1. How long does a divorce take?  

One hundred and eighty days from date of service.  The date of service is when you or your spouse is handed the paperwork for the first time.  A legal separation occurs immediately upon the Judge signing the judgement, assuming there is a stipulation among the two parties.  The question is a loaded one because the real answer party determinative: oftentimes the first questions I ask my clients is "How much do you hate the other person" and "How much do they hate you?"  These determine the real impetus to the process because anger drives the process just as much as the money.

2. How is property divided?  

California is a community property state which means that all property is divided in half.  Community property is all property acquired between the date of marriage and the date of separation.  Note that I didn't say date of the filing of divorce.  Separation has been a hot button issue for many years now, but the California Supreme Court recently resolved the issue in In Re: Marriage of Davis 220 Cal.App.4th 1109, (2015) which efficiently made the date of separation the date one spouse decided to leave the marital home with the intent to not return.  There have been many loopholes to this, as well as ways of exploitation, and the case may not stand for much longer as is, as the Legislature will probably soon pass some laws modifying Davis to avoid some of its more draconian outcomes.

3. Will I get money from my husband or wife?  

It depends.  A complicated algebraic formula is used to calculate child support and is almost always determinative.  The two factors are time share of the children and the respective incomes of the spouses.  Temporary Spousal Support is up to the discretion of the judge - some have used the rule of thumb that the higher earning spouse pays the lesser earning spouse forty percent of his net income minus fifty percent of the lesser earning spouse.  However, Judge's don't always follow this very strictly.  

4. How long do I have to pay spousal support or child support?

Child support is available to either parent (whoever earns more or has more time share or both) until the child turns 18 years old.  There is never a final order - however, there must be a change of circumstances so one cannot constantly go back to court.

Spousal Support lasts half the length of marriage, unless it is ten years or more, in which case permanent spousal support is available.  This means that it can last longer, but the overall policy goal because of gender equality is to help the lesser earning spouse get back on his or her feet.  Divorce is a financial disaster for all involved, but it hurts some more than others.  For those that are vulnerable, spousal support allows time and money for education, and additional training to get back into the work force if one spouse has been the breadwinner.

5. How much is a Divorce?

Attorney Fees vary widely.  This firm charges $250 an hour, but the retainer depends on the complexity of the case.  I try to give a fair estimate of the total cost and make that the retainer.  This is because I have a rough idea of how long it takes me to do things.  However, if the unexpected occurs, the rates will be higher as additional motions or documents have to be filed.  That being said, my firm and my paralegals do my best to keep all clients abreast of the fees being incurred.  My job is not to make your financial problems worse.

6. Can I get my Husband or Wife to pay for my Attorneys Fees?

Yes, but usually some costs and fees still have to be paid as there are filing fees that go to the court, and service fees for process servers.  Also, if the request for attorney fees is denied, you will still be responsible for the amount due.

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1. How long after a bankruptcy can I get a credit card?

Credit card offers generally are sent to you shortly after your bankruptcy ends.  Interest rates tend to be high for several months, although they drop down to a reasonable rate after about 12 months.

2.  Will bankruptcy affect my ability to get a job or apartment?

Generally no.  In fact, an argument can be made that it improves your chances, especially if your credit is already bad.  After a bankruptcy, you no longer have any creditors so people feel more comfortable lending you money because of your debt ot income ratio.

3. Can I keep my car or house in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Yes.  You can keep your car or home in a Chapter 7 so long as you are current on all payments.  Otherwise, the car or house would have to be surrendered.  The silver lining to this is that any deficiency would be discharged in the bankruptcy and you would not owe the difference between the auction price and the amount still owing on the note.  If you are not current, a Chapter 13 would be preferable as you would be allowed to keep the property and repay the arrears gradually.

4. Can I get rid of income taxes in a bankruptcy?

Yes, taxes in a bankruptcy are dischargeable so long as they are more than three years old, have been assessed more than 240 days ago, and were filed in good faith.

5. Can I get rid of a second mortgage in a bankruptcy?

Yes, you can strip a second mortgage in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if the fair market value of the home is exceeded by the amount owing on the first mortgage.

6. Will bankruptcy stop a garnishment?

Yes, all garnishments will cease, and the underlying debt will be discharged at the end of the bankruptcy.

7. Can Alimony or Child Support arrears be discharged in a bankruptcy?

No.  However, in a Chapter 13, a debtor can repay the arrears over a set period of time, and avoid penalties and interest.


Law office of Robert Chang

Attorney with a focus on a parent's rights - child custody and visitation 

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