Divorce in California
San Diego Divorce Process - An Overview

Divorce in California – What to Consider

Divorce in CaliforniaDivorce in California may be based on the “no-fault” ground of irreconcilable differences between the parties, which does not require one party to prove fault or misconduct on the part of the other party (spouse or domestic partner). The decision to divorce should never be taken lightly. Fortunately, when contemplating seeking a divorce in California, most of our clients have given considerable contemplation about dissolving their marriage.

Divorce in California -The process requires both parties to address the process of deciding on marital property division, child custody and visitation, child support and spousal support. If you are considering filing for divorce in California or if you have been served divorce papers, your first action should be to consult with an experienced family law attorney at Schaffer Family Law Group, APC.

Our San Diego family law firm is well regarded in San Diego for aggressively representing the best interests of our clients.

Our attorneys and dedicated staff will work tirelessly to limit the emotional stress, fear, uncertainty and financial difficulties that accompany filing for divorce in California.


Legal Separation in California

Legal Separation in CaliforniaVery much like filing for divorce in California, gaining a legal separation in California requires much the same process as does getting a legal divorce. Divorce or separation, the California laws and process is closely identical. You begin by having your family law attorney petition the court and serve your spouse with legal notice, petition for legal separation. A California resident can get a legal separation and have the agreement cover all aspects of the relationship except that it does not change the marital status.

Why would someone want a Legal Separation?

Most commonly, a Legal Separation is desirable when one of the spouses wants to stay married for religious reasons; or wants to maintain various insurance coverages.


Marital Property Division

Property Division and the classification of property is an important step in the divorce process leading up to a divorce settlement agreement that meets both parties’ and the court’s expectations. The court has jurisdiction only over the community property of the marital estate, defined as any asset acquired or income earned by a spouse during the marriage.  A spouse’s separate property is property acquired before the marriage, as well as gifts or inheritances acquired during marriage by one spouse alone.

The job of the court is to divide all the marital property as equally as possible.  Obviously, some assets such as a single automobile or a marital home that is shared by both spouses cannot be divided equally unless they are sold and the proceeds then divided between the parties.  The court may award different assets of roughly equivalent value to the parties.  For these reasons, valuation questions are often sticking points and can often become quite contentious.


Child Custody in California

Child Custody in CaliforniaChild Custody in San Diego During the process of a divorce in California, the court will make decisions as to both legal and physical custody of minor children.  Legal custody is defined as the right to make decisions about the child, while physical custody is defined as having actual custodial care.  Custody can be sole or joint, depending upon many factors affecting the best interest of the child. The court will take into account many issues including any history of domestic violence.

The Court can assist the parties develop a visitation plan that will specify when and how long the child will reside with each parent.  When deemed necessary, the court might order visitation to be supervised either by a professional outside agency, another adult, or the custodial parent.  In the most extreme situations, the court may deny visitation rights altogether.

Child Support

San Diego Child Support Generally, the court will order the higher earning parent to pay a monthly support amount to the parent with less income. This obligation will continue until a child reaches the age of 19, reaches the age of 18 and is no longer a full-time high school student, marries, becomes an emancipated minor or dies.  The amount of support is calculated according to a statutory guideline that considers a number of factors. Under certain circumstances, your attorney can request the court deviate from a guideline child support order.


Spousal Support in California

Spousal Support in CaliforniaSpousal Support (Alimony) in San Diego While spouses have an inherent obligation to financially support each other during a marriage, the goal with an order of spousal support — also known as alimony or maintenance — is that the party receiving spousal support will become self-supporting within a determined period of time.  Support can terminate earlier if the receiving party remarries, and sometimes if the party cohabits with another and the paying spouse has their attorney seek a modification.   Whether or not spousal support will be granted and how much will be ordered is based upon a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, the age and health of the spouses, the unique needs of each spouse, and the calculated expenses related to the adequate support of the children.


Fathers’ Rights in California” (Paternity)

Fathers' Rights in CaliforniaPaternity (Fathers’ Rights) in San Diego A party can bring an action to establish or challenge paternity at any time, although it is typically used during child support proceedings where issues of custody and visitation are being decided.

