San Diego Family Law, Divorce & Child Custody Attorneys

To help you begin the divorce process, we have addressed the questions most frequently asked by our clients. If you have other questions, our complimentary 30-minute introduction will help you learn about the divorce process and how you can transition to the next chapter of your life.

You have a choice for how you want to approach your divorce. You can choose to retain an attorney to represent you in Court, you can choose private Mediation or you can represent yourself. All approaches will address key issues including child custody , child support, spousal support, and division of property.  We offer a complimentary 30-minute introduction to help you start the process and move on to the next chapter of your life.

To prepare for the divorce process it is helpful to have a sense of what is important to you as you envision your post-divorce life. Common areas to think about include whether to remain in your home, your income and your expenses, how to divide your assets and debts, support and child sharing. To assist you in making knowledgeable choices about your future, you will need to review the documents below and gather the necessary information to complete the forms. You are required to prepare these forms to complete the divorce process in California.

When you go to court, you are represented by an attorney who presents your case to a judge in a public setting. Documents considered by the judge are maintained in a publically accessible court file and the scheduling of hearings is determined by the court’s busy calendar. Traditional litigation is the most costly way to divorce – both emotionally and financially. An alternative approach is Mediation where the parties work together in a private confidential setting with a neutral mediator who helps them craft a customized, mutually negotiated Settlement Agreement – the legal document that sets forth your agreements relating to all issues including child sharing, child support, spousal support, and division of property. In Mediation, the parties control the timing of each session, the issues to be addressed, whether to include attorneys or outside experts in the process, and the terms of the settlement. Also, because the two parties agree to work cooperatively to resolve their differences, Mediation is far less costly, both emotionally and financially, than litigation. For more information about Mediation, please see Practice Areas.
In a settlement conference, an attorney assists the parties by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the case and attempting to negotiate a settlement of the dispute, but without making any decisions or orders in the case. Settlement conferences may be either mandatory (court-ordered) or voluntary. Mandatory settlement conferences are often held close to the date a case is set for trial.
There are two costs involved in the divorce process; court filing fees and mediation/attorneys fees. The court assesses a $435 filing fee for each party. Additionally, there may be other filing fees for documents filed with the court during the divorce process. Attorneys fees that you will incur to resolve your Family Law matter vary widely based on a number of factors including your approach to the divorce process, your preparation, schedule, willingness to reach agreement, and complexity of your family and financial situation. Mediation can be the most cost effective approach to divorce as you have more control over the process and you can minimize the costs if both parties reach agreement within a reasonable period of time.

California is a community property state. Generally, if you acquire property or incur a debt during the marriage it is characterized as community property and the community property assets and debts are divided equally. Separate property is the property that a party brings into the marriage that still exists or is received during the marriage by inheritance or gift. Separate property is usually awarded to the holder of the separate property. In the context of Mediation or Collaborative Divorce, the parties can reach a creative settlement to meet the needs of the family. In some cases that includes agreeing that property, normally considered to be separate property, be treated as community and that community property be unequally divided.

It is important to consider more than just the bottom line value of an item when dividing your assets and debts. For example, there may be tax consequences which may impact how to best divide your assets and debts. If you reach an agreement in Mediation or through the Collaborative Divorce process it becomes the basis of a legally binding court order.

Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure

Expense Work Sheet

Schedule of Assets

E Declaration

Superior Court Website
The Superior Court website is a great resource for information. You can use the site to look at tentative rulings, court forms, daily calendars. It also has additional information on specific courts like family law court, juvenile court, traffic court, and more.
San Diego Superior Court
Los Angeles Superior Court
Orange County Superior Court
Riverside Superior Court

San Diego County Sheriff’s Website
The San Diego County Sheriff’s office website can be used to stay informed of public safety issues throughout San Diego County. There are also a number of public resources available through their site that may be helpful if you need to look up information regarding restraining orders, warrants, and other victims’ service needs.

​San Diego County Department of Child Support Services
You can use the San Diego County Department of Child Support Services website to obtain information regarding paying child support payments, access all necessary forms for the process, and find the answers to any child support related questions.

Family Court Services (FCS) – Parent Orientation

FCS provides a weekly Parent Orientation meeting to provide general information regarding child custody and Family Court matters. This meeting is facilitated by an FCS Counselor. The orientation lasts about 1 hour.,1524469&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

Kid’s Turn San Diego
Kid’s Turn is a program that works with the family to achieve a child centered and healthy divorce. It is a low cost solution for families experiencing the pain of divorce or separation. It offers workshops to assist families through a healthy transition.

At the Law Office of Alexandra McIntosh we spend a great deal of time attempting to undo what a client has done by trying to represent himself or herself. This always costs more than if the client had come to us in the first place. Without fail, the client will remark that had they only known, they would never have attempted to represent themselves. 

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