The Orange County Family Law Firm

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Newport Beach Family Law Attorneys

If you reside in Newport Beach and are navigating the complexities of family law matters in Orange County, Minyard Morris is your premier choice for legal representation. Established in 1977 and located in Newport Beach, we are the “go to” family law attorneys.  Hire the law firm that Newport Beach knows and trusts.

Below are a few of the reasons why choosing Minyard Morris is the best decision for your Newport Beach family law matter:

  1. Unmatched Experience and Recognition: Minyard Morrishas been a pillar of family law in Orange County for over four decades. Our team brings together nearly 300 years of collective experience, providing our clients with unparalleled insight and expertise. Our firm’s reputation is built on a solid foundation of awards, recognitions, and accolades, which reflect our commitment to excellence and the trust we’ve earned in the Newport Beach community. Each client benefits from individual attention while also gaining the collective wisdom and resources of our entire team, ensuring a robust and thorough approach to their case.
  2. Profound Local Knowledge. We believe that effective family law representation requires deep local expertise. Our team of 19 family law attorneys is well-versed in the nuances of Orange County’s family law system, understanding the preferences of local judges and the specific challenges faced in our community. This insider knowledge allows us to handle your case with a level of sophistication and efficiency that is specifically tailored to the regional legal landscape. If you live in Newport Beach, hiring a family law attorney located in Newport Beach is as local as you can get.
  3. Customized Legal Strategies. At Minyard Morris, we recognize that no two clients are the same, which is why our family law attorneys listen carefully to your needs and goals before crafting a legal strategic plan. This personalized approach ensures that your case is handled with the sensitivity and specificity it deserves, aiming to meet your objectives as efficiently and effectively as possible.
  4. Highly Qualified Specialists. Among our 19 dedicated family law attorneys, eight hold the esteemed designation of Certified Family Law Specialist by the State of California, a testament to their expertise and dedication. Additionally, four of our lawyers are Fellows in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a claim that no other family law firm in Orange County can make.
  5. Dedication to Confidentiality and Integrity. Our family law attorneys handle every case with the highest level of discretion and ethical standards. Whether your situation involves complex financial stakes or sensitive family dynamics, we maintain your privacy and work diligently to achieve a resolution that aligns with your personal interests and goals.

Our Family Law Practice Areas

Minyard Morris deals extensively with various aspects of family law, including but not limited to:

Does it matter which person files for divorce?

Not all family law attorneys agree as to whether it matters who files for divorce first. However, the consensus of opinion is that the decision as to who files is not of critical importance, with a few caveats.  The individual who files is referred to as the Petitioner and the other party is referred to as the Respondent. The Petitioner will be allowed to present testimony before the Respondent, in contested hearings. That may or may not be an advantage. Filing first does not indicate to a court that the filing party is the one who desires to get the divorce and that issue is not relevant in the State of California, in that we are a no-fault state.

One advantage to filing is that the six month wait to enter a divorce decree does not start until the other party is served with the Petition for Dissolution.  Waiting for the other party to file may be a long wait.  Waiting for the other party to file may give them an opportunity to do divorce planning re finances.

There may be important personal or psychological reasons to wait and force the other party to file.

Possibly the most significant reason to file first is to serve the other side with the Petition and Summons which contain Standard Family Law Restraining Orders regarding child custody and contain financial safeguards. If you are considering filing for divorce, it may be important to explore these issues and the restraining orders with a family law attorney  and determine whether they have relevance to your matter.

If you have decided to divorce your spouse and are considering whether to file or wait for your spouse to file, consider the issues carefully  but don’t let a family law attorney  sell you on filing first just to file first.  Being the Petitioner may have advantages in your case but it is not of real significance in most cases.

Common Law Marriages

Some states recognize common law marriages. Their laws can convert cohabitation into a marriage after a designated period of time. If you live in Orange County, you do not need to be concerned about this issue in that the State of California does not recognize common law marriages. However, living together or cohabitating can result in a civil lawsuit based on implied and express contractual rules in what is referred to as a Marvin case, named after the well-known 1976 Supreme Court case Marvin v. Marvin. A Marvin claim is a legal claim to enforce an implied or express agreement for support or property sharing between non-marital partners after the parties have separated. These complaints are not filed in the family court as they are civil actions. These cases are generally handled by civil litigation lawyers and not family law attorneys.

