Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

When one contemplates a divorce, many people have common basic questions. Here is a list of the most common questions I answer on a daily basis.

**Note - The information contained in this section is not intended to be legal advice for your particular case. You should consult with an individual attorney to receive proper legal advice. Only a consultation and retainer agreement shall establish an attorney client relationship with potential client.

If I just moved to California can I get a divorce here?

California’s residency requirement is that an individual be a resident of the State of California for 6 months prior to filing for divorce in the State. You should be a resident of your particular county for 3 months to use the court system there. It may be possible to file for a legal separation while we establish residency requirements. [top of faq]

How long does a typical divorce take to finish?

The divorce process can take anywhere from a minimum of 6 months and 1 day from the date of filing papers, to several years. I would say an average divorce takes 6 months to 1 year to complete. The entire time is not spent litigating day in and day out however, often times there are many free days between court dates when nothing is happening in your case. [top of faq]

What counties do you practice in?

I practice primarily in the greater Bay Area and Silicon Valley and represent clients in the counties of Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, San Benito, Monterey, and Stanislaus, and in the cities of San Jose, Sunnyvale, Campbell, Milpitas, Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and Mountain View. [top of faq]

What types of service do you offer at your law office?

I am proud to offer a variety of services to fulfill all of your family law issues. Here is brief list of some of the services I offer: Separation & Nullity, Property Division, Spousal Support, Child Custody, Child Support, Uncontested Divorce, Limited Scope Representation, Prenuptial Agreement, Child Support Modification / Spousal Support Modification / Child Custody Modification, Domestic Partnership / LGBT Issues, Restraining Order / Domestic Violence. [top of faq]

I’ve heard that if I was married for 10 years I have to pay spousal support forever?

There is no strict hard and fast rule, but 10 years has been established as a “long term” marriage. With that being said, there is a possibility that you may receive or pay spousal support indefinitely. However, family law orders are always subject to reevaluation and modification. [top of faq]

How long must I pay for child support?

Child support must be paid until the child reaches 19 years of age or reaches 18 and is no longer a student and becomes self supporting. Of course if the child dies, marries, or becomes emancipated the obligation ceases. [top of faq]

What is a Divorce?

Also called "dissolution of marriage" or "dissolution of domestic partnership" this will end your marriage or domestic partnership. After you get divorced, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again. [top of faq]

What is a Legal Separation?

This does not end a marriage or domestic partnership. You can't marry or enter into a partnership with someone else if you are legally separated. A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues. Couples sometimes prefer separation for religious reasons. [top of faq]

What is an Annulment?

Is when a court says your marriage or domestic partnership is NOT legally valid. A marriage or domestic partnership that is incestuous or bigamous is never valid. Other marriages and partnerships can be declared "void" because: of force, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity; one of the spouses or partners was too young to legally marry or enter into a domestic partnership; or one of the spouses or partners was already married or in a registered domestic partnership. [top of faq]

I am concerned about legal costs?

I realize that majority of people do not have the luxury of infinite resources for legal bills. With that being said, I spend every effort cautioning my clients about the budget and attempting to minimize bitterness and anger between the parties. I tell my clients that the more they can agree and come to agreements, the less time and money their divorce will take and as a result more money to divide and spend on their children. [top of faq]

What if I cannot afford a full retainer?

In my office I often speak with individuals who simply can not afford a full retainer and full representation by an attorney. For those clients I offer some exciting alternatives which are much better than simply going alone. I offer limited scope service, where for a negotiated fee I can appear on your behalf at important hearings or court dates. Another option I offer is pay as you go, hourly consultation. [top of faq]

What is pay as you go hourly consultation?

For this service, I offer my clients who can not afford or wish full representation the ability to have an attorney coaching them on their side. The client is still self represented, but for an hourly fee I can provide research, coaching, consultation, writing, motions, and most aspects of what I provide my full representation clients. The main difference is that the client is ultimately still self represented and must be responsible for keeping track of the calendar and court dates as well as receiving and responding to correspondences. [top of faq]

Can my ex spouse pay for my attorneys fees?

Yes, in some instances it may be appropriate to receive attorney’s fees paid for by the other side. For the initial retainer or fees that I charge, I require the fees to be paid up front by the client, but for future fees it may be possible to receive attorneys fees paid for by your ex spouse. [top of faq]

If I am domestic partner do I need to file for a divorce?

Yes, in most all respects California domestic partners must file for dissolution of partnership and must follow the same route of court dissolution as their traditional counter parts. [top of faq]


James Chau Esq.
181 Devine Street
San Jose, CA 95110

Tel: 1.408.913.5626

Chinese and Vietnamese spoken here!

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