes to your estate plan,

FAQ 5:

Is Alimony Still Awarded in 2020?

Yes, and the duration and amount is solely at the discretion of the court.  Generally speaking, if the duration of the marriage was less than ten years, the courts will award spousal support for a period of half the number of years of the marriage.  A marriage lasting longer than ten years is considered a marriage of long duration and will often award support for a greater length of time.  If spousal support is litigated, the court would usually retain the right to decide the amount and duration of spousal support.


FAQ 6:

I Inherited a Large Sum of Money Before I was Married? Is my Spouse Going to get Half?

Not necessarily; in fact, a gift (or inheritance) is the separate property of the party receiving the gift (or inheritance). Unless the gift (or inheritance) was intended to be given to both parties, it is considered to be the separate property of the recipient, and is thus not community property.

Is There a Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody?

Legal custody is the right and the responsibility to make decisions related to the health, education and welfare of a child. Physical Custody refers to the periods of time physically caring for the child.


FAQ 7:

How is Child Support Determined?

Child support is calculated using a formula derived from state guidelines. There is a computer program used by the State of California (which your attorney can also use to calculate this) that takes the following factors into account:  Income of both parents (or ability to earn), the percentage of time the child(ren) spends with each parent, as well as various other factors that affect each parent’s net income.

San Diego Family Law Attorney, Sarah T. Schaffer is direct and will keep you informed. With her, you will have a strong advocate to represent and protect YOUR best interests, providing aggressive representation if necessary.

Sarah T. Schaffer In The News

Recent Media Events

Sarah T. Schaffer Recognized in San Diego Discovery Magazine With over 220,000 attorneys in California, Schaffer is one of the few, numbering 178 within San Diego, to hold the distinction of Certified Family Law Specialist.

San Diego Magazine Women of the Year Awards Colonel Sarah T. Schaffer, USMC – Camp Pendleton recognized for her Military Service as JAG Officer.

Top 50 Influential Leaders in San Diego Sarah T. Schaffer is active in the San Diego County and North County bar associations and supports the programs of Kids’ Turn San Diego, a nonprofit that helps children through family separations, and Casa Cornelia Law Center, which provides pro bono legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations.

Dividing a Business - San Diego Discover Magazine Not all businesses have marital value, especially smaller businesses whose primary value is from the efforts of one spouse.

Sarah Schaffer on the cover of Discover Magazine
Read Sarah's Latest Article In Discover Magazine OVER 50 AND DIVORCING; Four Important Things To Keep In Mind
What Happened to My Inheritance? If you inherit money during marriage, would it be considered separate property? Learn More

Family law matters are never simple By your side every step of the way

Certified Family Law Specialist CFLS Sarah Schaffer and Leslie Ryland have been certified by the State Bar of California as “Certified Family Law Specialists,” a distinction earned by family law attorneys who have “gone beyond the standard licensing requirements.” Every attorney at Schaffer Family Law Group has either earned their CFLS Certification, or is actively working towards that professional goal as a requirement of the firm and our commitment to providing our clients the most skilled and proficient attorneys in San Diego County.

Take The First Step

What You Should Know

Top 10 Mistakes In A Divorce To avoid the top five mistakes in a divorce you must take a step back, remove the emotions and treat the process similar to a business transaction. Use these tips to help you expedite the process.

Divorce Over 50 How a 'gray divorce' will impact your retirement planning, including the timing of your retirement as well as the new economic reality divorce may bring to your life.

Top 4 Things To Know if Over 50 and Divorcing Getting a divorce after the age of 50 comes with its own set of challenges, both social and economic.

Professionals, Business Owners & Divorce Solving problems with the division of marital assets. The need for privacy and not leaving written records of your 'dirty laundry' for the world to see in the permanent public record and more...

Military Divorce Sarah serves as a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. Military families find Sarah’s understanding of the military and issues servicemembers face enable her to provide superior counsel.

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