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Introduction: What is Divorce?

Divorce is a legal process that formally dissolves a marriage, terminating the marital relationship between spouses. The legal implications of divorce cover various aspects, and they can vary based on jurisdiction. California is a no fault state, meaning that divorce can be initiated and completed without proving that one spouse did something wrong.

No one marries with the intention of divorce. Relationships can be fragile and many do not survive the stress of financial pressure, relationship changes, and unmet expectations.

If you are considering a divorce, it is best to seek legal representation and not try to do it on your own. Abraham Lincoln said, "that a person that represents themselves has a fool for a client."


Filing for Divorce:

Initiating the divorce process involves filing a petition with the appropriate court. The petition must then be served to your spouse to formalize the divorce request. For individuals living in Los Angeles County any individual can file their action at the downtown Stanley Mosk Courthouse. However, individuals may also file in their or their spouses branch court, which for certain cases may be preferable for a more convenient location for the court hearings. Olsen and Olsen can help advise you on which court you have jurisdiction to file your action at, and which court would be preferable for your case.


Olsen and Olsen has experience litigating cases in all the Family Law Court's in Los Angeles and Orange County. This includes the following courts:

  • Compton Courthouse

  • Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse(Long Beach)

  • Pasadena Courthouse

  • Pomona Courthouse South

  • Stanley Most Courthouse(Downtown Los Angeles)

  • Torrance Courthouse

  • Van Nuys Courthouse East

  • Whittier Courthouse


Conversely, you may have been served with a Petition from your spouse. The court that your case is assigned to depends on where your spouse filed the divorce action. In this case you must file a response to the Petition. It is essential that you file a timely response to this Petition or you risk the court entering a default judgment in your case.


Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce:

Uncontested Divorce:

  1. Definition: In an uncontested divorce, spouses reach a mutual agreement on all relevant issues, and they present a joint petition to the court for approval. The actual status of married cannot be ended until six months after service of the Petition although a judgment can be entered earlier.

  2. Key Characteristics:

    1. Mutual Agreement: Both spouses agree on matters such as property division, alimony, child custody, visitation, and child support.

    2. Simplified Process: Since there is no need for a trial, uncontested divorces are generally faster and less complex.

    3. Cost-Efficient: Uncontested divorces tend to be more cost-effective as legal fees and court costs are usually lower.

Contested Divorce:

  1. Definition: In a contested divorce, spouses are unable to reach an agreement on one or more key issues, leading to a legal battle in court, if settlement is not possible

  2. Key Characteristics:

    1. Disagreement on Issues: Common points of contention include property division, spousal support, child custody, visitation, and child support.

    2. Litigation: The case may go to trial, and a judge will make decisions on the unresolved issues.

While, uncontested divorces are preferable as they result in quicker resolutions and lower attorney fees, it is not always possible. Many people get divorced because of their inability to reason with their spouse. Olsen and Olsen has experience in helping people in the Los Angeles County navigate their divorces whether it be Uncontested or Contested.

Divorce vs. Legal Separation:

Divorce and legal separation are legal processes that allow couples to formally address the end of their marriage or domestic partnership, but they have different legal implications and outcomes. Here are the key distinctions between divorce and legal separation:


  1. End of Marriage: Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, legally terminates the marital relationship. Once a divorce is finalized, the parties are no longer married, and they are free to remarry.

  2. Division of Assets and Debts:In a divorce, marital assets and debts are subject to division. Each spouse is entitled to a fair and equitable share of the community property.

  3. Spousal Support: The court may order spousal support (alimony) to be paid by one spouse to the other based on factors such as income, financial needs, and the duration of the marriage.

  4. Child Custody and Support: Child custody and child support arrangements are established during a divorce. The court determines legal and physical custody, as well as visitation schedules, based on the best interests of the child.

  5. Remarriage: After a divorce is finalized, both parties are free to remarry if they choose to do so.

Legal Separation

  1. Marital Status: Legal separation does not terminate the marital status. The parties remain legally married, and they cannot remarry while separated.

  2. Division of Assets and Debts: Similar to divorce, legal separation involves the division of marital assets and debts. However, the parties are still legally married, and the separation agreement outlines how they will manage their financial affairs.

  3. Spousal Support: Spousal support can be ordered in a legal separation, similar to divorce. The court may determine the appropriate amount based on the same factors.

  4. Child Custody and Support: Child custody and support arrangements can be established during a legal separation. The court makes decisions based on the best interests of the child, similar to divorce.

  5. Healthcare Benefits: Some couples choose legal separation for practical reasons, such as maintaining healthcare benefits for a spouse who would lose coverage in the event of divorce.

  6. Religious or Personal Reasons: Some individuals choose legal separation for religious or personal reasons that discourage or prohibit divorce.

  7. Reconciliation: Legal separation allows for the possibility of reconciliation. If the spouses decide to reconcile, they can do so without going through the process of remarrying.

Common Issues Arising in Divorce:

Restraining Orders: In California, a restraining order is a legal order issued by a court to protect an individual (the petitioner) from harassment, abuse, threats, or violence by another person (the respondent). Restraining orders are designed to provide immediate legal protection and prevent further harm. Click here for more details on Restraining Orders here.

Child Custody: Legal decisions regarding child custody and visitation are made based on the best interests of the child. Custody arrangements may include physical custody (where the child resides) and legal custody (decision-making authority). Click here more details on Child Custody on this page.

Spousal Support: Courts may award spousal support (alimony) to one spouse based on factors such as the length of the marriage, financial disparities, and the supported spouse's needs. Click here more details on spousal support on this page.

Child Support: Courts determine child support based on factors like each parent's income, the child's needs, and the custody arrangement. Child support is intended to cover the child's living expenses, education, and healthcare. Click here for more details on child support on this page.

Property Division: The division of assets and debts in a divorce is a crucial aspect of the legal process, and it involves determining how marital property and liabilities are allocated between the spouses. Click here more details on property division on this page.

Reimbursements: In California divorce cases, the concept of reimbursement refers to the compensation or reimbursement that one spouse may be entitled to for contributing separate property funds or assets towards the acquisition, improvement, or maintenance of community property. This typically arises when community property is enhanced or benefited by the use of separate property funds or efforts. Read more on reimbursements here.

Prenuptial/Postnuptial Agreements: Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements have multiple requirements and standards to be valid in California. Read more on Prenuptial/Postnuptial Agreements here.



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