How is Property Divided in a California Divorce?
Division of real estate, cars, accounts, stocks, businesses and more
Learn how California law divides property in a divorce
How is property divided in a California divorce? Almost without exception, a divorce will involve dividing property. Property includes real property and/or personal property. Real property is real estate such as the family home, rental property, investment property, commercial property, land and even a timeshare. These are the most common types of real property divided in a California divorce. Personal property is everything that is not real property.
Some people do not realize personal property's definition is so broad.
If you asked most people what "personal property" meant, they might refer to their furniture, furnishings, appliances and personal effects. All of those items are personal property but so are vehicles, bank accounts, retirements, stocks and bonds, and even the family dog. When you look at personal property the way California family law views it, the concept of dividing it in a divorce becomes easier to understand.
You and your spouse have the power to divide the property as you mutually agree is appropriate
The judge does have the final decision regarding your property division agreement with your spouse. However, rarely does a family law judge refuse to sign a judgment on the division of property. So long as both spouses complete the appropriate documents (including but not limited to your mandatory disclosures) and your attorneys draft the agreement properly to divide the real property or personal property, the family law judge will approve the agreement.
Therefore, when you read this article, keep in mind you and your spouse are free to enter into a division of property that is completely or partially different from what we explain here. This article goes into the more common scenarios for dividing property. This article is not legal advice and not intended to apply to your specific situation.
Dividing The Family Home in a California Divorce
If the family home is entirely community property, spouses usually sell the family home and divide the net proceeds or one spouse buys out the other spouse's community property interest. The buyout usually includes payment of one-half of the equity to the other spouse and a modification of the loan to remove the bought-out spouse from the mortgage.
The bought out spouse then signs a deed that transfers his or her interest to the other spouse.
This buyout protects both spouses
It protects the buying spouse by giving him or her clean title to the family home. It verifies each spouse's intent for the family home to be the buying spouse's sole and separate property. This also protects the bought out spouse because it gives him or her one-half of the community property equity and removes him or her from the mortgage so that loan does not hang over the bought out spouse's head.
A buyout does not always include payment of cash. A buyout may include an offset against other property. To learn more about buyouts, please check out our informative article called buying out your spouse's interest in the family home.
If the home is not entirety community property, then the buyout is only of the community property portion. Sometimes, one spouse pays the down payment on the home with his or her separate property funds. That spouse may have a claim to reimbursement of that down payment off the top of the proceeds. This is a Family Code 2640 claim.
Dividing other real property in a California divorce
Spouses may divide other real property such as rental or investment property, land or commercial property in a similar way. Rental or investment property typically generates income. For that reason, the spouses should take care to ensure the division is reasonable in light of the income the property generates.
Dividing commercial property
The same may be true about commercial property. If the spouses own a community property business that one or both of them operate and that business operates at the location of the commercial property, it may make sense for the person awarded the business to receive the commercial property and pay the other spouse for his or her community property share of both. However, that is not an approach appropriate in every case.
The spouses may treat land very similar to the family home. However, if the land has the potential to produce income, spouses must again take care in evaluating how its income producing potential affects a reasonable division of it pursuant to California law.
Can spouses continue to co-own community property after divorce?
Yes, spouses can continue to co-own community property as part of their agreement. There is no rule that mandates spouses sell property or buyout the other spouse. However, if spouses intend to do this, the judgment should be clear regarding each spouse's ownership and responsibility. Separately, the spouses should consult with a civil transactional attorney who can advise them on the co-ownership terms, especially if the community real property is income generating or may become income generating in the future.
Did you know our family law firm has referrals to highly experienced and knowledgeable civil transactional attorneys? We have a nice rolodex (yes, we rather aged ourselves with that word) of professionals when our family law clients need referrals to other attorneys or professionals.
Dividing Furniture, Furnishings and Appliances in a California Divorce
Smart family law attorneys rarely like to get involved in dividing such items. For most married couples, these items do not have enough monetary value to justify a significant investment of attorney time (and your money) into their division. Spouses will typically discuss division of such items among themselves and the judgment will incorporate that agreement.
It is unusual for spouses to sell all of the furniture, furnishings and appliances as part of an agreement.
Spouses usually divide the items with each spouse keeping certain items as their sole and separate property. The goal is to reach an equal division of these items.
In those situations where the furniture, furnishings and appliances are of a significant value, spouses through their lawyers can hire an appraiser who will value the items. This may be a joint appraiser or each spouse can have their own, depending on how negotiations go.
Spouses may use the lottery method to divide such property in a divorce.
As a last resort, some spouses use the lottery method to divide such property. The lottery method means at a flip of a coin or other method, one spouse will choose one item, followed by the other spouse choosing the next. Even the lottery method can get complicated if there is significant difference in the value of property.
Dividing antiques, art, memorabilia and coin collections in a California divorce.
Spouses usually divide such items similar to furniture, furnishings and appliances. The main difference is such items usually do require an appraiser to value them if they are of significant market value or have the potential for such value.
How is jewelry divided in a California divorce?
Spouses typically keep the jewelry gifted to them by the other spouse or other family members during the marriage. For example, each spouse will typically keep his or her respective wedding rings. Spouses will also typically keep their watches or jewelry gifted to them for birthdays, holidays or anniversaries.
Sometimes, a spouse may not intend a jewelry purchase as a gift.
Some jewelry purchases may be an investment. In such a situation, spouses will appraise the jewelry and divide it by its sale or a buyout of one-half of its community property value.
