When going through a San Jose Divorce, or Santa Clara Child Custody matter, there are frequent questions that are asked.  Uncontested divorce and Limited Scope questions are asked by clients.

Here is a list of answers to the most common basic questions I get asked on a daily basis.* 


I just moved to California can I get a divorce here

California’s residency requirement is that an individual must be a resident of the State of California for 6 months prior to filing for divorce in the State.  You must also be a resident of the county which you want to file in for 3 months to file in that county.  It may be possible to file for a legal separation while we establish residency requirements

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 we filed your papers, to several years.  On average a divorce can take 6 months to 1 year to complete.

What counties do you practice in?

I practice primarily in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley and represent clients in the counties of Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and in the cities of Hayward, Fremont, Dublin, Pleasanton, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Campbell, Milpitas, Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and Mountain View

What types of Santa Clara County family law service do you offer?

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 & Annulment, Property Division, Spousal Support, Child Custody, Child Support, Uncontested Divorce, Limited Scope Representation, Child Support Modification / Spousal Support Modification / Child Custody Modification, Domestic Partnership / LGBT Issues, Restraining Order / Domestic Violence.

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

There is no strict rule for spousal support, but a marriage of 10 years or more is considered a “long term” marriage.  There is a possibility that you may receive or pay spousal support indefinitely in long term marriages.  However, family law orders are always subject to reevaluation and modification whenever situations change.

How long am I responsible to pay child support for?

Both parents are responsible for the support of their minor children.  Child support must be paid until the child reaches 19 years of age or reaches 18 and is no longer a high school student and becomes self supporting. Of course if the child dies, marries, or becomes emancipated at which time the obligation ceases.

Why do I need to file a divorce if we are no longer husband and wife?

Also called “dissolution of marriage” or “dissolution of domestic partnership” this will end your marriage or domestic partnership and the resulting legal and financial obligations towards each other.  The divorce finalizes the legal entanglements that come from a marriage.  After you get divorced, you will be single, and are free to marry again.

This does not end a marriage or domestic partnership status. You cannot marry or enter into another partnership with someone else. A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but do want to live apart and separate their money, property, and parenting issues. Couples sometimes prefer legal separation for religious reasons.

What is an annulment or nullity of marriage?

It is when the Court says your marriage is NOT legally valid. A marriage that is incestuous or bigamous is never valid in the eyes of the law. Other ways that marriages can be declared “void” are because: of force, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity; one of the spouses was too young to legally marry; or one of the spouses was already married.

I am concerned about the cost of legal services?

At the Law Office of James Chau we realize that the majority of people do not have the luxury of infinite resources for legal bills. In order to keep costs down, we spend every effort cautioning our clients about the legal budget and attempting to minimize costs when possible.  While no case is exactly the same, we pride ourselves in being able to work with a variety of budgets to meet your legal needs.

What if I cannot afford a retainer?

Many times in our office we speak with individuals who simply can not afford a full retainer for full representation by an attorney. For those clients we offer some exciting alternatives which are much better than simply going it alone. We offer limited scope service, where for a negotiated fee we can appear on your behalf at important hearings or court dates.  Another option I offer is pay as you go, hourly consultation in our office.

I heard my ex can pay for my legal fees?

Yes, in some instances it would be possible for a Court to order your ex to pay for your attorney’s fees.  This is called a need based attorney fee award.  It is paid for by the other party.  In our office we request that the initial retainer be paid up front and then we can attempt to go to Court to request your future fees be paid by your ex through an attorney’s fees request.

What is limited scope pay as you go fee structure?

For this service, we offer our clients who can not afford or wish full representation the ability to have an attorney consult with them in our office and possible representation in Court.  The client is still self represented, but for an hourly fee we can provide the legal research, coaching, consultation, legal writing, preparation of motions, and most aspects of legal representation in our office one hour at a time.  During limited scope the client is ultimately still self represented and must be responsible for keeping track of his or her calendar and court dates as well as receiving and responding to correspondences from the other party or Court.

*Disclaimer.  The information contained in this section is not intended to be specific legal advice for your case. You should consult with your attorney to receive proper legal advice.  Only a consultation and a signed retainer agreement shall establish an attorney client relationship with Law Office of James Chau.