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Guide to Divorce in Los Angeles

Getting a divorce may be one of the most challenging things that you ever decide to do, and certainly one of the most emotional. At the Law Offices of Evan Braunstein, we are invested in your marriage, your happiness, and the course of action that is best for you. Throughout the course of this guide, we will discuss a number of different items that are designed to provide you with the information you need regarding how to maintain a happy marriage, the impact of divorce, and the divorce process. If you have any questions or are looking for legal representation, we encourage you to call an LA divorce lawyer for a consultation immediately.

Table of Contents

We know that you have a lot of questions about marriage and divorce. We plan to provide you with some advice and legal guidance and in regards to the following:

  1. How to decide on a divorce;
  2. Avoiding the common pitfalls that cause failing marriages;
  3. The impact of religious observance on divorce;
  4. Common complications with divorce;
  5. How to handle domestic abuse;
  6. Different types of divorce proceedings;
  7. The effects of divorce on children;
  8. The impact of divorce on stay-at-home mothers;
  9. How divorce can impact and influence extended family members;
  10. How to help children during a divorce;
  11. How child custody is determined and different custody arrangements;
  12. How child custody works with children conceived out of wedlock;
  13. How spousal maintenance is determined;
  14. How debts are divided in a divorce;
  15. How assets are divided in a divorce;
  16. Common concerns about post-divorce arrangements;
  17. The impact of prenuptial agreements on divorce outcomes;
  18. The difference between divorces with or without an attorney;
  19. Appealing initial court divorce decisions;
  20. Divorce statistics in Los Angeles and California; and
  21. Moving on with life after a divorce.

How to Decide on a Divorce

Making the decision to end a marriage and leave a spouse is one of the hardest things a person may ever have to do. Of course, before a person actually decides whether or not divorce is the right thing for them, there are dozens of different things they must think about first. Consider the following advice on how to decide on whether or not getting a divorce is the right course of action for you and your spouse.

Start with Marriage Counseling

Before you make a decision about splitting from your spouse and meeting with an LA divorce lawyer, you should think very seriously about investing in marriage counseling from a trained professional. A marriage therapist can work closely with you and your spouse to help you address the problems that are leaving you feeling like divorce is your only options and provide you with tools for resolving those problems. While marriage therapy may not always save a marriage, it can, at the very least, help you to pinpoint exactly what the problem is and why divorce may be the right course of action.

Think About Life Without Your Spouse

It’s easy to be frustrated with a spouse and think that parting ways will provide you with the sense of relief that you need. But will it? Think about your life without your spouse. What will that look like? Sitting down and addressing the realities of life without your partner can be tough, but it’s important to do. Once you separate, you will end up living a completely different style of life which impacts you and your children alike. You may also suffer from less income than you’re used to, lose your house, or struggle to make rent or mortgage payments on your own. You may also discover difficulties in dating again and other things you no longer dealt with when you first got married.

Though life without a spouse in many instances may be challenging, it could also be something that sounds relieving and exceptional, especially if you have found yourself in an abusive relationship. Either way, be sure that you’re able to embrace a future without your partner.

Talk with Your Spouse

Surprisingly, one thing that couples who want to get a divorce often fail to do is to sit down and talk about why they want a divorce and what each party really wants from the other. If you want a divorce and your spouse doesn’t, you may be surprised to hear what they’re willing to do to make it work. Or the opposite may be true: at the mention of divorce, your spouse may tell you that they’ve been thinking the same thing and they’re ready to sign the papers. Either way, being on the same page about your wants and needs will help the future flow a little more smoothly, and if you do decide to divorce, may make working together through the divorce process easier.

Think About What You Really Need

Above all else, you should put your physical, mental, and emotional health above all else. If you have tried counseling and you do not feel as though your needs are being met and you are suffering physically, mentally, or emotionally as a result of your marriage, divorce may be the healthiest option. Think about what you really need and make this a priority by calling the office of LA divorce attorney, Evan Braunstein, today!