How are vehicles, boats and trailers divided in a California divorce?
Spouses usually divide cars, motorcycles, boats and trailers by first determining its fair market value and then deducting the loan. This then results in the net value. There are websites such as kbb.com and Edmunds.com that help value such items of personal property. Spouses may rely on those websites to determine the gross value. Spouses typically use the private party value to determine its market value.
How are Bank Accounts Divided in a California Divorce?
Bank account division is simple if the spouses keep good records of the source of money deposited and expenses paid from the bank account.
If the money in the bank account is entirely community property, the spouses may simply divide the bank account's balance as of the date of separation. They can then establish their own bank accounts. They should be cautious doing this if either of them has already filed a divorce petition to avoid violating the Standard Family Law Restraining Orders printed on the back of the Family Law Summons.
What if one or both spouses paid debts incurred during the marriage (or other community debts) from that bank account after the separation date?
Since community debts are both spouse's responsibility, debts paid from community proceeds usually do not result in a reimbursement to either spouse. However, this scenario has several moving parts. As one example, what is the date of separation? That is critical to the community versus separate analysis.
What we wrote above applies to savings accounts, checking accounts and credit union accounts.
Challenges of dividing back accounts when one spouse is the much higher income earner
One of the challenges of dividing bank accounts is situations where only one spouse is the income earner or the much higher income earner. Sometimes, the homemaker in that scenario takes care of the family's finances including payment of expenses. That homemaker or lower earning spouse will not have the ability to pay those expenses if the other spouse closes a bank account or refuses to deposit money in it. Fortunately, there are solutions to these problems and they often involve:
- The spouses collaborating with each other to come up with a proper child support, spousal support or other support amount, or
- The spouses will come to an arrangement for payment of those ongoing expenses.
How are brokerage accounts divided in a California divorce?
Brokerage accounts are similar to bank accounts, unless the brokerage account has tax-deferred money or equities within it and a withdrawal or transfer may trigger certain tax consequences. For these reasons, before spouses divide a brokerage account, they should consult with their financial advisor and tax professional.
There is no substitute for proper legal representation.
These issues can get complicated quickly and spouses often do not appreciate the consequences of their actions. Consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney is necessary.
Term, Whole and Universal Life Insurance Policies
There are different types of life insurance policies.
The three most common types are:
- term life insurance policies,
- whole life insurance policies and
- universal life insurance policies.
Term life insurance policies typically provide accidental death coverage to one or both spouses for a set number of years.
Term life insurance policies are typically between 10 to 30 year terms. The insurance company pays a set dollar amount set forth by the insurance contract upon such death.
A whole life insurance policy usually provides coverage for life. The insurance company may set the premium amount for such a policy and that premium may remain the same amount during the insured’s life. Such policies also have a cash value that grows during the policy’s lifetime. This growth is typically tax deferred until used through a withdrawal.
Universal life insurance policies are similar to whole life policies. With a universal life insurance policy, the policyholder usually has some flexibility to allocate his or her premiums toward the death benefit versus the cash value.
How Are Life Insurance Policies Divided in a Divorce?
The following are only some of the more common ways although these are not exclusive:
1. The owner and insured receives the life insurance policy and he or she is then free to name any beneficiary he or she wants.
2. The agreement requires the owner or insured to name the other spouse and/or the children as beneficiaries of the policy, completely or in part. This may be for a set number of years, through the end of the policy term or perpetual.
3. The life insurance policy may be security for payment of support or paid out to the other spouse as a means to avoid leaving her or him without support in the event of the insured spouse's death. These provisions are different from each other and are often confused.
Division of life insurance policies not only require spouses to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorney but also the spouse’s life insurance professional. Spouses should not assume the life insurance company would simply go along with whatever the spouses write in their judgment.
With whole or universal life insurance policies, the spouses must also determine whether to liquidate that value or leave it intact and offset the community property portion through division of other property or debts.
Under any scenario where spouses divide life insurance in a divorce, they must read the insurance policy carefully and consult with their insurance professional before making any decisions.
How are stocks divided in a California divorce?
For the purposes of this section, we only refer to private and restricted stock and not stock of publicly traded companies. Spouses may divide private or restricted stocks in several ways.
Liquidation of stock
Spouses may liquidate the stock. This usually has tax consequences. In addition, certain restricted stock units (called RSU) may have limitation periods (a window of time) as to when a stockowner can sell the stock.
Offsetting stock with other property
Like any property, one spouse can keep 100% of the stock in exchange for the other spouse receiving an asset of the same value.
Dividing stocks “in kind”
Spouses may divide stocks in kind, whereby each spouse receives one-half of the community property portion of the stock.
Take stock fluctuation potential into account when dividing them during a divorce
Since stocks are a fluctuating asset and there is a risk versus benefit there, the spouses may want to take that risk versus benefit into consideration regardless of what agreement they reach.
How are Retirements, 401(k) and Pensions Divided in a California Divorce?
There are many different types of retirements. They include but are not limited to the following:
- Individual Retirement Accounts also called IRAs. There are different types of IRAs including Simple, SEP, Roth and others.
- 401(k) Plans
- 403(b) Plans
- Profit-Sharing Plans
- Defined Benefit Plans or Defined Contribution Plans, which usually fall under the category of a pension.
- Money Purchase Plans
- Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)
- Different types of governmental plans
- 457 Plans
Public employee retirements
Retirements may be through public related employment and those include CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System), and CalSTRS (California State Teachers' Retirement System). There are also Federal employee retirement systems and plans.
