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San Diego Divorce Attorneys

Our Lawyers Are Here To Help

We understand divorce is emotional and stressful but we take the stress away so you can sleep at night.

Kathy MinellaFounding Attorney

Get Help From Certified Family Law Specialists

If you’re considering divorce or have already been served, you’ll need a reputable divorce attorney, preferably a certified specialist

Our approach to each divorce case is tailored to meet your goals, we zealously advocate for every person because they are unique along with their needs. We like to say we’re a client-centric law firm, motivated by obtaining efficient and fair results for all.

If you’re struggling to collect the spousal or child support you need, think your spouse/ ex may be an unfit parent or need help dividing your marital assets including modifying your divorce – we can help.

No case is too small, too big or too complex for us to handle.

Where to Start

Process For Getting Divorced in San Diego

The process will take at minimum six months to complete as the court requires a six month cooling off period. The clock starts ticking when the petition for dissolution if filed AND served on the other party. During that time, it is best to gather all financial documents needed to prove the true value of the marital estate to properly divide all assets and debts.

Our dedicated attorneys will walk you through the process and create actionable steps for your unique needs.

By far, the most frequently asked  divorce question I get during initial consultations with new people is, “What does filing for divorce entail in San Diego?”  

Divorce proceedings start with filing for divorce, you have to file a petition for divorce. Because of the legal nature of the document, a lawyer can help ensure that the forms are filled out correctly and all questions are answered in a clear, correct manner.

We know that divorce is a foreign and intimidating process for most people, especially if this is their first time going through it.  There are plenty of horror stories about divorce… but the truth is, each case is very different and unique!  

What won’t change is the process and the requirements for every individual going through a divorce.

Divorce happens for many reasons. For each divorce, there are perhaps specific reasons that are unique to the parties involved. It comes down to should you stay or should you go? No matter the decision, it will involve emotions such as anger, grief, frustration, and worry.

We can aid in:

  • Divorce
  • Child Custody & Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support
  • Move-Away Requests
  • Restraining Orders
  • Post-Divorce Modifications
  • Division of Marital Assets

Making the decision to end your marriage isn’t easy…

There are many people who will be affected – including your family, spouse, and friends. However, your children are among the most sensitive (and will be most affected) by separation. Multiple studies show that kids are more likely to experience stress, lower academic performance, and behavioral disorders after their parents undergo divorce.

It can be challenging to balance between ending your marriage and minimizing the impact on your children. To make this decision and process easier, you should understand how kids are typically affected by divorce, what family law says with regards to ending a marriage, and how you can minimize the impact of separation on children.

We have helped enable creative solutions using virtual visitations for instances where move aways are necessary. While it’s not ideal it can bridge the gap and keep everyone connected.

Our Divorce Services

Collaborative Divorce & Mediation

A collaborative law case is made up of four-way meetings in which the parties and their lawyers work together to resolve your divorce, property division, custody and support, and other related concerns, outside of the courtroom.

Our Divorce Services

Division of Marital Assets

Generally speaking, all property that you and your spouse acquire during the marriage while “domiciled” (residing for most purposes) in California is community property. This means that all earnings, assets, and debts during a marriage are subject to equal division between the spouses upon divorce.

Financial, Custodial and Other Divorce Issues

We’re experts in complicated cases involving diverse assets, intricate divorce details/nuances or unique custodial arrangements.

Many complex issues can arise when going through a divorce, particularly when it comes to financial matters. When there are many assets are at stake, financial issues pose special difficulties.

We’ll work to secure your best interest in resolving these issues, which may include:

  • Divisions or buy-outs of interests in family businesses either when the business was opened before marriage or during marriage
  • Complex valuation issues of the marital estate
  • Issues relating to retirement benefits, stocks and bonds, social security, and health insurance
  • Securing spousal support in a long term marriage where one spouse stayed at home
  • Obtaining custody orders allowing both parents equal access to the children
  • Division of military retirement benefits and survivor benefits
  • Allocating debt between both parties or dissolving through a bankruptcy
  • Calculating income available for support when one spouse is self employed
  • Division of the marital residence
What to Know

The Cost of Divorce in San Diego

Choosing to divorce is not usually an easy decision, but once that decision has been made, thoughts can quickly turn to how much does a divorce attorney cost?

Most people find themselves asking how much does divorce cost as everyone has heard horror stories of divorcing couples who lost their entire savings after going to war over the most minor of details. Those cases are actually rare, though, and the cost of a divorce in California usually runs from $2,000 to $20,000.

If you’re concerned you can’t afford a legal retainer, we know many resources that can help.

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

We’re sure you have questions! This isn’t easy and the best outcome starts with knowledge. Here are the top divorce questions we get asked about San Diego divorces.

How to for divorce in San Diego?

Filing for divorce in San Diego simply takes preparing the petition for dissolution stating what the issues to resolve are.  If you have children, you will also file a declaration that San Diego has jurisdiction by providing where they lived for the last 5 years.

There is also a filing fee of $435 that must be paid at the time of filing.  After filing, you are required to do your financial disclosures and exchange with the other party before your case will progress.

