Divorce & Family Law

Richard F. Sperling

An effective, ethical, and experienced divorce attorney can get you results without unnecessary conflict, expense, and delay.  Divorce is not only a major life transition, it is also a lawsuit.  Effective counsel can reduce conflict and expense, and avoid delay.

The first step in a divorce is to meet with an attorney and discuss your legal options. To file for divorce, one of the parties must be a resident of California for the preceding 6 months, and that person must have lived in the county of filing for 3 months.When necessary to protect a party, the court will issue additional restraining orders.


A divorce is commenced by filing a Petition with the court.  The court charges a $435 filing fee, and a copy of the filed Petition is provided to the Respondent spouse.  Filing the Petition begins a six-month waiting period.  This “cooling-off” period must pass before a judge will sign a divorce judgment.

During the 6-month period, most spouses reach a temporary agreement.  If a temporary agreements cannot be reached for custody, visitation, support, attorney’s fees, and the use of particular assets and payment of specified debts and monthly expenses; a court hearing may be necessary to establish rights and obligations during the waiting period. , but if necessary, we bring a motion before the court requesting the court to issue an order as to these issues applicable during the six-month period.  This motion, or request for orders, is called an “RFO” proceeding.

When a divorce case is filed, the court issues a set of restraining orders which apply to protect each party. These orders provide that unless the parties agree otherwise, children must not be taken away from either party, property cannot be sold or given away, insurance policies may not be canceled or modified, and Trusts and Wills may not be revised.

When necessary to protect a party, the court will issue additional restraining orders.

After filing, each spouse must sign disclosure forms disclosing all income, expenses, assets and debts to the other spouse.

In most cases, we are able to negotiate the terms of a final marital settlement agreement.  We then draft a final MSA or “Stipulated Judgment.”  Both parties and their attorneys sign the MSA, and it is presented to the judge for approval and signature when the six-month waiting period has passed.  The MSA specifies the agreement of the parties as to:

  • Custody and visitation of children and pets;
  • Division of property and debt, including real estate,
  • Division of retirement, pension, investment, and bank accounts,
  • Division of personal property including cars, furniture, musical instruments, jewelry,
  • Division of antiques, collectibles, and cryptocurrency.

Occasionally, the parties do not reach agreement.  In these cases, a hearing is scheduled, evidence is presented to the court, and the judge issues a judgment resolving all issues in the place of the MSA.

Annulment: Some marriages may be voided.  Seeking an annulment is an option if one of the parties was under 18 years of age at the time of marriage, one of the people married under force or fraud, or either person was already married and not divorced.  A “private judge” may act to sign a judgment of divorce or annulment, which provides the parties with privacy.

Legal Separation: In some cases, parties may choose to enter obtain a judgment of Legal Separation instead of divorce.  This judgment resolves assets and debts, support, custody, and every issue except the status of the marriage.  The marriage remains intact, so that neither party is divorced, and neither party may remarry. A legal separation can be converted to a divorce at a later date, but in some cases the parties must commence a new divorce action to end the marriage.

It is important to work with an attorney you can communicate with and trust, so that your needs and goals are valued. Richard’s approach is a careful, goal-oriented approach. Phone calls are returned, agreements regarding fees and costs are in writing, and your interests and preferences are served as your case moves forward to agreement and resolution.

At Sperling & Associates, Richard Sperling offers effective legal services for clients with family issues in a careful and cost-effective manner. These services reflect the personal preferences and goals of the client.

Choose RFS Sperling & Associates
Your Local Family Law Expert

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2393 Townsgate Rd, Suite 201
Westlake Village, CA 91361


Mon-Fri 9:00am – 5:00pm
Sat-Sun Closed