Family Law Divorce Attorney

Divorce is a topic that nobody wants to think about, let alone discuss. Unfortunately, for many couples, after exhausting other options such as counseling and seeking advice from friends and family, the only solution left is to end their marriage. In other words, divorce. Each year, divorce rates range from 40 to 50 percent, and according to the CDC, there will be three divorces for every 1000 people in the U.S. That’s a significant amount of pain and hardship. In California, the divorce rate is even higher, hovering around 60 percent. To make the divorce process less challenging, it’s crucial to determine how you want to settle the marriage.

Three Approaches to Ending a Marriage

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation in Los Angeles offers a process where separating or divorcing couples work with a mediator to resolve disagreements and come to a settlement. This alternative to litigation can save both time and money. During mediation sessions, the couple meets with the mediator to discuss their issues and strive to reach an agreement on various topics, including child custody, property division, and spousal support.

The mediator’s role is not to make decisions for the couple but to facilitate communication and help them find a mutual agreement. Choosing an experienced and trained mediator is crucial for a successful mediation process. The goal of mediation is to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for both parties. If you are considering divorce mediation, consulting with an experienced Los Angeles divorce mediation attorney is essential to understand your rights and options.


Collaborative-mediation is a process where parties work together with a mediator to reach a resolution that satisfies everyone involved. This type of mediation typically involves open discussions in the same room. The mediator’s role is to facilitate communication and help identify areas of agreement and disagreement. Unlike litigation, collaborative mediation can be faster, less expensive, and preserve important relationships.

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If you are considering collaborative mediation as a way to resolve a dispute, it is crucial to consult with an experienced mediator who can provide guidance on the process and determine if it is the right approach for your situation.

Divorce Litigation

Divorce litigation is pursued when couples are unable to agree on certain divorce outcomes, and their attorneys present their case before a judge who makes the final decisions. If you live in the San Fernando Valley, hiring a Woodland Hills divorce attorney, such as Leon F. Bennett, can help you navigate the complexities of divorce. A legal specialist in divorce can provide comprehensive guidance on the various aspects involved in ending a marriage.

Litigation can be a lengthy and intricate process, so it is crucial to hire an experienced divorce attorney who can ensure that your rights are protected. If you are considering divorcing your spouse, reach out to an experienced divorce lawyer today to explore your options.

No matter which divorce strategy you choose, it is essential to understand the potential challenges that may arise during negotiations. It is always wise to start with a prepared list of items that both parties will need, whether the case settles out of court or in front of a judge.

Step 1 – Protect Yourself, Your Children, and Your Finances

If there is a history of violence or a partner with a bad temper, ensure the safety of your children and pets. Plan for them to stay in a secure place with adult supervision, like a parent’s house or with a trusted friend. It may also be necessary to obtain a domestic violence restraining order by consulting with a family lawyer.

Inform your children’s school teachers about the situation and ensure they are aware that your child can only be released or picked up by you. Take precautions to keep your child safe in case the unwanted or potentially violent spouse shows up at school.

If you live in an affluent Southern California community, it is essential to secure your assets. Consult with the prenuptial agreement lawyer you used before, or seek the advice of a lawyer specializing in postnuptial agreements. Contact your financial institutions, credit card companies, financial advisors, and investment companies to freeze joint accounts or remove your spouse’s name and access due to the potentially volatile circumstances.

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Step 2 – Verify California Residency Requirements

To file for divorce in California, you must have been a resident of the state for at least six months and a resident of the county where you intend to file for at least three months. Therefore, if you recently moved to Los Angeles County from Ventura County, you may need to wait two more months before filing or file back in Ventura.

Step 3 – Gather Marriage-Related Information

Before consulting a Family Law attorney, it is essential to collect key information. In California, divorce proceedings require documentation of both spouses’ earnings and outstanding debt. Compile the following items:

  • Copies of W-2 forms and income statements
  • Tax returns from the previous year
  • Pay stubs
  • Financial statements of stocks or real estate holdings
  • Mortgage and loan documents
  • Credit card statements
  • Deeds
  • Automobile titles
  • Any ongoing bills such as utilities
  • Life and health insurance forms
  • Your spouse’s Social Security and driver’s license numbers

Take a few moments to estimate your monthly living expenses as well.

Step 4 – Determine Alimony and Child Support Needs

During the divorce process, you may need financial support for yourself and your children. Temporary spousal support and child support orders can help you navigate this phase. Ensure that you complete and file the necessary additional forms to secure these arrangements.

Step 5 – Seek the Guidance of a Family Law Attorney

In California, various divorce forms are required to file for divorce. Hiring a local attorney familiar with the forms and your county’s regulations is highly recommended. Leon F. Bennett, a skilled Calabasas divorce attorney, can guide you through the necessary forms and the filing process.

Step 6 – Notify Your Spouse

After consulting with a local family law firm, you must inform your spouse about your decision to file for divorce. Fill out a form that both spouses can sign to acknowledge awareness of the proceedings. You can also serve your spouse with copies of the court filings.

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At this stage, determine the type of divorce you wish to pursue. If the parties are acrimonious and a battle seems inevitable, divorce litigation may be the most reasonable course of action. In this case, a judge will make the final decisions regarding asset division, spousal support, child support, and other related matters. On the other hand, if the parties believe they can settle their divorce amicably, Collaborative-Mediation or Divorce Mediation in Los Angeles may save time and money. In these processes, an impartial mediator assists the parties in resolving the issues related to post-married life.

A divorce family lawyer can advise you on the specific circumstances and details of divorce under California law. Although there is a general assumption that marriages lasting over ten years result in permanent spousal support if the recipient does not remarry, other factors may influence the amount and duration of spousal support. Marriages lasting less than ten years often see spousal support limited to half the duration of the marriage.

Step 7 – Managing the Divorce Process

While the divorce process is underway, it is important to develop a clear separation plan. Determine where both spouses will live and establish arrangements for your children. It is crucial to avoid entering into new relationships during this time, as it can complicate emotions and potentially affect the determination of alimony and its duration.

Consider seeking counseling to address any remaining differences and help your children adjust to the reality of separation, prioritizing their emotional well-being throughout the process.

Protecting the children and striving to end the union with dignity, calmness, and respect are paramount during any divorce.

About the Leon F. Bennett Family Law Firm

With over 35 years of experience as a divorce attorney in Woodland Hills, the Family Law Firm of Leon F. Bennett and his seasoned legal team have successfully helped families navigate divorce, custody, support, and other family law matters. Our services span Southern California, including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Riverside, and Orange County. We represent clients in various communities, such as Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Westlake Village, Malibu, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Camarillo, Moorpark, Oxnard, Pacific Palisades, Ventura County, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Valencia, Northridge, Tarzana, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills.

If you need compassionate and effective family law solutions, contact us today for expert guidance and closure. Garrity Traina can provide the assistance you need during this challenging time.