L.A. Divorce Attorneys

Steve Fernandez and Mark Karney are both Certified Family Law Specialists* with over 50 years of combined experience.

Request A Free Consultation

Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer

Divorce Attorneys Los AngelesIf you are considering a divorce, speak with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer at Fernandez & Karney. We have successfully handled thousands of family law cases and will put this experience to work for you.

Our Los Angeles Divorce Attorneys Are Certified Family Law Specialists with over 50 Years Experience

Our founding partners Steven Fernandez and Mark Karney are Certified Family Law Specialists with over 50 years of combined experience handling every aspect of a divorce. This includes child custody, property division, and spousal support matters. Additionally, we have a team of attorneys and paralegals committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcome. If you have specific questions, call us today to discuss your case. We offer a free consultation for your convenience.

California Divorce Overview

California Family Code § 2300 defines divorce, or dissolution of marriage, as a judge’s order that effectively “restore[s] the parties to the state of unmarried persons.” Declared single again, divorcees face far-reaching, life-altering consequences and changes in their rights and duties.

The effect of divorce on property rights has been the fodder of tabloids in many celebrity cases. Unsurprisingly, a Wikipedia page lists the most expensive divorces. Its impact on parenting rights publicized in the context of bitter custody battles, divorce has earned the reputation of being a thoroughly traumatizing experience.

Residency Requirements for Divorce in California

Under California Family Code § 2320, for a judge to grant a divorce in California, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for six months, and of the county where filing for at least three months.

An exception to this rule is permitted in the case of nullity proceedings, legal separation, or same-sex marriage.

For same-sex marriages, the following circumstances must apply:

  • The parties entered into such formal relationship in California, or
  • The current state of residency refuses to dissolve the union.

Speak with an attorney at Fernandez & Karney if you have questions regarding California’s residency requirement.

The Divorce Waiting Period

In California, no divorce is final unless at least six months have passed since the divorce petition and summons have been served on the non-filing spouse, or respondent. If the respondent appears in court before such service, the six-months countdown may start from this first appearance (California Family Code § 2339).

No-Fault Divorce

California is a no-fault divorce state. As such, proof of misconduct, such as infidelity, has no bearing on the judge’s decision to grant the divorce. However, proof of misconduct may well be relevant to other decisions such as the calculation of spousal support. “No-fault” simply means the court will not assign blame for the disintegration of the marriage.

A claim by one spouse that the marriage or domestic partnership is defunct will suffice as a basis for the dissolution. The phrase “irreconcilable differences” stands for this idea. Additionally, the courts also allow for divorce or legal separation, if one of the spouses permanently lacks legal capacity.

Decisions Before The Court: The Scope Of Divorce Proceedings

While sitting in divorce proceedings, California courts can decide:

  • Who gets the custody of the children,
  • What the amount of child support or spousal support will be, and
  • How to divide the property.

Likewise, the courts can issue a judgment regarding property rights and child custody with respect to legal separation, without dissolving the marriage. We can assist you with any family law related aspect of a divorce including:

Because a divorce can encompass so many different issues, it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney with a proven track record on your side.

Unmarried Partners and Same-sex Couples Can Also Seek a Divorce in California

Rights of same-sex couples have a turbulent history in California, but the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges found that not permitting gays and lesbians to marry was an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Since 2003, registered domestic partners also share the same rights and obligations as married couples in California, including the right to terminate such partnership.

Dissolving A Marriage Or A Domestic Partnership

The law foresees three different ways to end or alter the rights and responsibilities that go along with marriage, including same-sex marriage, or a domestic partnership:

1. Annulment
2. Dissolution of marriage (divorce)
3. Legal separation

In some cases, dissolution can be accomplished by an accelerated, summary procedure.

Alternatives to Divorce

Under certain circumstances, a divorce may not be your best option. Two alternatives are annulment and legal separation.

