Divorce

Carlsbad Divorce Law Attorneys

Divorce law is complex and requires the help of experienced legal counsel. The end of a marriage is an emotionally charged time that necessitates the help of an attorney who has experienced what you are currently experiencing.

Michael Fischer and Craig Van Thiel, partners at Fischer & Van Thiel, L.L.P., combine experience with compassion for residents of Carlsbad and military personnel serving on area bases. They bring together a track record of success with respect and credibility from peers and the courts. The firm of Fischer & Van Thiel provides individualized and dedicated legal advocacy in determining the best outcome for their clients seeking divorce, legal separation or annulment.

Our attorneys focus on negotiating agreements short of formal mediation or trials. However, if the mediation table or courtroom is the preferred vehicle for satisfactory results, we will move forward with your best interests and those of your children in mind.

Carlsbad Divorce And Property Division Attorneys

Regardless of the venue necessary to resolve your divorce, we are not interested in airing any “dirty laundry” involving you or your spouse. California is a no-fault state, meaning that the circumstances that led you to divorce court are not necessarily legally relevant. The attorneys at Fischer & Van Thiel are there to assist you in differentiating the facts that are important to you and the facts that are legally relevant to the issues of your case such as:

Full financial disclosure is required in determining support and equitable division of property. Self-employed spouses present particular challenges in determining accurate income levels. Penalties exist for husbands and wives who do not disclose all of their income or assets. A thorough, detail-driven approach by a seasoned divorce lawyer is important to secure a fair agreement based on all the facts.

For more information on the divorce, military divorce or dissolution process or to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Carlsbad divorce law attorney, please contact us by filling out our online intake form or calling us at 760-722-7669.

Q & A with Fischer & Van Thiel

Do I need an attorney for my divorce?

Technically, anything an attorney does, you can do yourself. However, with an attorney you have someone who has done it over and over again, is imputed with the knowledge of knowing what the statutes say, has knowledge of the process and how to get it done, knows what the court is looking for, knows how likely a court is going to rule in that matter. I often tell people that I had a military couple come in and all they have is their car and wanted to know if they really needed an attorney. I told them that if they were trying to save money, great, and if they wanted to research the process and forms they could likely do it themselves. If they got it wrong all they would lose is some money.

However, in a case where child custody is involved, I tell them that anyone trying to do a custody issue without an attorney is foolish. The ramifications are too extreme. You cannot replace a bad custody order with money. You can earn more money but you cannot replace your time and relationship with your child. The time you lose with your children is lost forever and you cannot get it back. Usually, custody orders are not just simple matters that you can go into court and say that you made a mistake and want it changed. You have to live with the bad decision for a while. Then you have to petition the court and show why it was a bad call and why it has not worked out, and then ask for a modification. After that amount of time, there is a new status quo established. Now you have to beat the status quo and prove to court that it is in the child’s best interest to make that change.

There is also the issue of divorce where there is a large amount of assets or debts. In both cases it is oftentimes incredibly important to have an attorney to help determine how much of the assets belong to each party, how much of the debt belongs to each party, are there any offsets or equalization payments due, what are the values particularly in the cases where one party is 1099 or a self-employed individual. What is their true income? What expenses are they writing off that should be added back in for the purposes of support or property division? The larger the estate, or in the case of a negative asset the more debt there is, the more important it becomes to have somebody who is knowledgeable with the law and the laws regarding property division.

How long will it take for the divorce to become finalized?

In the purest sense, the divorce can be finalized in a very short period of time, three or four weeks. However, you will not be able to remarry until six months from the date the party was served documents. California has what can be referred to as a “cooling off period” in which we allow the parties to make sure their decision is really what they want, and the opportunity to reconsider their decisions. The papers could be filled out, signed and even executed by a judge prior to the six months, but the final judgment will have an effective date six months from the date of service. Generally, in my experience dealing with divorces, by the time we go through the normal process and the normal litigation, the average is nine months to a year. With more complicated issues it can be a little longer. When I say complicated issues we are usually referring to custody battles if we cannot come to an agreement, extensive property division, or self-employment where we have to determine income.

What is a marital settlement agreement in a divorce?

A marital settlement agreement in divorce usually refers to a document that incorporates or memorializes all of the agreements of the parties regarding custody, visitation, property, support issues, and a lot of what we call “boilerplate language” in it that also takes care of waivers, disclosures, and other requirements of the law. Usually, the MSA (marital settlement agreement) is negotiated by the attorneys with their clients included. It is then signed off and incorporated or attached to a judgment cover page and submitted to the court with other documents. When the judge signs it, it becomes the agreement of the parties and binding in law subject to criminal or civil penalties if you don’t abide by it.

How much does it cost to file for divorce?

The current filing fee paid to the county is $435.00. There, generally, will also be a fee paid to a person to “serve” the documents. In our office the fee currently is $75.00. That can vary between $75.00 to $200.00 depending on who is serving it and where they have to serve. If we cannot find the other party, if they are out of state, or unknown whereabouts, we would have to do a service by publication. There would then be the additional cost of the publication itself depending on what paper it is published. This can vary from a few hundred dollars up to $800.00 or $900.00.

Can a spouse successfully prevent a court from granting a divorce?

The answer is no. California is a “no fault” state. The State legislature has decided that they do not want to compel people who do not want to be together to remain married. Further, we do not want people airing their dirty laundry in court because court is public record, and we certainly do not want our children to come back and read about our grievances years later. If one party says they do want to stay married and the other party says “no”, the “no” prevails and ultimately the dissolution will be granted. A party who does not want a divorce can choose not to participate, but the party wanting the divorce will proceed by what we call “default” and the divorce will be obtained anyhow.

What is a “no fault” divorce?

Briefly, what a “no fault” divorce means is that we do not want to have to show bad actions, ill will, or wrongdoing. If a person wants a divorce they get it. We do not want to air dirty laundry in the court system where it becomes public record. A person’s actions of bad behavior are, as to the divorce itself, irrelevant. They do, possibly, have an importance when it comes time to talk about spousal support or some sort of financial reimbursement. “No fault” divorce itself means you do not have to prove fault by the other party in order to get your divorce. You just have to want it.