Orange County Divorce Lawyer

Ending a marriage is already daunting, but the additional stress of facing the legal system can make it nearly overwhelming. Filing for and completing a divorce can be tricky, even under ideal circumstances. There are many legal processes that the couple must follow and paperwork to complete correctly before finalizing the divorce. Navigating divorce court processes can be a challenge without an Orange County divorce lawyer to provide legal advice and interpret the laws.

Knowing how to hire a divorce attorney will ensure you have the support you need, and having the support and guidance of an experienced Orange County divorce attorney can provide support and peace of mind as you go through the divorce proceedings. Trust the professional team at the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin, APC, to guide you through your divorce and ensure that you receive compassionate and sensitive legal services.

orange county divorce attorney

Grounds for Divorce in Orange County

California offers a no-fault divorce. No-fault means that either spouse can file the initial paperwork to dissolve the marriage without requiring proof of infidelity or other substantial reasons to petition divorce. The spouses are not required to agree on whether they want their marriage to end or not. There are two grounds or legally accepted reasons to seek a divorce: irreconcilable differences and permanent incapacity.

Irreconcilable differences apply when something causes permanent damage to the relationship. At least one spouse believes there is no hope of repairing the relationship, so they choose to end the marriage. Suppose you are citing irreconcilable differences as your reason for divorce. In that case, you do not have to provide specific details, nor do you have to provide proof of wrongdoing by the other spouse.

Permanent incapacity is rare but still a legally accepted reason for divorce. If you cite permanent incapacity as your grounds for divorce, you claim that your spouse does not have the mental or legal capacity to make significant decisions. Claiming permanent incapacity as grounds for divorce requires proof, often in the form of documentation from a medical professional.

Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce

While there are two legally accepted grounds for divorce in Orange County, CA, two methods are available to complete the divorce proceedings. Once one of the spouses makes the initial filing, you can proceed with the divorce as contested or uncontested.

An uncontested divorce is a simpler process and often incurs less cost. When a divorce is uncontested, both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce from the beginning. There is no major conflict surrounding spousal support, child support, or any other aspects of the divorce, so there is no reason for a judge to be involved. Proceeding with an uncontested divorce is relatively straightforward, takes significantly less time, and can save both parties a substantial amount of money. Unfortunately, an uncontested divorce is not always possible.

If the divorcing spouses cannot agree, their divorce will proceed as contested. In a contested divorce, there will need to be a trial overseen by a judge. During a contested divorce, both parties will gather and present the appropriate information, and the court will call witnesses to testify. Once the trial is complete, a judge will make final determinations on all the issues based on the evidence presented.


In some cases, finalizing a divorce requires mediation either because the spouses cannot agree on certain terms or because they wish to keep the process as simple and civil as possible. During the mediation, a neutral third party will work with the spouses to help them finalize the terms of their divorce. This process allows the former couple to approach their divorce calmly and civilly, presenting all the facts in detail and ensuring that the final decisions benefit all involved parties. An experienced Orange County divorce attorney can help you navigate the mediation process successfully.

The Process of Divorce in California

Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, divorcing couples must follow four primary steps in California.

  1. File the petition for divorce. One spouse must file the correct paperwork stating their desire to end the marriage. Once they file the paperwork, they must also notify the other spouse that the divorce has started. Then, a neutral third party must serve the divorce petition papers to the respondent either in person or through the mail.
  2. Disclosure of financial information. Divorcing couples must interchange disclosures about their financial circumstances, such as income and debts. The petitioner can include this information in the initial papers or no later than 60 days after the petition.
  3. Making significant decisions. This step may be the most difficult, depending on the nature of the divorce. If the divorce is uncontested, the spouses must reach final terms on things such as spousal and child support. If the divorce proceeds as contested, they must gather evidence, information, and witnesses to present to the judge so they can make the final determination.
  4. Finalizing the dissolution of marriage. When the mandatory waiting period passes and both parties have agreed on all the final decisions, the couple will file the necessary paperwork to finalize the divorce. The required paperwork may vary depending on the circumstances, but once they file it, the divorce will be complete, and the couple will no longer be legally married.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Orange County?

