Pasadena Divorce Attorneys

The end of a marriage is an emotionally traumatizing event in a person’s life. Change is never easy and facing an uncertain future can be scary. The situation is even more complicated and stressful when children are involved. As a parent, you worry about them struggling to adjust to a new normal.

At such a challenging time, it’s important to find a smart and trustworthy divorce lawyer who will treat you and your family with the compassion, sensitivity, and understanding you deserve.

About the Law Firm of Grace Lea Chang, APC:

For more than 20 years, the Law Firm of Grace Lea Chang, APC has helped families in Pasadena navigate the personal, emotional, and financial challenges associated with divorce. We realize there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to family law. That’s why we take the time to get to know our clients and listen to what their goals and hopes are for the future. Our personalized approach allows us to create customized solutions that meet the needs of families while helping them move forward in their lives.

The divorce attorneys at the Law Firm of Grace Lea Chang, APC are highly respected in the Pasadena legal community and well-versed in the operation of the local court system. They can guide you through all aspects of divorce from the initial filing of a divorce petition to the final judgment. Skilled in negotiation, mediation and litigation, our divorce lawyers are prepared to handle any type of divorce.

Our goal is to help you and your spouse resolve issues peacefully. The last thing you or your children need is a long, drawn out and bitter court battle. Although we always hope for a peaceful transition, we recognize that compromise isn’t always possible. In these cases, we will not hesitate to fiercely represent your interests in court.

California divorce lawyerAreas of Expertise

  • Equitable distribution of marital assets and debts
  • Payment of spousal support
  • Child support and time sharing
  • Alimony and temporary support
  • The use and possession of the marital home
  • Temporary orders
  • Parenting plans
  • Modifications of orders

If you are considering divorce or were served divorce papers, it’s important to get legal counsel early in the process to ensure your immediate and long-term interests are protected.

Types of Divorces:

Summary Dissolution: If you were married for less than five years, don’t have children, and have limited property and debts, you may qualify for a summary dissolution. This is a simpler, cheaper way to divorce. In most cases, you will not need to appear before a judge.

You will file a joint divorce petition with the court and create an agreement explaining the division of your property and debts. A divorce attorney at the Law Firm of Grace Lea Chang, APC. will prepare and file the paperwork.

Uncontested Divorce: Do you and your spouse agree on all the issues, such as division of property, alimony, child support, time sharing, or visitation? If so, an uncontested divorce is your best option. This type of divorce proceeds quickly and smoothly. A divorce lawyer at the Law Firm of Grace Lea Chang, APC. can help negotiate a marital settlement and submit it for a judge to sign.
Collaborative Divorce: If you and your spouse are arguing over certain issues but are willing to work together, consider pursuing a collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, you and your attorney, and your spouse and his/her attorney, agree to negotiate in good faith without going to trial.

Mediated Divorce: Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution used instead of going to court. With the help of a neutral mediator, you and your spouse engage in discussions regarding the areas of unresolved conflict. Mediation lets you have control over the outcome of your divorce rather than letting a judge make decisions about your future.

Contested Divorce:  Do you and your spouse disagree on some or all of the issues? Is your spouse being unrealistic in his/her expectations?  If so, it’s likely your divorce is a contested one.  In this instance, you will undergo a litigation process and your unresolved issues will be settled by a judge.

Filing Requirements for Divorce in Pasadena:

In a California divorce, the spouse seeking a divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse was guilty of any wrongdoing. Citing “irreconcilable differences” is all that is needed to proceed with a divorce.

In order for you to file for a divorce in Pasadena, you do need to meet certain residency requirements, including:

  • you and your spouse have both lived in California for no less than six (6) months
  • you have both lived in your current county for no less than three (3) months.

Pasadena Family Courthouse Location

The Pasadena Courthouse handles family law cases for Pasadena and other Los Angeles counties

Pasadena Courthouse
300 East Walnut Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101

Overview of the Divorce Court Process:

Filing for Divorce: The divorce process begins by filing a summons and petition with the county of the Superior Court.

Serve Petition on Spouse: After the petition is filed by the court, a copy is served to your spouse. He/she has 30 days to answer the petition. If your spouse does not respond within 30 days, you can proceed with a default divorce and have the requests in your petition fulfilled by the court. If your spouse does respond, you will begin discovery.

Discovery: Discovery involves formally requesting information from your spouse. This information is obtained through interrogatories, request for production of documents, request for admissions and depositions.

Mandatory Financial Disclosures:

You and your spouse are required to prepare and exchange financial disclosures, which are documents that fully disclose all your income, expenses, assets, and debts. The preliminary documents include the Income & Expense Declaration form (FL-150) and the Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142).

Divorce lawyer in Pasadena, CAThis is a crucial step in the divorce process because it helps to identify the entire community estate. It also serves as a guideline for formulating a fair property settlement as well as spousal and child support. 

If these forms are filled out incorrectly, it can lead to devastating consequences. For instance if you forgot to list an asset or intentionally tried to “hide” an asset, you could be found in contempt of court or guilty of perjury and lose your right to a portion of the estate.

A divorce attorney at the Law Firm of Grace Lea Chang, APC. can oversee this process to make sure that doesn’t happen. In addition, we can help you gather all the financial documentation needed to support the disclosures. This may include title documents, deed to house, paystubs, credit card statements, bank statements, insurance policies, etc.

Settlement Conference:  A settlement conference is considered as the “half-way” point in a divorce case. A judge schedules this conference after you and your spouse have complete the financial disclosures and divorce discovery. The sole purpose of the conference is to try to settle the outstanding issues in your case so you can avert trial.