Annulment is only appropriate when there are doubts about the validity of the marriage. The basis of annulment include:

  • Fraud,
  • One spouse being under the age of legal consent, or
  • Use of force to compel the marriage.

Someone might choose legal separation when the divorce residency requirement has not been met, to keep certain benefits, or for religious reasons. Generally, California courts cannot approve legal separation without the consent of both parties. The spouses can later convert the legal separation into a divorce; in such cases, the California residency requirement may not apply.

Types of Divorce Matters We Handle

High Net Worth Divorce

High-Net Worth DivorceMoney makes divorce complicated. When you and your spouse have high net worth assets, it can be difficult to figure out how property should be divided between the two of you. There may be arguments about whether certain high-value assets should be classified as separate or community property. It can be difficult to put a specific value on business interests and intellectual property rights.

It’s crucial to work with a Los Angeles divorce attorney who has extensive experience handling high net worth cases. At Fernandez & Karney, our attorneys have developed important relationships with some of the most reputable appraisers, forensic accountants, and financial experts in the Los Angeles area. As your attorneys, we will make sure that your financial interests are protected throughout your divorce. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.


Contested Divorce

Contested DivorceWhen you get divorced you and your spouse have to agree on the terms of your slip. This includes things like child custody arrangements, property division, and spousal and child support requirements. When you can’t agree on one or more of these issues, you’ll have what is known as a contested divorce.

Just because your divorce is contested doesn’t mean that you’ll have to go to court to settle your issues. It’s important to try to come to an agreement on your own with a little outside assistance. Processes such as mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce can help you find mutually-agreeable resolutions to any disputes you may have. Our Los Angeles contested divorce attorneys are skilled negotiators and know how to navigate emotionally-tense family law matters. Call us today to find out how we can help you resolve your contested divorce today.


Celebrity Divorce

Celebrity DivorceCelebrity relationships don’t always stand the test of time. The pressures that accompany fame and fortune can devastate a marriage. Unfortunately, celebrities often find that their private relationship issues, including details about separation and divorce, make headlines nationwide. At Fernandez & Karney, our attorneys understand that divorce is a highly personal and intimate matter that shouldn’t be a public affair. This is why we go to great lengths to ensure that the details of our celebrity clients’ divorces remain confidential.

Our Los Angeles celebrity divorce attorneys use alternatives to family law court to resolve celebrity divorce issues discreetly. Private proceedings, including arbitration and mediation, can be conducted behind closed doors. Any resolutions can be filed with the court and sealed for your protection. We do everything in our power to protect the privacy interests of our celebrity clients. Call us today to speak with our skilled legal team and learn more.


LGBT Divorce

Gay DivorceCalifornia has extended domestic partnership and marriage rights to LGBT couples for years. In 2015, the right to marry was cemented into American law. Just because gay couples now have the right to get married does not mean that all relationships will last. In California, LGBT couples also enjoy the right to dissolve their legal relationships.

If you are in a legal LGBT marriage and want to get a divorce, it’s important to hire an attorney who understands this evolving area of law. While LGBT couples have the right to end a marriage, it can be difficult to resolve matters that may be relevant to the split. If children are involved, determining custody and support can become complicated. You’ll need an attorney who understands what is at stake and knows how to navigate these delicate issues.

At Fernandez & Karney, we are committed to providing all clients, regardless of sexual orientation, with the best possible legal representation during a divorce. Call us today to schedule your free consultation. We’re here to help you protect your interests and get what you want out of your LGBT divorce.


Military Divorce

Military DivorceIf you or your spouse are in the military, getting a divorce can be incredibly stressful. Unlike civilian divorces, there are additional legal issues that you’ll have to consider. Where should you file your divorce papers? What kind of military benefits can be shared by the non-military spouse after divorce? How can child custody issues be resolved if spouses live in opposite corners of the country or world? In order to answer these questions properly, you’ll need the help of an attorney who understands both civilian and military divorce issues.