There are a few steps involved in the process of divorce in Orange County, and a divorce attorney can almost always help facilitate the process, but the average time from start to finish is around 15 months. This does not include residency requirements that are a prerequisite for filing for divorce in California. Factors that affect the timeline for an Orange County divorce are detailed below.

Residency Requirements

By California law, you cannot get divorced in California unless one party of the marriage has been a resident of California for at least six months. Furthermore, one party has to be a resident of the county in which the divorce is filed for at least three months.

Therefore, to file for divorce in Orange County, one of the divorcing parties, which is most often the petitioner if the other party lives out of state or out of the county, must have been living in Orange County for three months prior to filing and for six months in California prior to filing.

Once the residency requirements have been met, the petitioner may file a petition for divorce with the Orange County Court. Most of the remainder of divorce proceedings are subject to various outside forces, such as the court docket, the respondent’s willingness to cooperate, whether or not mediation is an option, and whether or not a trial will ensue.

Type of Divorce

The type of divorce can affect the timeframe of divorce finalization because some types of divorce require more time than others. For instance, an uncontested divorce, in which both parties agree on everything and there are no outstanding issues or disputes, is the fastest route to divorce.

Even in uncontested divorces, though, things can impede the progress of the case. For instance, in Orange County, especially, the courts get backed up during certain times, and it may take longer for a judge to sign off on your case.

On the other hand, a divorce case that requires a trial and has multiple disputes to address, which is referred to as a contested divorce, can drag on for much longer. Matters such as property division, spousal support, and child custody can hinder the completion of the case. If the couple feels they can work out their disagreements in mediation, it can be a more timely (and less expensive) alternative to litigation and a courtroom trial.

Mandatory Wait Period

Orange County follows state law that requires all divorcing couples to endure a six-month wait period between filing and finalization. Therefore, the shortest divorce in Orange County is six months and one day. This, though, is not likely, as it takes a bit more time for the courts to process everything. This could take as few as a couple of weeks, but as mentioned above, there are unavoidable factors that sometimes play a role in case progression.

How Long Will a Divorce Case Stay Open?

Orange County will close an open divorce case after five years. If there is no activity or progress made in the case, they will eventually dismiss the case, and the petitioner will need to file again if they wish to reinitiate divorce proceedings.

Common Matters Settled in Divorce

While every divorce is as unique as the family going through it, with each case presenting a new set of circumstances and disputes, the matters of divorce are alike across the board. Below are the main areas a family law attorney can offer legal advice on.

Child Custody

If the divorcing couple share children under the age of 18, the divorce decree will explain the custody agreement, including which parent will have physical custody, if both parents will share custody, and who will have the responsibility of legal custody. It also includes a schedule for parenting time that outlines when the children will spend time with each parent. These arrangements often impact other areas as well, such as child support.

Spousal Support and Child Support

These are two things that the spouses or the court must decide during the divorce proceedings. The circumstances of the marriage, and factors such as each spouse’s income or a history of abuse, will play a key role in settling these issues. Any type of prenuptial agreement in place can also have a significant impact on any spousal support. Regarding child support and custody, it is crucial to focus on the best interests of the child or children as the most critical deciding factor.

Also called alimony, spousal support is payment from the higher-earning spouse to the other spouse for support. Alimony is calculated after child support (if applicable) and at the rate of up to 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s monthly net income. In the past, in an opposite-sex marriage, the husband was the higher-earning spouse and often ordered to pay alimony, but it’s not unheard of nowadays for the wife to be the breadwinner in the marriage and ordered to pay spousal support to their ex-husband.

Property Division

California is a community property state, which means each spouse is entitled to 50% of the marital assets and will be responsible for 50% of the marital debts in the event of a divorce. Property acquired and debts incurred during a marriage are considered to be owned or owed by both parties equally.

Marital property does not include assets acquired before the marriage. Trusts established before the marriage are also excluded.

High-Net-Worth Divorce

Couples with marital assets totaling $1 million or more are considered high-net-worth couples. The significant amount of assets makes these divorce cases more complicated than others. Discovery of assets is sometimes more difficult, and financial matters such as property division, spousal support, and child support can be complex.

The more assets a couple has, the more assets there are to divide. An experienced high-net-worth family lawyer can make the process easier.