Our San Diego fathers’ rights and paternity attorneys help clients come to terms with the complete picture of a father and child relationship. It might mean establishing paternity, a divorce proceeding or hammering out a thorough parenting plans. We heartily believe in fathers’ rights and a father’s involvement in their children’s lives.


Divorce Mediation in California

Divorce Mediation in CaliforniaDivorce Mediation and Litigation. Different couples take different paths to arrive at a divorce.  A divorce in California is a legal process which begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of marriage in court and becomes final when the court enters a decree granting the divorce.  Depending upon the complexity of issues at trial, the hostility of the parties toward one other, and the valuation of property and its characterization as community property or separate property, this process can be costly, time-consuming, and emotionally draining.

There is an alternative to traditional litigation, however.  Mediation is a process where the parties work out their differences between themselves with the assistance of a trained mediator who facilitates communication.

San Diego Divorce Attorney Sarah T. Schaffer, CFLS, LL.M is experienced in both litigation and mediation. Sarah or another experienced family law attorney at Schaffer Family Law Group, APC can help you determine which method is best for you and be right at your side through the entire process.


Premarital Agreements for San Diego Couples

Premarital Agreements or “Prenuptial Agreements” allow spouses to decide — prior to marriage — how issues of property division and potential future support will be handled in the event of divorce. In setting up a business involving partners an ‘operating agreement’ and a ‘buy/sell agreement’ are often standard documents that wisdom suggests is a good first step. Many believe that a premarital agreement is a good idea as well. Others retort that such an agreement takes the romance out of a marriage. If a premarital agreement is desired, it must be in writing and must be signed by both parties in order to be valid.  Moreover, it must be agreed to voluntarily after a full and fair disclosure of the assets and liabilities of both spouses.  Each party (each spouse) must be represented by an attorney in the transaction. Such agreements are time sensitive and require advanced planning before your wedding date.

San Diego Divorce Lawyer Sarah T. Schaffer, CFLS, LL.M is experienced in all areas of Family Law and Divorce and can provide you with the best legal advice and representation possible. We are here to support you in circumstances such as:


» Legal separation
» Dissolution of marriage
» Pre-nuptial agreements
» Division of Assets & Property
» Pre-nuptial agreements
» Post-nuptial agreements

Sarah T. Schaffer, CFLS has options on property divisionSchaffer Family Law Group, APC

Founder of Schaffer Family Law Group is Certified Family Law Specialist Sarah T. Schaffer, CFLS, LL.M. Sarah and her hand-picked team of family law attorneys and staff are relentlessly focused on protecting and advancing her clients’ rights and interests in Divorce, Child Custody & Visitation, Spousal Support and other family law proceedings throughout the San Diego area, whether at the bargaining table in a mediation or in the courtroom in a traditional trial setting.

In 2011, Ms. Schaffer earned the coveted title of Certified Family Law Specialist by (CFLS) the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.


Why Choose a State Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS)?

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Attorneys may identify themselves as a State “Certified” Specialists in California only if they are certified either by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, or an organization whose certification program has been accredited by the California State Bar. California attorneys who are certified as “Specialists” must have taken and passed a written examination in their specialty field, demonstrated a high level of experience in the specialty field, fulfilled ongoing education requirements, and been favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with their work. Certified Family Law Specialist, Sarah T. Schaffer, CFLS, LL.M has the proven qualifications that every divorce or family law matter deserves.

When you chose a divorce and family law attorney who is a State Certified Specialist, you know that he or she has devoted those time, energy, study, displayed professionalism noted by fellow attorneys and judges and maintains the highest standards of legal knowledge and ability for their chosen specialty.

Very few attorneys ever earn “certified specialization” in their law section. In fact, fewer than 1 in 200 California attorneys are certified specialists in their law specialty. Considering there are more than 200,000 lawyers in California, it is very difficult to be “certified” such that there are less than 1,000 board certified attorneys in Family Law.


Contact a San Diego Family Law / San Diego Divorce Attorney Today

To find out how an experienced San Diego Family Law Attorney can assist you and your family, call Schaffer Family Law Group at (858) 509-7907 to schedule a strategy session today.


“Sarah is a consummate professional and one of the most patient, meticulous, and thorough attorneys I have ever dealt with. I recommend Sarah without hesitation to anyone interested in superior results.”

Richard G.–Richard G.
Rancho Bernardo

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
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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

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