Retirements that are through public entities add a layer of complication. This includes retirements for teachers, police officers and firefighters, employees of universities, and state and federal employees. Military retirements are more complicated especially with new decisions that have come down in our California appellate courts.
Retirement division requires consultation with an attorney who is an expert on division of retirements.
Most family law attorneys will utilize such an attorney expert when dividing the retirement including division of the retirement through a domestic relations order or qualified domestic relations order.
Dividing a Business in a California Divorce
How is a business divided in a California divorce?
Dividing a business in a California divorce may be the most complicated aspect of most divorces. This is especially true if there are multiple businesses or one large business.
It is beyond the scope of this article to go into the details of dividing a business. Such an article is a guide by itself and one we are currently writing.
The following are some, although not all, of the factors a court may consider when dividing a business.
- Date business operations commenced
- Business' value increase during the marriage
- Business' current value
- Type of business involved
- Documents executed by the spouses related to the business
- Ownership interest of the business owner and operator
- Role of the business owner in operations
Click on each step. The steps are numbered from 1 through 7.
The date the business operations commenced
While the form of the business (corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.) is not a determining factor in whether a business has a separate property component to it, the date the business started may be important for that analysis.
If one spouse started the business prior to marriage and the business had a value as of the date of marriage, the business owner's family law attorney will likely conduct an analysis through the use of forensic accountant as to the business' value as of the date of marriage.
Records or information helpful to this analysis include but are not limited to:
1. The business' tax returns,
2. The business profit and loss statements,
3. The business' goodwill as of the date of marriage,
4. The business' operations as of the date of marriage.
This is a starting point to determining the business’ separate property interest.
The business' value increase during the marriage
If one spouse started the business before marriage, one of the factors in determining the community property value of that business is the increase in the business' value during the marriage.
This is partly common sense.
If marital earnings, savings or efforts helped the business grow during the marriage and that business has a greater value because of one or more of the above, the community may have an interest in that increase in value.
Similarly, if the business has lost value (and likely a decrease in the business income supports this fact), that is also a consideration as to whether the community has any interest in the business.
Is the analysis that simple? No. There is more to it than just any increase or decrease in the business' value although that increase or decrease in value is an important threshold consideration.
The business' current value
California family law generally values property as of the date nearest to a trial. That means the business' value that may matter the most is that value close to the trial date.
Spouses are of course welcome to come to a different agreement and often do if there are not wild fluctuations in the business' value from one point in time to the date of trial.
This is called an "alternate date valuation." This alternate date may be the date of separation or any other date the spouses may agree should be the valuation date.
In addition, if the spouses cannot agree, either spouse may ask the court to value the business on an alternate date than the date closest to trial. There are strict procedural requirements for such a request.
That nearest the trial date evaluation does not necessarily mean that is what the spouses divide. Remember a business may be separate property, community property or a combination of both.
The type of business involved
The type of business may make a significant difference in its valuation.
For example, a professional service business that is a one or two person operation is valued differently than a manufacturing business that produces consumer products.
A construction business where the business owner is a contractor is valued differently than, for example, a consulting business that focuses on the financial market.
Forensic accountants assist family law attorneys to determine the value of the business in light of the industry.
What would a willing buyer pay for that business and for what price would a seller sell that business?
The analysis in some respects starts there and then gets deeper into the business' fair market value, which includes but is not limited to assets, inventory and goodwill.
Documents executed by the spouses related to the business
Several different types of documents may affect whether and how spouses divide a business in a divorce.
Such documents may affect the valuation process and determination. Examples include but are not limited to the following:
- Operating agreement in an LLC that is managed by both spouses.
- Shareholder agreements in a corporation that is managed or operated by both spouses.
- Spousal consent forms that a non-operating spouse may sign upon or after the corporation's formation.
- Buy–Sell agreement the spouses execute that may set forth the valuation of the business or other terms if there is events such as a dissolution of marrigae.
- While the terms of such agreements do exist with some corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships, the terms may significantly vary from one agreement to another.
- Documents the spouses executed as part of an SBA loan.
The ownership interest of the business owner and operator
How much of the business does the divorcing business owner actually own?
Are there partners in a partnership? Fellow members in an LLC? Shareholders in a corporation?
If a divorcing business owner owns 50% of the business and a business partner or fellow principal owns the other 50%, then are the spouses dividing 50% of the business?
The answer is probably yes although the spouses and especially the non-business operating spouse should perform his or her due diligence regarding the ownership interests to ensure it is not a sham.
This due diligence generally takes place during the "discovery" process of a dissolution of marriage.
The role of the business owner in operations
The other factor is the role the divorcing business owner plays in the business.
Assume one spouse started the business before the marriage. The question is the business’ increase in value attributed to the community efforts during the marriage.
What if a business owner is actively and daily involved in the business operations and without his active and daily involvement, the business would not survive?
What if the business owner has minimal involvement in the business operations and the business through its employees or technology operates itself?
This may have a significant impact on the business' community property value when conducting this legal analysis. How much of an impact it has depends on the case’s facts.
I could not have asked for a more supportive, thorough and professional experience during a very difficult family court experience. If you are searching for a family law attorney, you are undoubtedly in the midst of choices you never prepared for or thought you would have to make. Throughout my experience from initial phone call through the literal final day in court, I felt well taken care of...