Avoiding the Common Pitfalls that Cause Failing Marriages

Deciding to get a divorce with the help of an LA divorce lawyer can be one of the hardest things for a person to do. One of the best ways to avoid divorce is to recognize the common pitfalls that cause failing marriages, and to avoid these mistakes before it’s too late. Consider these common problems that many people face, and some advice for mitigating issues and preserving happiness in your union–

Common Pitfalls that Cause Failing Marriages

What causes strife within a relationship? Why do some couples make it–seemingly happily, too–while others do not? The answers may lie in some of the most common sources of tension and dissatisfaction within a marriage. These include:

  1. Financial problems. Money, and not knowing how to communicate about money, can be a tough issue for couples. In fact, money can be one of the most uncomfortable topics for couples to discuss openly. Financial pressure on the marriage–which might include fighting about not having enough money, how money is being spent or earned, or how money is being managed–is one of the biggest sources of tension.
  2. Infidelity. An extra-marital affair can quickly ruin a marriage, and once a person has an affair, regaining their partner’s trust can be difficult to do (although with therapy and desire, it is possible). Avoid infidelity by being honest with yourself and your partner about your needs.
  3. Lack of intimacy. Lack of intimacy in a relationship can leave one or both partners feeling undervalued. And remember that intimacy isn’t just about sex; emotional intimacy is critical for the success of a marriage, too. If you feel like intimacy in your marriage is lacking, talk to your spouse about it and develop a plan that works for you. Even something as small as spending 20 minutes at the table during dinner talking about your day or scheduling a date night out can make a big difference.
  4. Lack of respect. Couples who have been together for many years often become too comfortable talking to their partner more rudely and aggressively than they would others, using hurtful language, making fun of their partner, intentionally not listening to their partner, or/and overall being disrespectful. Your partner is someone who always deserves your respect, even when you’re really frustrated or hurt. If you’re having trouble being composed when emotions are high, excuse yourself and take time to think about what you want to say.
  5. Lack of communication. Finally, even if there are multiple points of tension in a relationship, communication can truly make or break a marriage. Knowing how to communicate with your spouse despite the multiple points of tension and in a way that is precise, direct, honest, and that values compromise will get you far.

If you are struggling in your marriage, talk to your spouse. If you both want to save your marriage, there are many resources available that can help, ranging from books to online resources to professional counseling and more.



The Impact of Religious Observance on Divorce

Many people shape their perceptions of divorce around religious beliefs. To some, divorce may seem like a breach of one’s vows before God. To others, divorce may represent a breach of a personal commitment made to oneself and one’s partner. To others, divorce may simply be viewed as an unavoidable, necessary means of escaping unhappiness.

How one’s feelings and values about divorce are shaped are dependent upon numerous things, including family values that the individual was exposed to growing up, community and societal values, and even things like social media. For those who are religious, the impact of religious observance can also have a profound effect on a person’s feelings about divorce.

How Religious Observance Impacts Divorce

Those who are religious may have very strong feelings about divorce, with some religions strongly discouraging divorce, and other religions embracing divorce when it is the best thing for both parties involved.

There have been a number of studies conducted on how religion and religious beliefs affect divorce decisions. In one study conducted by the National Divorce Decision-Making Project and the Institute for Family Studies, researchers found that about half of participants reported that religion, their relationship with God, or other aspects of spirituality were major factors in how they thought about their marriage. The researches also explored four major themes that emerged during the study:

  1. The belief that, because of religious beliefs, staying married was the moral thing to do;
  2. The dilemma of religious belief in that while religion might be a reason to stay married, participants simultaneously believed that God would want them to be happy (and therefore maybe divorce was better);
  3. The religious social network – the decision to divorce was often highly influenced by people’s religious social connections; and
  4. Religious practice – those who practiced religion were influenced by these practices in making a decision about whether or not to divorce. For example, “forgiveness” is a common religious practice, and provided grounding in favor of staying married after one spouse had wronged the other.

While this was just one study, the general ideas may be reflective of the majority of religious people who are contemplating divorce.

The Relationship Between Marriage, Religion, and Divorce

Interestingly, there is also research which indicates that religion/religious attendance is the single most important predictor of marital stability. In fact, when both partners in a marriage attend regular religious ceremonies, the couple is 2.4 times less likely to divorce than is a non-religious couple. Further, those who state that their religious beliefs are very important to them are nearly ¼ less likely to divorce than are those who state that religious beliefs are only somewhat important.

Reconciling Religion and Divorce

Divorce is a very difficult thing and a very sensitive topic. If you are thinking about divorce and your religious beliefs are in contradiction to your desire to separate, speaking with a spiritual/religious leader, as well as an LA divorce lawyer may prove helpful. Personal and marital counseling can also help you to make sense of your feelings and forge a clear path moving forward.



Common Complications with Divorce

Divorce rarely goes smoothly. Instead, any number of problems can crop up that might confuse you. At our office, we help divorcing clients keep their sanity by handling all their paperwork and advocating strongly on their behalf. As soon as you notice any of the problems below, give an LA divorce lawyer a call.