A lawyer at the Law Firm of Grace Lea Chang, APC. can represent you at a settlement conference and make sure your wishes are explicitly communicated. If a settlement cannot be reached, your case will proceed to trial.

Trial: At trial, arguments from both sides will be presented. A judge will review the evidence and testimony and make decisions on all relevant issues in your divorce.

Request for Temporary Orders

The divorce process in California lasts a minimum of six months. That can seem like a long time to wait for certain decisions to be made. While the divorce is pending, it may be necessary to ask the court to put temporary orders in place to “stabilize” certain aspects of your life. This may include spousal support, child custody and visitation arrangement, a restraining order, or any other matter that is pressing.

These orders, if granted would remain in effect until the final judgment of divorce is granted. If the status quo is working for all parties by the end of the divorce proceedings, it may make sense to make the orders permanent.

Dividing Property and Debts in a Pasadena Divorce

Dividing property can be one of the most contentious issues a couple faces in a divorce. You can count on a divorce lawyer at the Law Firm of Grace Lea Chang, APC to advocate for your personal and financial interests and strive to retain the portion of marital property to which you are rightfully entitled.

California is a community state, which means that property acquired, earned, or incurred during a marriage is considered community property, or jointly owned. In a divorce, the court aims to divide community property in a 50/50 split.

Community property includes anything that is of value as well as debts incurred.

How to divide assets during divorce in CaliforniaHere are examples of what may be considered community property:

  • home furnishings
  • vehicles
  • family home
  • appliances
  • jewelry
  • bank accounts
  • credit cards
  • car loans
  • 401K accounts
  • IRA’s
  • Pension plans
  • stocks
  • medical bills
  • back taxes
  • business
Property Not Subject To Division

Separate property is the exception to the community property rule. Separate property includes assets and debts accrued prior to the marriage or after the date of separation. It also includes gifts or inheritances received during the marriage. In addition, any property you purchased using funds from an inheritance would be considered separate property.

Co-Mingling Property

Dividing property can become complicated if a property that was yours before the marriage has now become “commingled.” Co-mingling can occur if you and your spouse purchased your home using a mix of separate and communal funds. In this instance, you will essentially need to follow those assets back to the source to prove it was your sole property. This can be a complicated process and requires the help of a skilled attorney familiar with classifying assets.

Spousal Support

How to divorce in CaliforniaSpousal support may be awarded if there is a large disparity of income in your marriage. This is often the case when one spouse has been out of the workforce due to raising the kids. In fact, spousal support assists that spouse in maintaining a certain standard of living. A divorce attorney at the Law Firm of Grace Lea Chang, APC can assist in calculating an accurate and fair amount of spousal support to be either paid or received.

In Pasadena there is temporary and permanent spousal support.

Temporary Spousal Support: Payable from the date the divorce petition was filed to acquiring final judgment of divorce. Additionally, temporary spousal support is calculated by a computerized formula.

Permanent Spousal Support: If you were married for less than 10 years, support is ordered for half the length of the marriage. For example, if you were married for 8 years, support would be paid for 4 years. If your marriage lasted longer than 10 years, spousal support can be paid for an indefinite period of time.

In addition to the length of marriage, the court will weigh several other factors before granting support, including: age, income and earning capacity of each spouse, overall health of each spouse, balance of hardships, future financial projections of each spouse, history of domestic violence, and more.

Custody Laws in California

In California, custody is either physical or legal. Physical custody refers to where your child will live. Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions on behalf of your child, such as where they will go to school, who their primary physician will be, or what religion they will practice.
There are a variety of custody arrangements in California. The courts believe that a child should sustain meaningful relationships with both their parents and almost always lean towards some type of shared custody. There are certainly exceptions depending on your individual circumstances, especially if your child would be unsafe in the company of your spouse.


Shared Physical Custody: child spends equal time with both parents
Primary Physical Custody: child resides primarily with one parent while the other parent has visitation
Sole Physical Custody: child resides with one parent and the other parent has little or no visitation rights
Joint Legal Custody: both parents will share the responsibility of making decisions related to the child’s upbringing
Sole Legal Custody: one parent has the decision making authority regarding child’s upbringing


Child custody after divorce in CaliforniaThe court takes various factors into consideration when determining child custody:
  • active involvement of each parent in raising the children
  • how both parents engage with one another
  • adjustments that the children will have to make at school and at home
  • The child’s preference (if they are old enough to have one)
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • Whether there is any history of domestic violence, alcoholism, or drug abuse

Child Support

Child support is calculated via a computerized formula that considers the amount of children who need support, amount of time each parent has with the children, and the net disposal income of each parent. Certain mandatory and discretionary add-ons and deductions are taken into account, such as daycare and work-related expenses.
Child support terminates when a child turns 18 years old except when a child is still a full-time high school student and lives with a parent. In this situation, child support would continue until the child turns 19 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first. California child support also terminates if a child marries, joins the military, emancipates, or dies.


Mediating Child Custody and Visitation Issues
If you and your spouse cannot reach a child custody agreement, the California Family Code requires you to attend mediation in order to resolve your differences. Mediation involves sitting down with a neutral mediator who will facilitate communication between you and your spouse.
This is a confidential, informal process that focuses on developing a child custody arrangement and parenting plan that is in the best interests of your child. Therefore, if you are not comfortable with the outcome of mediation, you are under no obligation to agree. In fact, failure to reach compromise will result in a judge making decisions about your child’s future.


Prior to the mandatory mediation, you must attend an online mediation parent education program. The “Our Children First” Program takes approximately 60 minutes and is usually completed in a single session.


Are you considering getting a divorce? At the Law Firm of Grace Lea Chang, APC we can protect your assets, parental rights, and future. Get peace of mind today and call us at 626.792.5888