I had an excellent experience with Farzad and Ochoa Family Law Attorney's handling of my divorce case. Yvette Ochoa managed my case and I couldn't more pleased with her performance. She gave me sage advice on my settlement options and crafted a comprehensive offer that in the end was satisfactory to both parties. My wife's attorney was Hell bent to take me to court. With much help from Yvette,...
There are no words to adequately express my gratitude for the services I received during the course of my, unusually complicated divorce. The entire team guided me through an extremely difficult period in my life. Their caring, for me as a person as well as a client was always evident throughout the process. Each and every member of this remarkable team remained professional, competent and...
I want thank my Attorney Yvette Ochoa for representing me during one of the most difficult and frustrating times for my family. She supported me the entire time. She always remained patient and professional. She always made me feel like my case was priority! Because of Yvette and the rest of the team I was able to gain joint physical and legal custody of my five year old son ! I highly...
Great law firm! I had never needed representation before my divorce and had no idea what the process was or how to go about it. With the help of my attorney's, my case was settled precisely as Farzad Law had laid out according to my wishes and agreements with my estranged wife. I would highly recommend this firm if you are looking for a divorce attorney.
Matt Sundly has been the greatest attorney to work with! My husband had the pleasure of working with him on his prior divorce and Matt recently helped me with my modification for custody and child support. He is a great attorney, in the court room he is aggressive and will fight with all of his might for you. He returns your calls when you need him and always gives you the best advice. He is...
I retained Robert Farzad to represent me in a custody case for my son about 3 years ago. Finding a good family law attorney to help you successfully navigate Family court is difficult. My only regret is not retaining Robert Farzad sooner than I did! I was served court documents when my son was just days old and I was in a complete panic. I knew NOTHING about family law. I chose a random...
"It is not an exaggeration to say that the life I lead today is due to the work of Robert Farzad. I was ensnared in a deadly trap by a vengeful ex-wife intent on depriving me of the wealth I worked very hard for while at the same time alienating me from my children. The process was never-ending, I was slowly bleeding to death under unaffordable payments and I was deprived of seeing my young...
"When it came time to make the painful decision to file for divorce, I was very nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I knew things would get ugly. My ex-wife was very hostile, financially aggressive and determined to fight me at every turn. From the beginning, the firm eased my concerns and lowered my stress level. They immediately analyzed my situation and put together a sound strategy...
"Words cannot describe how grateful I am to you and your staff. My move away situation was horrible and I didn’t know what to expect. But after meeting with you, I knew I had found the best possible person to represent me. You were honest, telling me the truth about my case, good and bad. You prepared me for a potentially hard and long battle. Your team was so thorough and detailed...
"I can not say enough about Robert and the culture he has created throughout his firm! Client and outcome driven through-and-through, while keeping integrity and “humanness” center stage. I hired Robert and his firm for my paternity case after 10 months with a top notch Los Angeles firm that fell victim to the same manipulations and game-playing my ex functions with. They weren’t able...
If you're looking for an excellent attorney for a family law case, Farzad Family Law is exactly what you need. From the very first call and strategy meeting, I felt instantly at ease and confident that my representation would be nothing short of amazing. I've had the pleasure of working with Matt, Peter, and Robert and they don't just claim to care about you and your personal situation; their...
"Let me first say this…FINDING A GOOD FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY IS HARD,HARD AS HELL! I was lucky to run into this firm. My situation began a couple years ago when my bitter ex filed court documents against me for custody. I had no idea about court and even less regarding family law. I was in a panic. I interviewed the first attorney I saw on yelp with 5 stars and hired him. He was a horrible...
"Before I met Robert, I had never spent more than six hours per week with my eight month old son. I tried to fight for more time but was never able to succeed. I felt very lost and scared about what might happen because I had absolutely no understanding of the family court system. My first attorney would barely take my calls or inform me of what was going on. I contacted Robert through his...
"Want to thank everyone at the Farzad Family Law offices for everything they did for me. They treated me like Family and provided the upmost sincere advise with a great outcome to my case. Thank you for having my best interest at hand and always keeping me updated. GREAT Job. Would recommend to anyone going through a divorce. They are sincere and trustworthy."
"Dear Robert and the team, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for helping me, supporting me and always giving me strength and courage not to give up no matter what. Thank you Robert!!!!!"
"After 5 years of trying to negotiate custody for my son through other law firms, and having to settle for minimal visitation rights, I now have 50/50 custody for my son, thanks to Mathew and Ashley who were able to help me!!! I am highly satisfied with their services, I would recommend Farzad Family Law to anyone in my former situation. Thank you!!!!"
"There are no words to express how thankful I was to have Matt by my side through my custody battle! The most scariest time of my life and to have the most trustworthy attorney makes it all that much easier…whenever I felt stressed out him and Ashley always made me feel confident again! He goes in there and handles his business! I can’t thank Matt (and Ashley) enough for getting me...
"Robert got the job done! Came to him with my divorce dilemma, wife wasn’t letting me see the kids. Within 2 months Robert changed everything! I am almost done with the divorce now and Robert is HIGHLY recommended, and I will recommend him to any of my family and friends in the same situation. Thank you Robert and Yvette for all your help!'
"I can honestly say that working with Farzad Family Law has been a wonderful experience through a very difficult time. I’ve been working with Robert and his team for 3 1/2 years now. Never one have I felt as though I was just another client. Even during the slow times of my case such as waiting on continuances, distant court dates, or when nothing was happening legally I could always quickly...