One of You Wants to Move with the Kids

Judges generally want to maintain the status quo at least until the divorce is finalized. But parents often have different ideas. One parent might want to leave to start a new job, move back home with family, or even start a new relationship. If he or she wants to take the children, too, then there is a definite problem.

An attorney can explain your options, whether you are the parent who wants to move with the children or the parent who is trying to block the move.

There is Only One Car

Some families only have one vehicle, which they use for all errands and for getting to and from work. During a divorce, one spouse often moves out of the home and might want to take the vehicle with them. You will need to either ask the judge to let you have the vehicle or come up with another creative solution. In Los Angeles, one parent could take public transportation, though this is rarely ideal.

You Have a Family Business Together

When spouses work together, a divorce is particularly disruptive. Now you might not even want to be in the same room as your husband or wife. What happens to the family business during this time? If you can’t get along, then your business could fail before a judge even issues the final divorce decree.

It is possible that both spouses co-own the business, but only one works in it. In that case, things could continue on as before, so long no one does anything to sabotage the business. If both spouses work together, then they might need to work in different locations and only communicate by email. Another option is to put the business up for immediate sale.

The Children Don’t Want to Live with You

Children get to have a say about who they want to live with, and the amount of weight a judge will give your child’s preference depends on the child’s maturity and age. The law does not require that judges do what the child wants, but a child’s preference is one factor.

As a practical matter, it can be very difficult to raise your children if they are dead set on not living with you, especially if they are teenagers. Sometimes, family therapy can help parents and children work through their anger and fear. In other situations, you might need to consider not seeking physical custody of your child.

You Want to Start Dating

You might want to jump back into the dating pool but are worried about how a judge will view your new relationship during divorce. This is a perfectly normal concern—and a smart one. Your children might resent that you are dating, which could affect whether you get child custody. Also, if you spend money on your new paramour, you might get less property in the divorce settlement. You should discuss your concerns with an attorney.



How to Handle Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence, unfortunately, is fairly common, and it can take many forms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 25% of women and 14% of men can suffer severe physical domestic violence in their lifetime. If your spouse has become physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive, you should follow the steps below to protect yourself and your family.

Document the Domestic Abuse

You really want to avoid a “he said, she said” situation where allegations of abuse have no support other than what you allege. Instead, you want as much evidence as possible that abuse has occurred. To that end, try to collect the following (we know the evidence may be difficult to collect, but):

  • Take pictures of any injuries you suffered. Take vivid color photographs that show bruises, bite marks, slap marks, etc.
  • Write down the day and time each abusive incident occurred and summarize what happened.
  • Identify any witnesses to the abuse. They can provide testimony as to what they saw.

If necessary, call the police. A police report will come in handy at establishing when the violent incident occurred.

Develop a Safety Plan

In the immediate aftermath of an abusive incident, you probably are not thinking clearly. Nevertheless, you need to get to someplace safe. Many people develop a safety plan, which can include the following:

  • Identify who you can call or where you can go after an abusive incident.
  • Identify how you will get out of the house in the event of a physical attack.
  • Collect important information and documents in one place. These documents include copies of birth certificates, social security numbers, and bank information.
  • Either save sufficient cash or identify how you will get immediate access to cash if you leave the home.

There is a misconception that men don’t need a safety plan because their partners are unlikely to physically harm them. Nothing could be further from the truth. A woman can attack a man with a gun or knife, or she could hurt the couple’s children out of anger. With a safety plan in place, you can quickly get away from a violent spouse to somewhere safe.

Seek a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

A restraining order is a court order prohibiting the abuser from coming near you and doing certain things. For example, you can get an order for your abuser to move out of the house and to let you use the vehicle, if necessary. The abuser will also need to turn over his gun to the police.

You can get a domestic violence restraining order against someone you have a close relationship with, such as a current or former spouse, someone you live with, or someone you used to date.  You can also seek a restraining order for a child if he or she is being abused.

An LA divorce lawyer can help you get the restraining order by filing paperwork with the court, or you can go to the court and ask the family law facilitator or self-help center to help. A judge can issue an immediate, temporary order, but the abuser has a chance to come into court and argue why a permanent order is unnecessary.

If your abuser violates the restraining order, call the police.

Evan Braunstein
Phone: (424) 500-2983
Fax: (310) 492-4025

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