Family Law


Welcome to our frequently asked questions page. Here you’ll find quick answers to many common questions about divorce, child custody, and other family law matters. Every case is different, so these answers are general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.

For more in-depth information, check out our individual practice area pages, take a look at our family law blog, or contact us directly. To receive feedback on your case, give us a call or fill out a free case review online. Our managing attorney will examine the details and give you your options over the phone at no charge.

How long does divorce take?

Some states have a mandatory waiting period for divorce. California is one of these states.

In the Golden State, you face a six-month waiting period. That’s the minimum amount of time between filing for divorce and finalizing the process. It can even take longer, depending on the circumstances. Short marriages with no children and little shared property, where spouses agree on all the issues, take the least time. Though the more assets to divide, conflict, and other topics to deal with, the longer it can take.

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Do I need a divorce lawyer?

The short answer is no. You can legally represent yourself if you choose. It’s not often advisable, but the law doesn't require you to have counsel. Again, this works best in simple cases.

When you have children, property, spousal support, or other issues, divorce gets complex in a hurry. An experienced divorce lawyer watches out for your best interests, leads you through the process, and can prevent costly mistakes.

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How much does divorce cost?

This probably won’t surprise you, but divorce isn't cheap. The process comes with various costs, emotional as well as financial.

Exactly how expensive it becomes depends on many factors and each case plays out differently. Among others, you have attorney fees, court filing costs, and even potential third-party expenses, like a parenting evaluator, visitation supervisor, or expert witness.

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Do I have to move out of my home?

You don’t have to move out of your home during divorce.

Unless a court order requires you to leave, we don’t recommend vacating. In many cases, it can harm your position.

Choosing to move before reaching a divorce settlement hurts your child custody claims, can increase spousal support exposure, or damage leverage in other areas. We urge you to remain in your home until meeting with an attorney to determine if that’s truly the best move.

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Does the mother always get custody?

Despite the popular misconception, mothers do not always get the children in custody cases. Many fathers feel they’re at a disadvantage, but legally speaking, the laws are gender neutral and don’t favor one parent over the other.

Parenting history and demonstrating your parenting ability to the court are the keys. At Goldberg Jones, we’re experienced in telling a father’s story in a persuasive manner, presenting our clients in an ideal light, and advising them on the best course of action.

How does the court determine custody?

As written, the laws don’t favor one parent over the other, so mothers and fathers have equal rights to pursue custody.

The standard the courts use to decide on these matters is the “best interests of the children.” In most cases, this includes continuing and frequent contact with both parents. When parents can’t come to terms on their own accord, the courts examine several legal factors to determine custody. It’s common for the court to call in a third-party parenting evaluator to offer a detailed report and recommendations. Ultimately, a parenting plan will lay out things like residential schedule, transportation arrangements, decision making power, and more.

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How can I protect my custody and visitation rights?

The best way to protect your custody and visitation rights is to use them.

Be a major, active part of your children’s lives. Take advantage of the opportunities you have to spend time with them. Stability and consistency are key.

Courts don’t like to drastically alter a child’s situation. If you’re a big part of their lives before divorce, that increases the likelihood of keeping a similar role after. This is one reason we recommend staying in your house if possible. Moving out reduces the time you have with your kids. It’s important not to let yourself to be cut out of your children’s lives just to simplify yours.

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Can my ex move away with the kids?

It is possible for the primary parent to relocate with the children to another city, state, or even country. It’s not easy and there are many hoops to jump through.

Most orders contain built-in notice requirements before a move can occur. On the other hand, to block your ex from moving with the kids you must file an objection or modification proceeding. This puts the issue in front of the court for a ruling. As with other custody matters, the court weighs many factors when deciding on the best interests of the children.

Does the court split everything 50/50?

When it comes to the division of property, California follows community property statutes.

The general guideline:  if it was earned or acquired during a marriage, it belongs equally to both parties. The courts also have the ability to include separate property, depending on the circumstances.

However, this doesn't mean you simply split everything in half. Courts have the discretion to divide property in a “fair and equitable” manner. The overarching goal is for both spouses to land on stable financial footing and enjoy a quality of life similar to what they experienced while married.

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How do you calculate child support?

In California, child support follows a uniform formula that accounts for many factors, including the number and ages of the children and the net income of both parents.


These payments cover the cost of food, shelter, clothing, and other regular necessities.

Though it appears relatively simple on the surface, the initial calculation often ignores relevant information that can influence the amount. That’s why it’s important to have a professional look over your case. At Goldberg Jones, our attorneys are adept and experienced at calculation and explore any additional facts that may impact the final support amount.

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In many respects, legal separation often resembles divorce on a practical level. A couple splits up, lives separately, establishes a child custody plan, divides any assets between them, and the rest.

The biggest difference is that with legal separation, you technically stay married. There are a number of reasons to choose legal separation instead of divorce, but you should talk to a lawyer to make sure it’s the best choice for you and your situation.

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Should I mediate?

In divorce, mediation can be a useful tool. Through this process, a couple meets with a neutral outside party to negotiate the terms of a settlement that works for both spouses.

You can use mediation to hammer out the division of property, child custody arrangements, support payments, and more. It can help you reach your goals, reduce conflict and stress, and even lower the cost of divorce. A lawyer isn't required for mediation, but it’s probably to your benefit to have representation, especially if your spouse has an attorney.

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