"Over the years, I sometimes found internet links to articles on Farzad Law’s website which I found extremely helpful – but I already had competent legal assistance in my corner. But nearly a decade post-divorce, I needed help for a very specific contempt action. Another one of those website articles lead me to place a call to Robert Farzad. Having left my name & number, Robert called back...
"I came to Farzad Family Law not knowing anything about them. I had received a recommendation from a paralegal that these people were good people. You read Yelp pages and Google reviews and you as a consumer don’t really know how things will work out for you from reviews or word of mouth. I personally don’t write reviews, but for these people you need to know. Robert and Matt and their...
"When I contacted Farzad Family Law to handle my divorce there was one thing that was important to me. I did not want to fight with my ex-wife verbally on the way out. A couple are married for many years and the last thing they do is say a lot of vile things that they later regret and have to live with. FFL handled this for us very well and I highly recommend them."
"If you’re looking for an attorney, scratch that, a firm that looks out for you, that works as a team on your case, that treats you like family I have to say I don’t think any other team could make you feel the way they treated me. I have to be honest, they make you feel important, like your case is first priority. They’re always available and able to answer any questions, you’ll never...
"I had been married just under a year when it became very clear my husband and I were not meant to be together. A couple years before the marriage, I had purchased a house that had appreciated quite a bit in the year I was married. I was concerned I would have to sell my house to pay a large settlement as consequence of the appreciation…He negotiated a financial settlement that was...
"My separation was amicable until it wasn’t. When it came time to hire an attorney, I called several. Most were practical and dispassionate. Robert, however, was not only passionate about my case, he was mad about what my ex was trying to pull. I think he might have even been angrier than I was. I hired him the next day. While handling my case, he maintained that fervor while deflecting...
"Words cannot express the gratitude I have for Robert and his staff. I contacted Robert via email around 1:30am out of desperation and I received a phone call same day. I was immediately put at ease by speaking with Robert regarding my case. My ex-husband had filed for full custody of our daughter for the second time in five years. Needless to say, I was in a state of shock and disbelief and...
"When the mother of my children filed false accusation in court to get custody of our daughter, I lost temporary custody but thanks to Farzad Family Law, seeing me on such short time notice from our court date they were able to take on my case and represent me in court doing an excellent job with clearing my name and getting me everything I ask for and more. I am very pleased and grateful...
"When my ex-wife filed papers for more custody and child support, I chose the attorneys at Farzad Family Law. They were professional, honest and always had my best interest in mind. They were always quick to return my phone calls and emails, and never beat around the bush. They will be honest and straight forward with you about your case. Because of all these amazing qualities, I was able to...
"Divorce is never easy and a divorce with children is even more difficult. After several calls and meetings with different attorneys in Orange County, I met with Robert and Yvette. Both were extremely assertive, informative, and composed. However, the main reason I chose them to represent me, was that they were patient and compassionate. I felt comfortable explaining my situation (even though...
"Life can be ever changing in a split second. I found myself in need of a divorce attorney quickly. Through a recommendation I found Robert and his team. Through their professionalism, compassion and just pure kindness, they made this journey for me and my son bearable. I will forever be grateful to them."
"Before I met Robert, I had never spent more than six hours per week with my eight month old son. I tried to fight for more time but was never able to succeed. I felt very lost and scared about what might happen because I had absolutely no understanding of the family court system. My first attorney would barely take my calls or inform me of what was going on. I contacted Robert through his...
"I had a good reason to terminate the alimony that I was paying way over half of my marriage length. However my ex had a good reason to fight for it too. After a few minutes Google search, I found Farzad Family Law Firm as one of the highest positive ranking in the business. Honestly I didn’t look further searching and just called them and talk to Matt. He made a very well-thought plan for...
"Robert has been an incredible help during a very stressful, constant battle with Orange County DCSS. He and his team were always there to answer the phone, provide advice, and therefore, drastically lowering my stress level and anxiety. He was right, it takes a little bit of time and patience, but the outcome was finally both in the best interest of my kids and fair to me. I’m quite...
"I searched for about 4 months and talked to a lot of attorneys for my case to get custody of my 14 year old daughter. Finally I talked to Robert 3 times before I said yes to taking my case. I have had a lot of bad experiences with attorneys going up against my ex-husbands attorney. I was very scared that it would turn out like it has in the past with my case getting dismissed. Robert and...
"Divorce is not an easy process. I was faced with so many different emotions I wasn’t prepared for. Luckily, Robert Farzad and team helped walk me through the process. The times I felt like I couldn’t fight anymore, the team really stepped up and made sure I didn’t give up. They are about a FAIR divorce, which I respect. I am very appreciative I had Robert Farzad and his team on my...
Mr Farzad is very accommodating and fair. He is very attentive . If you ever need to reach him for any matter, he will return your phone call or email very promptly. Although his clients are going through a very difficult time, he will act very firmly on his clients behalf and make sure that they are making the right decision under the circumstances. His staff is very pleasant and always there...
"When it came time to find an attorney for my divorce, Robert Farzad’s firm was one of the firms recommended to me. I had a long and detailed conversation with Robert Farzad after which I decided to meet with him and have him represent me. During the initial phone meeting as well as the person to person meeting, Robert made his recommendation on how to proceed with my divorce. He...
"When my ex girlfriend and I broke up for good, I knew that she would attempt to strip me away from my child’s life. She had decided to move across country without considering what would be the best environment to raise our child. At that moment I became desperate, I had gone to more than five different lawyers which gave me no absolute hope, they all said that since she was a single mother...