At Fernandez & Karney, our Los Angeles divorce attorneys have been handling military divorce matters for more than 50 years. We understand that military service can complicate an already overwhelming and emotionally-draining process. As our attorneys, it is our goal to help you fight for what you want, protect your financial interests, and find the best resolution for your family. Contact our Los Angeles military divorce attorneys today to learn more.


Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested DivorceDivorces don’t have to be contested in Los Angeles. It is possible for spouses to (a) not care or (b) agree on the terms of the split. When a spouse simply fails to respond to divorce papers, it’s known as a default. When spouses agree on the terms of their divorce, it’s known as an uncontested divorce.

When you have an uncontested divorce you still have to write down the details of your split. You’ll have to provide the court with detailed information about child custody arrangements, child support, property division, and alimony (if applicable). A court will review your proposed terms and sign off if it believes the terms are fair and lawful. It can be important to hire an attorney to help you draft the forms you’ll have to submit to the court. As your attorney, we will make sure that what you’ve agreed to is fair and that your rights are protected. Call our Los Angeles uncontested divorce lawyers today to schedule your free consultation.


Complex Property Division

Complex Property DivisionUnless you have a prenuptial agreement dictating how assets will be divided, state law gives each spouse an equal interest in all marital property. In other words, spouses are entitled to half of all property owned by both spouses and/or acquired after marriage. When you and your spouse own hard-to-value property, it can be difficult to figure out how those assets can be divided equally. Things like partnership interests, intellectual property, and retirement benefits can pose a problem when you get divorced.

It’s important to make sure that you have a reputable financial team on your side when you are faced with complex property division issues. At Fernandez & Karney, our attorneys have developed close relationships with respected auditors, appraisers, and forensic financial experts. We work closely with these experts to assess the value of your assets. Once we’ve identified the value, we can approach the negotiating table. We’ll determine which assets you want to keep, which ones you’re willing to give up, and fight to realize your expectations. Call our Los Angeles complex property division attorneys today to learn more.


Spousal Support

AlimonyWhen you get divorced you have the right to maintain the standard of living you grew accustomed to during your marriage. In marriage, however, it’s not uncommon for one spouse to earn significantly more than the other. This can pose a problem once the couple is no longer together. Spousal support can be awarded to help the lower-earning spouse maintain their lifestyle and get back on their feet after divorce.

In California, a variety of factors go into calculating spousal support. This includes income, earning ability, contributions to the marriage, sacrifices for the other spouse, age, health, and financial need. Spousal support is often a hotly-contested issue in a divorce. At Fernandez & Karney, our attorneys are prepared to help you fight for or contest a request for alimony. We will carefully review your family law matter and develop an argument that supports your position. Call us today to learn more.


Child Custody

Child CustodyDivorce becomes much more complicated when children are involved. In California, both parents share an equal right to be present in their children’s lives. When parents decide to split up, it’s not uncommon for disputes about who the child should live with, and when, arise. Any child custody decision should be made with the child’s best interests at heart. It can be important for parents to put their own personal feelings aside and do what is really best for their young child. However, there are times when battles over custody can become negative and adversarial. It’s important to have an experienced Los Angeles family law attorney by your side to make sure your family is protected.

At Fernandez & Karney, our Los Angeles child custody attorneys will fight to do what is best for you and your child. The best solution typically involves sitting down with a neutral third party, identifying the interests of both parents and the child, and working toward a mutually-agreeable arrangement. If this doesn’t work, we will gather evidence to support your quest for custody. Call us today to learn more.


Child Support

Parent supporting childWhen parents get divorced it is important to make sure that their children’s financial needs are met. In fact, California courts will make sure that a valid child support order is in place before a divorce will be finalized. While both parents have an obligation to provide for their children, support requirements tend to fall on the shoulders of the parent who:

  • earns more money and/or,
  • spends the least amount of time with the child.