Why do I need a divorce attorney?

A divorce attorney is necessary when you are feeling overwhelmed by the process or when you do not know what your rights are.  Many people going through a divorce are also working full time or caring for their children, it is hard to find the time to complete all the required paperwork. Also, you could have a spouse that is trying to minimize the amount of assets there are to divide and you may not know what questions to ask or what you are entitled to.  It is always best practice to have a divorce attorney you can consult during the process.

How long does it take to get divorced?

divorce will take at least 6 months to finalize as that is the cooling off period the court requires.  If the parties have completed everything that is required and have reached a full agreement that is signed and ready to file, you could be done as early as 6 months from the date of service.  However, that is not common.  Generally, it takes about a year to a year and a half to finalize a divorce if there are children and support issues to resolve.  The more the parties work together to resolve their disputed, the quicker their case can be finalized.

How much does a divorce attorney cost?

An average retainer for a divorce attorney is $5,000.  This amount goes into your client trust account and is used to pay your filing fee, service fee, and to get your paperwork started and filed with the court.

Do I have to actually go to court to get divorced?

No, you do not have to go to court to get divorced.  Many people never step foot inside the courthouse during their divorce.  It is very common to resolve all issues amicably and by way of agreement.  Also, if you have an attorney, your attorney will appear at all hearings on your behalf which is part of the reason to hire an attorney.

Legal Separation vs Divorce

When you and your spouse file for a divorce, you are essential asking for a judge to end your marriage, allowing you to legally separate and divide your finances and assets between yourself and your spouse. In contrast, when you apply for a legal separation, you draft a settlement agreement with your spouse that will explain the responsibilities and rights each spouse maintains despite living apart

Can I get an annulment?

An annulment is a potential alternative to divorce only when there’s reason to question the validity of the marriage.  Immediate regret and disappointment are not legal bases for annulling a marriage.  Depending on the basis for the annulment, a judge may either declare the marriage to have been unlawful from the outset (a “void” marriage), or to have been valid until formally annulled by the court (a “voidable” marriage).

How to change your name after a divorce?

If your divorce has been finalized in a California court, you must complete an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order asking the divorce court judge to restore your former name. You can find the form online or visit your county clerk’s office to fill out the form in person.

How to prepare for a visit with divorce attorney?

Start by making a checklist. It will not only help you get your thoughts in order, it can be emotionally calming, as well. A sense of purpose goes a long way in instilling confidence during a divorce. You want to gather together documents that will be used to determine your family’s expenses, property, assets and debts.

Still Have Questions?

Here’s a blog post we did that answers ten more questions you may be facing as part of your divorce.

Further Divorce Resources

We also developed this ultimate guide to help you navigate the waters of divorce.

I could not say enough good things about Kathy Minella. She is professional, thorough, exceptionally knowledgeable and savvy. I had an outcome that I couldn't have even dreamt. I highly recommend Kathy Minella for any legal needs.

Ashley A.Can't say enough

I met Kathy about two and a half years ago, and decided to retain her for my divorce. She told me up front that it would be more like a marathon than a sprint. Boy, was she right. The other side was so difficult and tried to block us at every turn. But Kathy wasn't fooled by the miss truths, and pursued every item on our list. The outcome was much more than I expected. Kathy controlled what was an uncomfortable ordeal for me, just as I was hoping for. I truly was able to relax and let her do what she does best. Kathy Minella, and her entire staff of professionals are the ones to go with. I couldn't be more glad that I did.

Rob CCouldn't be more glad

What Steps Do I Take Now?

If you’ve already been served or have made the difficult choice to get divorced, We’re sure you’re wondering, “What’s next?” or “I don’t even know where to start!”.

We know this can be overwhelming. Here’s our 3-step plan to get you started:


Download Divorce Kit

Unlock our one of a kind roadmap and consultation checklist. Go down the checklist BEFORE you meet with an attorney.

Schedule Consultation

Take the 15 free minutes offered to you by most offices. Chat with an attorney and get a gameplan in order that's right for you.

Retain Divorce Attorney

After you understand that best strategy and what it will cost, retain an attorney to tackle the heavy lifting.

How Long Will My Divorce Take?

Most CA divorce timelines look something like this:

A divorce in California will take at least 6 months, but could also take several years depending on the individuals involved.

A simple, uncontested divorce will normally take 6 months to complete and is the soonest a couple can divorce, due to the mandatory waiting period in California. Seeking legal expertise from professional attorneys like Minella Law Group is always advisable, couples who are going through a divorce are advised to give mediation and or settlement a solid try before appearing before a judge.

A Dissolution of divorce begins with the actual decision of becoming divorced. The petition for dissolution is prepared with the help of a capable attorney who prepared the petition detailing the way the divorce-seeking party would like to settle matters such as property, custody, and spousal support. The attorney then files the petition with the court and has the other party personally served.

Child custody disputes must be dealt with prior to the case being finalized. If the parties cannot agree on custody, it is important to get started by filing a motion in court to have the child share plan decided.

Once all the issues have been resolved, the judgment will be submitted to court for review and filing.