"Like most parents, I really only care about the safety and well -being of my children. My ex was an addict and was a direct threat to himself and my son, though no one seemed to listen to me! Once I retained Robert Farzad things changed. I had a lengthy custody battle that lasted for years, but Robert and his team were there with me every step of the way, always keeping the safety of my son...
"I came to Robert Farzad’s office after I met someone at the court house and referred me to him. I was in a nasty divorce and needed an attorney who would take my case seriously and personally. My ex is one of those wives who would say or do anything to win sole custody of the child to have more money from child support. Robert is NOT the type of attorney who likes to lose. How many...
"I have hired Robert Farzad as an out of town attorney. Although he never practiced in the town where I had my case filed, Robert soon became famous in the courtroom. Soon after other attorneys in that town spoke about him with respect and even judges respected his approach and honesty. I have never met an attorney who was so sharp and intelligent. He ALWAYS looked out for the best interest...
"Fantastic family law attorneys. They represented me in a difficult divorce case against my husband. They got great results and custody of my daughter. I wish I had hired them first."
"Amidst a major life crisis that turned my entire life upside down, when I was terrified, morose, and confused, I found Robert who helped me find clarity and calm throughout the legal process. He is always willing to go above and beyond when it comes to communication with clients – late night emails, weekend meetings if necessary, and quick response time for any and all questions. His team...
"Divorce is such a stressful area of law. I was already distressed and yet I had to think about legal implications. Robert Farzad was recommended to me by a good friend. From the first second that I talked to him, all my worries were put aside. He was so patient with me as he took me through the process while assuring me that he will take the pressure off my shoulders. He always returned my...
"I was referred to the firm by a close friend of mine. From the first phone call to the final court appearance, the professionalism and attention to detail of the staff were nothing short of fantastic. They kept me informed and most importantly, they got me results. I have to thank Matt and Holly most of all, they really got me through a difficult situation. I’d recommend the firm to anyone...
"The firm helped us thought a rough time in our life when we were struggling with a very high child support payment that they reduced by more than half. They also got us more time with our son and helped us out with a divorce that was very complicated. I couldn’t have selected a better law firm to assist me with my problems. Their staff is always available to help in anyway…I would highly...
"After going through two attorneys that did nothing for me but run up my bill, I was blessed to find Robert Farzad and his law firm. I have never met an attorney who was so sharp and intelligent. He ALWAYS looked out for the best interest of me and my daughter. Once I retained him I was finally able to sleep through the night and my stress levels were low. I never had to worry about...
"I was very impressed with the level of service I received from the firm. I met and spoke with the actual attorneys who would be representing me. They explained everything they could, should, and would do in a way that made me feel they had my best interest in mind. I was not overloaded with paperwork or unnecessary phone calls in an attempt to jack up their billing hours. Communications were...
"They talked me through everything. It was a very comfortable process thanks to them. It was a great feeling knowing they had mine and my children’s best interests at heart. They gave me their time wholeheartedly which mattered to me the most. This office proved to me that professionalism and a caring attitude can and do go hand in hand. My lawyer had a calming, yet powerful way about her...
"I am an attorney with 23 years of daily litigation experience. I first met Robert as my opposing counsel in a family law case and later handled a second matter through trial against Robert. I found Robert to be extremely knowledgeable and professional. Despite the unfortunate aspects of the litigation process, Robert always kept an eye on an effective balance between aggressive advocacy and...
"I highly recommend Robert Farzad. He is well versed on divorce, child custody and family law. He is accountable and expects the same from you. I met Robert Farzad through a friend’s attorney who Robert was up against him. My friend’s attorney, she said ‘Robert Farzad is cleaning my clock in my case against with him’. My friend’s attorney called Robert Farzad personally and explained...
"Their knowledge and expertise in negotiating helped me to obtain the best Marital Settlement Agreement for my financial situation. I would recommend this law firm to any single father looking for solid representation and the best possible financial outcome. I was able to sleep at night knowing that all the details and available options were considered and put on the table. This ensured the...
"I am a United States Marine. Robert and Matt represented me in my divorce and child custody Case. I cannot thank them enough on how they represented me in court, resulting in getting me the time I deserved with my daughter. They are true professionals and always showed true concern for me. There is not a doubt in my mind I would recommend them to family, friends or other service members....
"Recently, I was encountered with two family law cases in superior court. The first time I decided to use a paralegal in order to save money. I quickly learned that this decision was the wrong decision. It only extended my court case, caused problems I was not familiar with and ended costing me more money. The second time Matt and Robert represented me. They are skilled, they know the law and...
"I was represented by Robert Farzad and Matt Sundly in my Domestic Violence / Divorce case. It was a difficult time for me. They were professional and courteous, knowing how emotionally difficult this was for me. Their staff took time to inform me of details on the case, and in the end I was satisfied with the results all due to their efforts. I would say, if you must get a divorce, then...
"Attorney Matthew Sundly, has represented my interests in an ongoing and difficult custody situation for the last 4 years. There is no one else I would want to represent me. The professionalism, communication and interest in my case are second to none. Without Mr. Sundly’s commitment and personal attention to the details of my case, I fear what the outcome might have been. Knowing Mr. Sundly...
"I couldn’t be happier with their representation. I highly recommend them to anyone who is going through a divorce, or separation. They are professional, upfront about everything, kept me informed, and got me the results I was looking for."
