los angeles divorce Attorney

Divorce papers with wedding rings on top

Top Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer: Stephen L. Cawelti

Divorce can be an extremely difficult time in a person’s life. To add to the stress, the process of divorce and its terminology can be intimidating and confusing. With so much at stake, it is important for you to have a divorce attorney who will guide you through the California divorce process and protect your interests.

Los Angeles divorce lawyer Stephen Cawelti was named by Pasadena Magazine as one of the top divorce attorneys in the area for the past 6 years. He has advocated and protected the interests of hundreds of individuals going through divorce in Los Angeles and is prepared to guide and advocate for you through your divorce.

Our office, located in Burbank, is a short drive from Glendale, Pasadena & the greater Los Angeles area.

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California Divorce Process

California is a “No Fault” divorce state, which means that the individual who asks for the divorce does not have to prove that the other partner did anything wrong. To get a “No Fault” divorce, one partner has to state that the couple has “irreconcilable differences” or other grounds.

Map of U.S.A. Showing No Fault Divorce Grounds
Divorce can be a complex process, especially when couples have property, assets, debts and children. Divorce attorney Stephen Cawelti and his team’s job is not only to guide you through the process, but to do the heavy lifting so that your stress is minimized. Below is a simplified overview of the typical divorce process in California:
  • One spouse files for divorce and serves the other spouse (the respondent) with the court papers. The respondent has 30 days to file a response to the divorce petition.
  • The spouses then exchange necessary information and documents that are relevant to the divorce proceedings. This will include the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure (required forms that disclose each of the spouse’s finances).
  • The spouses and their divorce attorneys meet and discuss a settlement agreement. If a settlement is reached, a contract will be drawn up and signed. If an agreement on all issues cannot be reached, the case will go to trial.
  • Once the agreement has been signed or after the trial has concluded, a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage document containing all of the court’s orders will be prepared, signed and entered into the court record.

In the state of California, a divorce cannot be finalized legally until a waiting period of 6 months has been completed. This time period starts the day that the spouse filing for divorce officially notifies the other spouse. Depending on the circumstance, paperwork can often be completed and the divorce judgement finalized before 6 months, but the divorce is not officially finalized until 6 months have passed.

Want to Avoid Court? A Divorce Lawyer Can Help

Divorce comes with a lot of decisions. Property division, child custody, child support and alimony can often be points of disagreement for couples who are splitting. Disagreements are normal, but settling disagreements in court does not have to be your only option You can save significant time, money and emotional stress by resolving disagreements outside of court with the help of a Los Angeles divorce lawyer.

Mediation

One out-of-court divorce approach is mediation. In mediation, couples will have an impartial mediator who will help them work out an arrangement that they both deem satisfactory. Our firm has served as the mediator for many divorce cases. We take pride in our successful track record of settling nearly all of the cases that commit to the mediation process outside of court. Many of our cases use the services of a retired family law judge to reach a settlement and enter the final family law judgment. This allows the parties to avoid trial in the court system, often avoiding long delays and great expense.  Some parties can benefit from taking their case out of the public court and into a “private judge” scenario, speeding up the resolution process and avoiding the airing of “dirty laundry” in the public record. Sometimes however, one or both parties have unreasonable expectations that need to be resolved in court. Even if you are not able to resolve everything in mediation, mediation can help you resolve some of your issues, which then allows you to focus on the unresolved issues in court. A judge will then make a decision on those unresolved issues. Regardless of your mediation path, it is important for you to have a compassionate and experienced divorce attorney who can help you navigate the best approach for your unique situation. When you prepare for mediation, you also prepare yourself for trial in the case that an agreement cannot be reached. Our firm prepares as if every case will go to court and lives by the motto “settle intelligently or litigate aggressively”.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce (also known as collaborative law) is another option for those who want to avoid going to court. In collaborative divorce, each individual hires a divorce lawyer who assists them in negotiating the terms of the divorce. Each individual meets and counsels separately with their own lawyer and often a team of other experts in the areas of forensic accounting, mental health and child custody. The group then comes together and meets several times to work out the terms of agreement.

Both the lawyers and the spouses sign an agreement that they will not go to court. But, if for whatever reason, an agreement cannot be reached and the case has to go to court, the divorce attorneys will withdraw from the case and the parties must hire new divorce lawyers.

Collaborative law is not for everyone, but it can help to reduce many of the emotional stresses that often accompany divorce. It is important to hire a divorce attorney who specializes in collaborative law and who has experience in collaborative negotiation. Stephen L. Cawelti has worked as a collaborative law attorney on many cases and is prepared to help you collaborate to reach an agreement that protects your interests and needs.

California Residency Requirements

In order to get a divorce in California, you have to meet California’s residency requirements. The law requires that either you OR your spouse must have lived in California for the past 6 months AND also have lived in the county where you plan to file for the divorce for the past 3 months.

If you or your spouse have lived in California for at least 6 months but have lived in different counties (for at least 3 months), you have the option to file in either county.

Divorce comes with a lot of decisions. Property division, child custody, child support and alimony can often be points of disagreement for couples who are splitting. Disagreements are normal, and settling disagreements in court does not have to be your only option. You can save significant time, money and emotional stress by resolving disagreements outside of court with the help of a Los Angeles divorce lawyer.

An Experienced Divorce Lawyer is Critical

Divorce can be incredibly difficult. To add to the life altering change, individuals must navigate the division of  property, assets, child custody, spousal support and the subsequent California laws surrounding them. Hiring an experienced divorce lawyer increases your chance of a favorable outcome and can eliminate a significant amount of stress. At the Law Offices of Stephen L. Cawelti, we recognize how much is at stake and are prepared to protect your interests and advocate for your case.

Stephen L. Cawelti

Stephen is a seasoned, award-winning, board certified divorce attorney who has specialized in complex family law matters since 2006 in California. He has acted as the lead attorney on hundreds of divorce cases and argued before the Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura County Superior Courts. He was voted by Pasadena Magazine as one of the “Top Attorneys” in the area for the past 6 years and named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.

Serving Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena & the Greater Los Angeles Area

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