Family Law Q & A


By Atty Johnson Lazaro

Divorce, child custody and support, spouse support or alimony, community property division, prenuptial agreements are all under the umbrella of Family Law.  This is an area of the law that presents the whole spectrum of human emotions.   Under family law we see denial, anger, bargaining, depression, frustration and acceptance.   However due to the volatility of human relationship,  family law becomes  an integral part of our justice system.  What follows are some answers to common family law questions.

How long to get a divorce in California?

Generally speaking a divorce is usually concluded within six months in California.  However a marriage will not automatically dissolve within six months.  There are procedures to be completed, forms to be filed and fees to be paid.

The lawyer for my ex keeps asking for my records and documents, should I provide them?    A party to a divorce has the duty to fully and accurately disclose all assets and liabilities in which one or both parties have or may have an interest. This responsibility includes the duty to disclose all community assets. The failure to disclose, or provide inadequate disclosure, can be grounds for the court to set aside the entire judgment.  This means even after your divorce is completed, it can be reversed.

What’s the best way to gain custody of my child?  The Court will look into what is in the best interest of the child.  You must honestly look at the situation that your child is in and decide whether you would be able to provide a more safe and nurturing environment.  If you believe that the other parent would not do a good job caring for the child then get ready to articulate your reasons if you go to court without an attorney.

I have not seen my child in years.  Can I still get custody?  The family law judge would not instantly award you custody of the child.  You may first get some visitation time and gradually work your way to more custody.  You’ll need to prove that you can be a responsible parent and comply with court orders.  The next step will be to file a modification of custody.

How can I get spouse support? Obtaining spouse support can be complicated.  Try to consult with an attorney.  Generally, some experts argue that temporary spouse support is to enable one spouse to live in her accustomed manner or lifestyle during a divorce proceeding.  If one has a high standard of living during marriage and all of sudden, the divorce has left you without a roof on your head; you have good argument for support.


What’s the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?  The main difference of course is that divorce dissolves the marriage.  One is again single and free to marry.  Legal separation does not terminate the marriage.  Some people use legal separation to get around the six month waiting period.  One can initially file for legal separation and then amend the petition once the residency requirement is met.

My house was fully-paid for before I got married.  Now that my wife filed for divorce can I keep my house?  Generally, property acquired before marriage are ordinarily the separate property of the spouse who acquired it.  Conversely, if you acquire property during marriage but after separation you may get to keep that property as your own.  See an attorney about this.

My child is with me in New Jersey and I have filed for child custody here.  Now my Ex-husband filed a case California to get custody of my child.  Can he take my child?  This is a very common question. Generally, unless there is an emergency, if there is a child custody proceeding in another state a California Court will decline to hear the case especially if it determines that the parties will have hardship proceeding in California.  However, the California Court may retain jurisdiction over the issues of the case such as the divorce or community property division.

Johnson Lazaro has been practicing law for over 25 years. For questions please call 866-237-9555 or Email:   This article should not be taken as legal advice.  This is not meant to create a lawyer-client relationship.