"Matthew Sundly represented me in my child custody case. My son was living in a very dangerous and unhealthy environment with his mother. Because of Matthew’s skills in the courtroom and his wonderful rapport with judges and opposing counsel alike, I was able to gain full custody of my son and a very bad situation was completely turned around. Throughout my entire case, Matthew Sundly was...
"It was as bad as it could get: an angry, vindictive ex-spouse who was intent upon inflicting as much damage personally and financially as possible with lies and distortions. I faced the loss of my career, my reputation, and financial ruin. The first law firm I contracted suggested I just “give in to my ex’s outlandish demands and walk away.” This was not an option. Robert and Matt...
"I was once at a point in my life were I was scared and confused. I felt lost and alone. No one ever enters into marriage with the anticipation of pending divorce. My family is a precious part of my life that I never wanted to lose. The odds were not looking good for me even when I hadn’t done anything wrong. I was introduce to this firm. They explained to me that I had rights! They...
"They are a competent and objective professional family law firm who provides sound and consistent counsel. They are supported by a strong legal team who were impressively responsive to me. Matt and Robert always ensured I was aware of the potential downside of each issue we reviewed. They strike the right balance between taking assertive positions and the legal cost of those decisions so that...
"When it came time to file my divorce, I knew things would get very messy. My ex-wife was hostile, financially aggressive and determined to fight me at every turn. From the beginning, they alleviated my concerns and significantly lowered my stress level. They immediately analyzed my situation and put together a sound strategy to achieve the best outcome for my divorce. Throughout the process...
"The firm represented me in my divorce case. Their professionalism set me at ease by carefully explaining all my options and courses of actions I could realistically take. Their prompt service in quickly answering my questions and taking action gave me a confident feeling that my case was important to them and their staff. In the end, I was very pleased with the fair, balanced and thorough...
"In 2006, I was hit with the biggest change in my life, a bitter divorce. I had been married for over 18 years, had two beautiful girls and everything one could ask. Needless to say, this was the most difficult time of my life, a 2 ½ year divorce that ended in 2008. So I thought…In 2011, I was hit by the surprise of an Order to Show Cause from the Ex wanting long term support. I had no...
"I am so grateful to have found them and could not have asked for a more attentive or compassionate law firm during this trying time. I always knew what to expect: honesty, integrity, professionalism and they always had my best interest at the forefront. I have and will continue to highly recommend them to anyone seeking legal representation for a divorce proceeding."
"I want to off by saying after being divorced in 1994 and paying 18 years of child support you would think your legal obligations would be done. That was not the case for me. I received papers from my ex wife looking for some outrageous amount of back child support. I was not sure what do at that point so I went hunting attorneys over the internet. I was very nervous to call an attorney but...
"Matt Sundly is currently representing me in my custody case of my 1 year old son. I have been a client for well over one year and everything I have seen thus far from this law firm has been great. My son’s father left the country for a year but is seeking 50% physical custody upon his return and we will be in court within a week or two of his return. Matt has always responded to my concerns...
"They represented me in a problematic child support case. This case had been going on for quite a few years and all advice I’d been given was negative and hopeless at best. My problems seemed to be insurmountable. I was literally at my wit’s end. Amazingly, with their representation, the results they were able to obtain for me were better than I could have ever imagined. I’m usually not...
"Matt represented me on my child custody case. He is very experienced person. Still to this day I call and he gives good advice over the phone and he is very fair on the fees. I would highly recommend them to anybody."
"Robert and Matt represented me in my Child Custody case. I am exceptionally pleased with how professional their work ethics are. Not only do they show hard work ethic and a genuine disposition, but they are the type of people that you can honestly feel that you can trust with your case. They make sure that you are comfortable and well taken care of when you come to the offices to discuss your...
"I worked with Matthew Sundly whom I was very happy how he handled my case. This firm is also very fair in regards to the charges that were required. I have used them since my divorce for a custody situation and again I can’t say enough about there professionalism and concern for my case."
"I really believe that you did an outstanding job with my situation. Yes, finances were touchy, but none of us anticipated the amount that we would spend. I was very pleased with how everything turned out. Thankfully, I got a fantastic teaching job and life has gone on!"
"I was represented by Matthew Sundly in my divorce case, though I was in a very precarious place due to previously represented by another attorney. Matthew Sundly was able to get me agreeable terms and will be representing me in the future to adjust custody. He was polite, professional and took a real personal interest in my case. If there is any regret it is I did not start with Matthew...
"You are probably going through the same emotions as I was, confusion, anger, frustration but most of all sadness to have to go through this process. Rest assured, their professional staff made me feel completely at ease as I went through this tough time. Their legal team helped me understand the volumes of California divorce law and protected my best interest in my case. At the end, my legal...
Matt represented me in a “move away” custody situation with a very contentious ex-spouse. Matt was a strong representative who clearly cared about the outcome of my case. He fought for me, was strategic and tactful in dealing with the other attorney and clearly knows the court system well. I was impressed with his knowledge of my case because I had experienced previous attorneys reading...
"I had the pleasure of being represented by Mathew and supported by Ashley out the Mission Viejo office. Don’t kid yourself, this is a full service firm with multiple locations and I had regular interactions with Robert, Yvette, etc. They bring all their resources, knowledge and relationships to represent their clients and choosing a firm to fight for your family is one of the most important...