In California, child support is determined by using the Statewide Uniform Guideline. This is basically a formula that analyzes a variety of factors, including each parent’s income, non-financial contributions, and time spent with the child. The only way to augment a child custody support order is by changing the factors that go into this equation.

At Fernandez & Karney, we will make sure that any child support determinations are calculated using the best possible information. We’ll also make sure that other relevant issues, including child custody and timeshare percentage, are finalized with support obligations in mind. One divorce issue can affect the other. It’s important to work with an attorney who understands the intricacies of the divorce process. Call Los Angeles child support attorneys today to schedule your free consultation.

Tools To Help the Divorce Process

Getting divorced will affect you, your spouse, and your family for the rest of your lives. It is important to acknowledge the importance of the decisions you make throughout the divorce process. While the court can step in and make decisions about your future, it is always best to try to resolve issues on your own. Why? There are three reasons: control, cost, and privacy.

Control: When a court makes decisions on your behalf, you have no control over the outcome. Privately negotiating the terms of your divorce with your spouse allows you to retain at least some degree of control.

Cost: Going to court is expensive. A great way to minimize the costs of your divorce is by making decisions on your own.

Privacy: Many divorcing spouses, particularly celebrities and high-net-worth individuals, do not want the details of their personal lives to be public. In choosing private negotiations, spouses can retain a shield of privacy over the proceedings. Any agreements submitted to the court can also be sealed for your protection.

When you get divorced, no one expects that you and your spouse will see eye-to-eye on everything. There’s a reason that you’re ending your marriage. Fortunately, there are tools available to help you navigate the process. These tools are designed to help spouses find common ground, identify big-picture issues, and reach decisions that work for the family as a whole.

Divorce Mediation

Mediation may be your best option if you and your spouse can agree on some, but not all, aspects of your divorce. In mediation, you and your spouse (and your attorneys, if you’d like) sit down with a neutral third party known as a mediator. It’s not uncommon for mediators to be retired family law attorneys and/or judges.

The mediator works with you and your spouse, both individually and together, to help you move toward mutually-agreeable solutions. Their job is to identify issues, find common ground, and move negotiations in a positive direction. However, the mediator has no authority to resolve your dispute. You and your spouse retain 100% control. If you can agree on the terms of your divorce, the mediator will draw up a legally-binding contract. Once you sign, you’ll be obligated to comply with its terms.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is not unlike mediation. However, instead of working with a neutral third party, you and your spouse rely on your attorneys to resolve your issues. This allows you to maintain control over the outcome of your divorce. During the process, both attorneys have the right to offer evidence and present witnesses that may support their client’s case.

The collaborative divorce process requires a firm commitment from you. Once you decide to use collaborative divorce, you must agree to resolve your issues without going to court. If you can’t resolve your issues using collaborative divorce you will be required to start from scratch. You’ll have to hire a new attorney and begin negotiations from the very beginning.

Divorce Arbitration

Arbitration is essentially a private trial. You, your spouse, and your attorneys gather for a formal hearing before a neutral third party known as an arbitrator. Both sides have the opportunity to offer arguments, question witnesses, and present evidence.

The arbitrator has the authority to make unilateral decisions about your future. As a result, you essentially give up the right to make final decisions that will affect your life. Any decisions made by the arbitrator will be detailed in a formal contract. Once you and your spouse sign, you will be legally obligated to comply with its terms.

Speak with a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer at Fernandez & Karney Today

At Fernandez & Karney, our Los Angeles divorce lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience. Additionally, attorneys Steven Fernandez and Mark Karney are Certified Family Law Specialists with experience handling complex divorce cases. If you need further assistance, please contact us today for a free consultation by calling (310) 393-0236.


A Review of Fernandez & Karney, Los Angeles Divorce Lawyers

Steven Fernandez did a great job handling my divorce case. He’s been doing this for a long time, and he correctly predicted what the other side would do. I’m glad I had Steve on my side.
Date published: 2018-09-02
5 / 5

Divorce Resources


Divorce Blog Posts