Married couples in the gay community face the same big life changes as do others, such as deciding to get divorced. At the outset, the concept can feel overwhelming. Conferring with an experienced attorney can help and add insights into the process so you can gain a deeper understanding of what to expect, how the process works, and the steps needed to be taken.
Before meeting with your attorney put together a list of questions to ask. Do you have children, a shared home or shared assets? Think of what is of most importance to you and craft your questions accordingly. As an LGBTQ couple in California, or for that matter for any couple, you will need to follow specific legal parameters pertaining to establishing child custody and dividing assets. Although every case is different, here are some commonly asked questions.
Ask These Questions
Do I need an attorney to get divorced? Not always. In some cases, it is possible to navigate a divorce without an attorney – for instance if you do not have financial entanglements, are not co-parenting a child or have a short term marriage. If you and your spouse feel you can amicably settle your issues, then a flat fee divorce or similar option might work. A flat fee divorce provides guidance through the divorce process but will keep your costs down considerably compared to an attorney led divorce.
However, if you suspect your spouse will be uncooperative, you have considerable assets and/or expect to have issues regarding child custody and visitation, retaining legal counsel is highly recommended. An attorney can help put together a plan to determine what is important and how the law applies to your specific situation.
What documentation will I need? Should you decide to hire an attorney or do a flat fee divorce, your team will handle the bulk of the legal paperwork. However, you will be required to produce certain financial and personal documents. Think of it as your attorney or team is the chef and you are the sous chef. Nothing can get done without the participation of both. Some examples of required documentation are an LGBTQ prenuptial or postnuptial agreement (if you have either), financial documents relating to property and assets, monthly income statements and a proposed parenting plan. Divorce can be a lengthy process; it helps to be organized and prepared when it comes to your responsibilities. Your team should provide you with a list of documents to gather in preparation of your divorce.
What should I expect in the divorce process? The state of California requires a six-month waiting period before you can be legally divorced. With that said, the timeframe for divorce depends on your specific plan. Amicable couples working together might be able to divorce in 6 months where more complex legal cases can take up to 2 years. Your attorney will be able to provide a general time frame as well as what to expect each step of the way. Keep in mind that the longer the divorce takes the more expensive it typically will be. When making decisions about how to approach your divorce be sure to ask yourself and your attorney if the cost is worth what is to be gained.
Moving Forward with Confidence
Getting divorced will change your life, but knowing what to expect will help you to face it with confidence. The Buncher Family Law Firm is made up of Orange County Family Lawyers who have experience representing the diversity in California, with an emphasis on individualized client service. Additionally, they have a division called Green Giraffe Legal that assists couples with flat fee divorce options and mediation for those that need little to no attorney assistance. We are always happy to answer questions and help set your fears aside. Knowledge is power and we provide blog posts which address common concerns such as how to approach telling mutual friends about your divorce. You are welcome to check out our blog posts and/or call our office for a consultation.