"I had case with my ex wife who I divorced 15 years ago. She wanted a low six figure reimbursement from me, though she is insanely rich and I am not, for what she claimed were medical bills for my daughter but were really almost all educational expenses. In the past, I have had multiple bad experiences with divorce attorneys, whom I spent fortunes on. The past attorneys in my divorce case were...
"Remember, during the process of your divorce Mr. Farzad will become your most trusted ally. However, it may at times seem not so. Do not lose your cool. Do not focus on the cost. Do not focus on the present but look toward the future His strategy, persistence, and attention he offers to his clients will be seen only when it's all over. No one wins in divorce but he and his staff will see that...
"It was the toughest time of my life and Robert and his team are compassionate, understanding, and will focus you on what you can control and impact to get a better result. You will get through this process but having Farzad Family Law on your side will make it easier and lead to a better result. Can't say enough about the firm, their staff and the work they do. Don't tell Robert but I would...
"Robert and his staff are very forthcoming with information. They are very straight forward and always kept me up to date on new developments. I felt completely safe and knew that every person working on my case had my best interest at heart; as well as my daughter. I wouldn't have had the outcome I did without the care and representation of Robert Farzad. I highly recommend Farzad Family...
"There was not a moment that I felt that they didn’t care about my case, knowing they were working on others cases as well. The actually hearing was nerve wracking however, Robert assured me that everything turns out exactly how it should for the best interest of the children. Robert is not malicious like most lawyers, he is realistic and his advice is positive. I could not thank Robert and...
"I was referred to Robert by someone I met at the court house. I'm glad I called him and handed my case to him. Robert takes your case very personal. He doesn't treat you like his client. He treats you like a family member. I loved the work he did for me. Hopefully I don't have to hire him again. But I will definitely hire him when I need an attorney."
"Robert gets every detail, he prepares like nothing I have ever seen, and he is an encyclopedia of legal knowledge. If you have serious money at stake, he is the attorney that I would recommend in a moment. He is not cheap but you get your money’s worth, as I did. Also his staff are great, all of whom respond quickly and are very kind professional people. He is exactly the type of lawyer you...
"I was blessed to find Robert Farzad and his law firm. I have never met an attorney who was so sharp and intelligent. He ALWAYS looked out for the best interest of me and my daughter. Once I retained him I was finally able to sleep through the night and my stress levels were low. I never had to worry about anything. Robert is a genius when it comes to the law. His staff is super friendly and...
"Mr. Sundly did an excellent job handling my divorce. He was very thorough and was always there to help me and answer any questions during this very hard time!"
"Matthew Sundly provided me with the results that I was looking for. He was attentive, professional and his team did an excellent job at handling my case."
"Matt is a trust worthy and knowledgeable lawyer who I can depend on guiding me in the right direction with my custody case. My case is still currently going on but so far he's gotten me full custody If,u 4 year old son which I can't ask for anything more!"
"Matt, Is a honest fair attorney. I've have always had full confidence in his work. He takes the time to explain things, he is fair, he does look out for the best interest for your child and you a child. I have and will continue to recommend Matt to anyone going through a delicate time in their life. Yes you can surely count on feeling safe and taken care of by Mr. Sundly. He is a honest man!!"
"I initially hired an attorney who was not as focused on difficult custody situations so I found myself in a position to find a new attorney and the firm where Matthew Sundly works came highly recommended. He immediately jumped in and brought a level of confidence and genuine care to my family situation. Divorce is hard. I am glad to have had Matt and his team supporting me through the process."
"Mr. Sundley and his team were quick to take action and to resolved my case. I am very happy with his work and I highly recommend him and his office."
"I wish I had found Matt at the beginning of my case, but I'm glad to have had him to finish it up. Matt understands family law and the court system. He presents well in court and was well respected by all. I would not hesitate, if needed, to retain Matt for any family law matter. He's my go-to-guy."
"It was because of Mr. Sundly's calm and pleasant demeanor and Farzad Family Law's incredible staff that something that could have easily been as stressful (if not more) as my previous "battles" with my ex-wife. I was always kept "In the loop" as to what was going on, what the next steps were and what, if anything, was needed from me. Mr. Sundly took the bull by the horns and did everything...
"I came to him after my original attorney did nothing more than sit and take my money, Mr. Sundly was responsive and made me feel like he cared what the outcome would be. He took what was nothing 19% custody of my son to 48% and I am sure that if I would have gone with him initially I would have had at least 50%. My only regret is that I did not go to him first."
These guys did a great job. In particular, the team approach really set them apart from other law firms, lending the obvious benefit: some lawyers are better at attention to detail, some litigation, some in managing relationships. All were important to me; however, rarely do those traits all lie within a single person. With the team at Farzad & Ochoa, all of those strengths were delivered.
Farzad Law is well-qualified for all family law matters. Robert Farzad is extremely knowledgeable in family law. I found his tutorials both informative and easy-to-read, in language we can all understand. Robert and his office staff are professional and are timely in following up on inquiries. Farzad Law uses a methodical process to evaluate your case. Their success rate is high, due in great...
I spent a lot of money getting an important stipulation done, but it was worth every penny. There is an end in sight for spousal support! All the staff were great, professional and top notch. They got the job done!
Ready to talk?
Our family law firm has offices in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. We handle dissolution of marriage actions, both prejudgment and post judgment, in each of the seven Southern California courts. We are highly experienced in California dissolution of marriage cases that involve complex property issues.
Nothing in this guide is intended as legal advice. It is not intended to apply to your specific situation. For legal advice and a discussion about your situation, we are available for an affordable strategy session and ready to help you.