Attorney Hollie Lemkin is a certified family law specialist and has nearly 25 years of experience serving Orange County’s family law needs. She offers top-notch legal services involving the areas noted above, as well as others not mentioned here. With the experience and knowledge Hollie Lemkin has backing her, you can’t afford to not have her in your corner.

Costs Associated with Divorce in California

The costs incurred during a divorce in California will differ. The circumstances, whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce, and which legal services are required will all impact the overall costs. There is an initial filing fee of $435 when the spouse petitions or files a response to the divorce petition. The amount of assistance required of your Orange County family lawyer may also include additional costs.

Divorce Lawyer in Orange County, CA

Many families automatically associate divorce with pain, stress and trauma. In our experience, when divorce is treated thoughtfully and correctly, it doesn’t have to involve any of these things. At the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin, we are passionate about helping families go through the transition of divorce with as little stress as possible. We can help you work through the often-sticky issue of custody, property division and support, striving at all times to protect the interests of the children while ensuring you receive what you need to start a potentially exciting new chapter in life.

A Client-Focused Divorce Attorney in Orange County, CA

Who Puts Clients First Many families in Orange County automatically associate divorce with pain, stress and trauma. In our experience, when divorce is treated thoughtfully and correctly, it doesn’t have to involve any of these things. At the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin, we are passionate about helping families go through the transition of divorce with as little stress as possible.

Our Orange County divorce attorney can help you work through the often-sticky issue of custody, property division and support, striving at all times to protect the interests of the children while ensuring you receive what you need to start a potentially exciting new chapter in life. Contact our experienced Orange County divorce attorney for a free consultation.

FAQs About Orange County, CA Divorce Law

Do you need a lawyer for a divorce in Orange County, CA?

To complete a divorce in Orange County, California, you do not require the services of a lawyer. Completing and filing the necessary paperwork is all that is needed. You can find all the forms online, through your local courthouse, or at the public library. While the assistance of an Orange County family attorney is not required to complete a divorce in California, it can make the process much easier. An experienced family law attorney can provide all the necessary information and compassionately walk you through the legal proceedings in this emotionally challenging situation.

How much does a divorce cost Orange County, with and without a lawyer?

If you choose not to work with an attorney, you are responsible for paying the fees associated with filing the correct paperwork for your divorce. These fees can vary, but in 2022, they are approximately $435 per filing. If you work with a lawyer, you will be responsible for paying all legal fees and the price of your lawyer’s services. These costs will usually rely on an hourly rate which will add up to the total cost depending on the complexity of your case.

What is the wife entitled to in a divorce in Orange County?

There is not a single set amount that a wife is entitled to in a divorce. Several factors, such as how long the couple has been married and their income levels, will be considered for any decisions regarding spousal support. In some cases, the wife may receive up to half of the marital assets and forty percent of the spouse’s income to help cover spousal support and child support, where necessary. A prenuptial agreement can help avoid this process.

How long will it take to finalize a divorce in California?

The state of California has a mandatory waiting period of six months once the initial paperwork for your divorce has been filed. This means that your divorce will take at least six months to finalize, regardless of circumstances. The timeline could extend if the circumstances make the process more difficult. For example, if you’re in a contested divorce, you will need to complete several steps before finalizing the dissolution of your marriage.

Divorce can be a long, emotional, and difficult process, even under the best circumstances. It requires looking at every part of your life and deciding what needs to change. If you are unfamiliar with the legal system, then the dissolution of your marriage could be much more difficult and overwhelming. Having a well-versed and compassionate legal team backing you and giving you the support and advice you need to progress and finalize your divorce can make the experience so much easier.

Talk to Our Orange County Divorce Lawyers Today

A seasoned family law firm can help you navigate your dissolution of marriage with skill. They can give you resources, guidance, and peace of mind as you complete the legal proceedings. Whether you need someone’s guidance through the filing and waiting period or a professional to negotiate or fight for you in court, the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin, APC, is the team to reach out to. Contact us today to get started.

About Lemkin Law

Hollie Lemkin is the daughter, granddaughter, sister, and aunt to lawyers. She knows that Family Law is about more than winning. It is about inflicting the least amount of collateral damage on your children and putting your family in the most advisable possible position moving forward. A passionate trial lawyer, she will never back down from a fight.

She is exactly the attorney you want in your corner.

Call today to speak with Hollie A. Lemkin to discuss your questions & issues!


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