Family Law FAQs

Westlake Village Divorce Attorney Provides Information You Need

Get quality legal counsel from a family law attorney in Westlake Village right away if you are facing divorce. Any family law matter, particularly divorce, can leave you confused and unsure of the right action to take unless you have the counsel of an experienced lawyer who is dedicated to helping you obtain the best possible results. Richard Ross Associates can provide the compassionate and specialized legal representation you need, so call us for a case evaluation today.

Common Family Law & Divorce Questions


What do I need to do and know before going through a divorce or legal separation?

Before you get a divorce, photocopy all relevant financial documents that you can obtain and store them off-site with a trusted friend or relative. Do not store them in the trunk of your car where they can easily be found and removed by your spouse.

There may be both personal and strategic reasons not to tip off your spouse that documents are being reviewed for a possible dissolution proceeding. Make copies of documents that you find in the residence and return the original documents to their original location as soon as possible so that your spouse won't notice that they are missing. It is often advisable to make the photocopies when you are sure your spouse is away for an extended time, such as during a workday.

It is advisable to gather as many relevant financial documents as possible while they are still available and before they have been removed or destroyed by your spouse. This will significantly reduce the cost of divorce litigation if the documents do not have to be recovered later. It will also permit us to get a true picture of all community assets and debts as soon as possible.


What kinds of financial documents do I need to gather for a lawyer to review?
At a minimum, try to photocopy financial documents generated within the past three years, including all bank statements, cancelled checks, tax returns and financial statements, W-2s, K-1s, loan applications, credit card statements, pay stubs, and pension statements. You also need copies of stock option statements, stock certificates, and brokerage statements; deeds to real property and property appraisals; closing statements and loan documents; automobile, life and health insurance policies; and any other financial documents that you think could be relevant to any financial issues in your case.

You should make a preliminary list of your monthly income and expenses. Also, take photographs of the contents of your residence as soon as possible in the event your spouse removes items at a later time. On a sheet of paper , itemize the household items by room.


What should I do if my spouse serves me with court papers?
If your spouse has served you with court papers, write down the date that you were served with the court papers. Immediately determine the date of any upcoming court hearings and contact a legal professional as soon as possible. Bring all of the papers that you were served with to the meeting.

If you file for court orders, you will not be able to get any orders for child support or spousal support until the first order to show cause hearing, which will not take place until about a month after you file you petition for dissolution or legal separation. As a general rule, you cannot get financial orders at an ex parte or emergency hearing; therefore, make sure that you consider and make provisions for supporting yourself for at least a month. Otherwise, if your spouse cuts you off from financial resources, which often happens, you may be in a very difficult and vulnerable position.


Should I agree to a temporary parenting plan?
This is very important: If you have separated from your spouse before one of you has filed for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, avoid agreeing to and placing into effect a temporary parenting plan arrangement regarding the children unless you will be able to live with this arrangement after the divorce papers have been filed. Once you begin a parenting plan that seems to be working, it becomes the "status quo." It is very difficult to convince a mediator or judge to change the status quo, especially if it is working or appears to be working and is not detrimental to the minor children.


How long must I live in California before I can file for divorce?
To file an action for divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, a person must have resided in the state of California for six months and in the county where the action is filed for three months prior to filing the petition in court. This is true of either the petitioner or the respondent - either person can meet the test and allow a filing. If your spouse meets the residency requirement, you can file even if you do not meet it yourself.


Can I be thrown out of my own residence?
The court can and usually will order you to move out of your residence if your spouse convinces the court that you have been violent toward your spouse or threatened your spouse. You could be given ex-parte notice to be in court the next day because your spouse is seeking an order to make you move out and stay out. You can be ordered to leave immediately and not return even if your spouse is not on the property title or lease agreement! Once you are ordered to leave, it is not likely that you will be allowed to return.


Can a joint tax return still be filed after a divorce?
If you have not received a judgment dissolving your marriage before the end of the year, you may file an individual tax return under the status of "married, filing separately" or a joint tax return with your spouse. You should consult your accountant as to the advantages of these options. You may obtain special information booklets regarding tax information for divorce or separated individuals from your local IRS office or read the IRS booklet online.

Divorce Lawyer Serving Westlake Village & Thousand Oaks

Contact a Westlake Village family law attorney from Richard Ross Associates right away to get personalized answers to any of your questions, as well as representation tailored for your specific legal issue. We have handled countless family law cases over the years and are prepared to fight vigorously for the results you deserve.