Equal Division of Assets

In a divorce, courts are required to divide the assets and debts in a manner that results in each party receiving 50% of the net assets of the community. The separate property of either spouse is not divided but rather is confirmed to the owning spouse. However, in certain circumstances the community may have a right to reimbursement for community money or community effort devoted to, or contributed to, the separate property of one party.  Inheritances are separate property and are not divided as community property. An equal division does not mean that each party receives 50% of each individual asset which is often impractical. Rather, it means that after the division of the assets and debts between the parties, each party  will have net assets equal to the assets  awarded to the other party. In other words, if the community estate included a house, a securities account, art and cash, the court could award one party the house, the other part the security account and the art and use the cash to equalize the distribution of the assets between the parties. Bring a list of community property assets and debts to your initial consultation with a family law attorney along with an itemization of any separate property.

Does hiring a family law attorney mean you will end up in court?

Hiring a family law attorney does not mean that you will end up in a hearing or a trial. Most people filing for divorce never see the inside of a courtroom. Most cases are settled. Some lawyers are known for litigating most or many of their cases whereas other lawyers are known for almost never taking cases to court. When hiring a family law attorney, it is important to explore whether your agenda is in alignment with that of the family law attorney you are retaining.  If both parties and two experienced family law attorneys have a sincere desire to reach an agreement on the issues, that goal should be accomplished without too much delay or cost. Of course, a conflict could arise in arriving at a settlement because of a high level of emotion that influences the definition of “fair.”   It is important to understand that while fairness is a very important concept in arriving at a mutually acceptable settlement, if a judge decides the case, the judge must follow the Family Code which requires a 50/50 division of assets and the judge must follow a set of rules that do not necessarily follow the concept of fairness as defined by either party.

Date of Separation

The date of separation is the date on which one party or both parties communicate to the   other clearly and unambiguously that the relationship is irrevocably over and terminated.  The communication does not have to be in writing (although confirming the conversation in writing avoids misunderstandings as to what was actually said), the word divorce does not have to be used, and there are no magic words. Essentially, the other side must be put on notice that they may want to protect their rights and conduct their affairs keeping in mind that the parties are no longer living together as a marriage couple. While the parties do not have to be physically separated for a separation to exist, living together may make the determination of the date of separation more difficult to prove. A temporary or trial separation is not a date of separation under the Family Code. A separation to get “some space” is not a date of separation. A date of separation may be established, but may be voided by conduct after that date. Questions relative to a potential divorce should be explored with a family law attorney and that discussion must include all of the details as to exactly what was said by both parties.

Bifurcation of Divorce

Parties may elect to obtain a divorce prior to the settlement of all of the support and property issues, by filing a Motion to Bifurcate the status of the marriage and have a decree of dissolution of the marriage entered. This can be done six months after the filing of the Petition for divorce. However, there are a number of financial conditions that must be complied with before a bifurcation will be granted. These conditions are very complex and before seeking or agreeing to a bifurcation, a discussion should be had with your family law attorney as to the impact on you of the termination of the status of the marriage.

50-50 Child Custody Orders

A myth that exists is that all child custody cases end up with a 50-50 custody order. While it is true that 50-50 has become the default position in Orange County divorce cases, it is not the absolute rule. Judges must consider evidence that a 50-50 order is not in the best interests of a child.  This issue may relate to issues regarding parental bad judgment, bad parenting, danger to a child, a child’s needs, a parent’s specific skill set in parenting, a child’s preference and many other issues.

Spousal Support

How do courts determine whether to award spousal support and if support is to be awarded, the amount. Temporary spousal support is generally determined with the use of a computer program known as Dissomaster.  Support ordered at a trial, often referred to as permanent spousal support (even though it is often paid for a finite period of time), is determined by a number of factors set out in Family Code section 4320, among them one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. The law relative to support is complex but simply stated, if a spouse cannot live at the marital standard of living and the other party has the ability to pay support to bring the supported spouse up to the marital standard of living, court may make a spousal support order. The definition of marital standard of living is subject to the discretion of the court but once determined, it essentially serves as a cap on future support.

Contact our Compassionate Newport Beach Family Lawyers

Choosing Minyard Morris means opting for a team that expertly balances professional skill with empathetic support, tailored to the unique demands of Newport Beach residents. Our dedication to your well-being and the successful resolution of your family law issues is unwavering. Reach out to us today to discover how we can assist you in facing your legal challenges with assurance and expertise.

Retain the family law firm that Newport Beach knows and trusts. Call 949-724-1111 or request a consultation using our online contact form.


Newport Beach Family Law Practice Areas: