Carlsbad Family Law Attorneys
Divorce Compassionate in Our Approach. 
Decisive in Our Strategy.

We develop strong cases and help guide our clients into establishing a firm footing into the next phase of their life.

San Diego County Divorce Attorney

Get Certified Family Law Specialists on Your Side

Divorce in California can be a complicated process. You should have a basic understanding of the law and process before jumping in. Below, we provide some basic information on the process and procedure involved in getting a divorce in San Diego. Of course, every case is unique, and you will want to consult with a qualified San Diego divorce attorney in your area for answers to questions that are specific to your situation.

Service of the Petition for Dissolution

The filer of the petition is known as the Petitioner. The opposing spouse is referred to as the Respondent. When the Petitioner files, the Respondent must be served with the petition before the divorce process can begin. Once the Respondent is served, the opposing spouse has 30 days from the date of service to file a response. If the Respondent fails to respond, the Petitioner may choose to request that a default judgment be entered against the Respondent.

This method can be helpful when the opposing spouse refuses to participate and, as a result, wishes to make the divorce process more difficult.

Once the Petition is properly served, the Divorce proceedings begin and your case either moves toward settlement or trial.

Six-Month Waiting Period

In California, parties cannot officially divorce until six months have passed from the date of service of the Petition for Dissolution. This does not mean that the case cannot settle within the six-month waiting period. It only means that the marital status will not terminate until that time.

Often, divorce cases may settle relatively quickly, and a judgment of dissolution will be entered by the court prior to the six-month time period lapsing. In cases such as this, all provisions of the settlement go into effect upon the judgment being entered, and the judgment will note a date in the future when marital status is actually terminated.

If you are considering filing for divorce or have been served with a Petition for Divorce in North County or the San Diego area, call Griffith, Young & Lass for a consultation. Ask about our flexible office hours and payment plan options. Contact us online or by dialing (858) 371-5569.

Uncontested Divorce in San Diego County, California

Also called “default” cases, uncontested divorce occurs when one spouse does not respond to the other’s petition for separation or divorce for 30 days. An uncontested case may also result if a response is filed, but then an agreement is made between the two parties. This type of divorce is ideal for those who hold no bitter feelings or resentment toward each other and want to work quickly toward a resolution.

In what’s called a “true default,” the party who is served and doesn’t respond gives up his or her input in the duration of the case. The served spouse needs to not respond for at least 30 days unless he or she is actively serving in the military.

After the required 30 days have passed, the party initiating the divorce needs to fill out various forms, make two copies, and then turn in all these forms into the court clerk. Finally, a judge will review the documents. If the forms are correct, the judge will sign them, and no court appearance is required from either party. However, if there are any issues with the forms, a correction and/or appearance in court may be necessary. Lastly, both parties will be mailed a Judgment and Notice of Entry of Judgment. This final document will be stamped with a date of filing and should be retained for each party’s records.

John Griffith, a family law attorney with Griffith, Young, and Lass, advises: “Even if you think your uncontested divorce will be straightforward, be sure to carefully read every document you’re served. If there is anything you don’t fully agree with or understand, it may be best to seek legal advice from a professional.”

Contested Divorce in San Diego County, California

In more complex cases, especially those involving children, assets, debts, or property, a contested divorce is another way to proceed. For spouses who do not agree on the terms of their separation, this may be a better option.

“A contested divorce is often more time-consuming and much more costly; if you’re willing to mediate and reach an agreement outside of court, you might want to reconsider the uncontested divorce,” notes Mr. Griffith. “However, if the process is simply too complicated, contesting the divorce may be necessary. Whichever way you choose to go, it’s best to consult with a legal professional to help you handle your case.”

For a divorce to be considered contested in California, both parties must file their own responses with the court. They each need to base their disputes on the details of the divorce. If each party agrees on most issues, they can also ask for a bifurcation, wherein a separate trial will deal only with the disagreements. A bifurcation can speed up a divorce, as it focuses on resolution.

If you need the support of a skilled legal professional, call Griffith, Young & Lass at (858) 371-5569 today!

Control of Assets After Filing for Divorce

Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders

Once the Petition for Divorce has been filed and served, there are automatic restraining orders that go into place immediately. Divorce lawyers call these “ATROS.” These orders enjoin either party from moving assets, including cash, stocks, retirement accounts, etc.; they also enjoin either spouse from canceling or changing any health insurance plans, auto insurance plans, and life insurance plans without the express consent of the other spouse or an order from the court.

It is very important that you understand the ATROS and abide by them. Violation of the ATROS could result in sanctions and attorney’s fee orders against you.

Fiduciary Duties During Divorce

Each spouse in a Divorce proceeding owes the same fiduciary duty to the other spouse as he or she would owe to a business partner. The marital assets must be regarded as business assets and managed and cared for as such. If the parties own a house together, the house must continue to be maintained by the party living in the house. If the parties own a business together, the business must continue to be run with as much responsibility and due care as it was during the marriage. In short, damage to a marital asset due to the neglect of one spouse amounts to a breach of that spouse’s fiduciary duty to the community and to the other spouse.

Breach of fiduciary duty is taken very seriously by California divorce courts. In egregious cases, the court may award an entire asset to the non-offending spouse in a case of breach of fiduciary duty.

If you are not sure what you can and cannot do once a divorce has been filed, call now for a consultation with an expert divorce attorney at GYL.

Financial Disclosure Requirements in Divorce Cases

Full Disclosure Requirement

California has very strict requirements when it comes to financial disclosures between parties in a divorce case. Within 45 days of filing a petition for divorce, each party is required to disclose 100% of all assets and debts, as of the date of disclosure, and to serve the other party with a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure, along with the financial disclosure documents themselves.

Financial Disclosure Documents

The two most common financial disclosure forms used as part of the divorce process in California are the Schedule of Assets and Debts (SAD), and the Income and Expense Declaration (IED). The Schedule of Assets and Debts is a full list of all assets and all debts, including the date of acquisition, the fair market value, and any money owed on an asset. The Income and Expense Declaration is a snapshot of each party’s monthly income and monthly expenses. This document will include information related to earnings, expenses, educational background as well as asset holdings such as a bank account balance.

Full financial disclosure is perhaps the most important aspect of the preparation of a divorce case. Both parties should have everything on the table when negotiating the terms of settlement. If one party discovers that the opposing party has willfully failed to disclose assets or income, this can have devastating consequences on the non-disclosing party, including sanctions, attorney’s fees and the setting aside of a judgment of dissolution.

There is a famous case in California of a woman who failed to disclose a winning lottery ticket of over a million dollars. She held onto the ticket until the divorce was final and then cashed it in. When her ex-husband discovered that this lottery ticket was purchased during the marriage and thus considered community property, he filed a motion with the court. The court awarded the ex-husband 100% of the lottery winnings as a sanction against the wife!

If you have questions about California’s strict laws regarding financial disclosures in divorce cases, call now to speak with an experienced divorce attorney on our team. GYL can be reached at (858) 371-5569 or via our online contact form.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Marriages

In general, long-term marriages often create more complex divorces, as there are more assets, debts, shared properties, insurance issues, and various other finances to consider. Additionally, in California family courts, long-terms marriages (marriages lasting more than 10 years), and short-term marriages (marriages lasting less than 10 years) are treated differently when it comes to the duration of court-ordered spousal support. Specifically, in short-term marriages, the court determines the amount of spousal support that will be paid for a specific period of time (typically half the duration of the marriage); whereas in marriages of long duration, the court retains indefinite jurisdiction over the divorce, giving it the ability to reevaluate and modify an existing order when it sees fit to do so.

Divorce Involving Minor Children

Divorces involving minor children must be treated with care and with the presence of mind that children know what is going on and often blame themselves for the separation of their parents. It is very important to insulate children of divorce from the emotional turmoil of the court process as much as possible. Litigation regarding the custody of minor children is hands-down one of the toughest aspects of a family law attorney’s job, and often the most painful part of the divorce process for the parents.

If we could give one piece of advice to our clients going through a divorce with children, it would be to work together as parents to make the process as easy on the children as possible, despite any personal issues you may have with one another.

We can help. Call (858) 371-5569.

High Asset vs. Low Asset Divorce

Low asset divorces are generally much simpler to resolve considering that not much is at stake from a financial perspective—of course, this is all subjective. Often, it is better to cut your losses than to pay an attorney more than the fight is worth.

On the other hand, the higher the value of the marital estate, the more there is at stake. Considering the respective claims of the parties, sometimes it makes sense to spend more money and effort fighting for a particular interest. That is not to say that high asset cases don’t ever settle—just that at times it makes sense from a legal and financial perspective that a particular claim should not be conceded for the sake of settlement.

You always want to balance the amount you will pay to fight for a claim against the potential outcomes–win, lose or draw. A good divorce attorney will be able to give you realistic expectations and advise against throwing good money at a losing battle.

Military Divorce

A divorce involving one or both spouses serving on active duty presents many unique challenges and requires a creative, problem-solving approach—especially in cases involving the custody of minor children.

Divorcing military families require co-parenting plans that must consider abnormal work schedules, frequent moves, and deployments. There are also special rules for military divorces regarding health insurance benefits, division of retirement benefits, and procedures for case progress when one party to the action is deployed.

We represent military families (both servicemembers and spouses) at an increasingly high rate considering the concentrated military presence in San Diego County.

We offer a discounted hourly rate and flat-fee services to military members and spouses.

Gay Divorce

With the recent evolvement of civil rights and protection of the right to marry for all California residents, gay divorces have come on to the scene in the past decade. As the federal government continues to afford equal access to martial rights and benefits, gay divorces in California are becoming more and more similar to traditional divorces with respect to property and financial support rights.

As this area of law develops, the California legislature will have to deal with more complex parental rights issues related to gay divorce because our statutory schema related to resolving parental relationships is largely catered to the traditional marital relationship.

Contact GYL for a Consultation in San Diego County

The complexity of a divorce case depends not only on the particular issues that need to be addressed in the divorce, but also on the willingness of the parties and attorneys involved to be reasonable and open to compromise.

If your marriage has come to an end and you would like to formally dissolve it through divorce, our team can help. Led by two certified family law specialists, we provide skilled expertise in all matters concerning divorce.

Call us at (858) 371-5569 or contact our San Diego County office online to schedule an appointment.

Our Results Speak for Themselves

Over 100 5-Star Reviews Throughout Our Social Media Platforms
  • The way John presented our case was pure genius with meticulous preparation and deliberate action in court.

    “We were referred to John Griffith at GYL by our former attorney. I specifically was looking for an aggressive attorney that would yield results. John, Josh, and the firm performed flawlessly, and did ...”

    - MoMo M.
  • I would highly recommend Griffith, Young & Lass to anyone looking for ethical, honest, hard-working and skillful lawyers.

    “I would highly recommend Griffith, Young & Lass to anyone looking for ethical, honest, hard-working and skillful lawyers (I would stress these are actually rare qualities within the legal industry and ...”

    - Scott G.
  • You cannot find a better law firm.

    “I cannot say enough good things about John Griffith and this law firm. Each person i interacted with was responsive, intelligent, thoughtful and professional. Attorney Griffith worked very hard to ...”

    - Michelle P.
  • It was the best decision I’ve made yet and hopefully, it will be yours too.

    “She doesn’t back down from anyone. It was the best decision I’ve made yet and hopefully, it will be yours too.”

    - Ian R.
  • Understanding, accessible, and I was very happy with the outcome of my case. If I could give a higher rating I would!

    “Easy to work with, forthcoming about the process, set realistic expectations, and always kept cost in mind.”

    - Jennifer P.
  • All three lawyers worked together on the issues surrounding my case, which helped greatly when I was in need of answers or support.

    “The GYL team is always prompt at returning calls & emails. From personal experience, I can tell you that they will not step away from your case until it's finished.”

    - Kelsey L.
  • I couldn’t have made it without them! I highly recommend them!

    “GYL has been an extraordinary support and backing in my divorce. Being a male in the military, the process for divorce and custody is difficult. GYL was extremely helpful, and I was able to full custody of my children. That alone is such a monumental feat.”

    - Frankie S.
  • Worth every penny! My custody case went as stress-free as it could possibly be.

    “I hate seeing anyone go through custody battles but if you’re in that situation and need someone who is trustworthy and great at what they do, then I swear this is the place to get the help!”

    - Emily B.
  • I highly recommend GYL if you are ever in need of a family law attorney.

    “No matter who I corresponded with they were always knowledgeable of my case and quick to respond.”

    - Kimberley F.
  • Highly professional and supportive in a very uncertain time in my life.

    “My clearance was granted without any additional issues. I'd recommend this legal team to any Soldier needing help with their clearance.”

    - K. Brooks
  • Always willing to listen to your concerns. I would highly recommend.

    “Compassionate and kind, however, he will fight for you and your best interests. He is calm and calculated and extremely smart.”

    - Ann M.
  • Extremely helpful, responsive, and reasonable and got the job done amidst tenuous circumstances.

    “She and her team were extremely compassionate, sensitive with me while concurrently advocating strongly on my behalf.”

    - Jeremy R.
  • I felt like she was practical and knowledgeable and most importantly, she listened.

    “The professional and succinct assistance was a much-needed breath of fresh air in the maze of hurdles and complications with our family law case.”

    - David R.

Meet Our Team 

Honest. Fearless. Bold.
  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq., CFLS
  • Noelle J. Slattery, Esq.
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq.
  • Joshua Yee, Esq.
  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.
  • Lea Trojanowski, Esq.
  • Greyson Sharp, Esq.
  • Brittany Van Ryder, Esq.
  • Karissa Piralla, Esq.
  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS


    John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization. Prior to opening Griffith, Young & Lass, he worked as the managing partner of one of the largest family law firms in North County San Diego.
    John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS


    Catie E. Young excels in child custody cases and move-away trials. She has a unique approach to child custody cases and clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases. Since joining the firm, she has continuously brought her zeal and compassion to representing clients in child custody and domestic violence cases, and in December 2011, she became a partner at Griffith, Young & Lass.
    Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS


    Amy Lass, a certified family law specialist, was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting. Amy went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006.
    Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq., CFLS Shirin Asgari, Esq., CFLS


    Attorney Shirin Asgari has a broad spectrum of legal experience and has handled matters in family law, criminal law, business law, and national security law. Currently, she focuses on family law matters and is a strong advocate for the rights of her clients. She dedicates time and attention to the needs of each client and the unique circumstances their case presents.
    Shirin  Asgari, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Noelle J. Slattery, Esq. Noelle J. Slattery, Esq.


    Noelle J. Slattery, Esq. has a bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts/Acting from Emerson College in Boston and a Juris Doctor ...
    Noelle J. Slattery, Esq. Photo
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq. Eric Cowdery, Esq.


    Eric Cowdery earned his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees before earning his JD from Golden Gate University as part of the Honors Lawyering Program. He was admitted to the California Bar Association in 2013 and has been working diligently in the field ever since. Taking a personalized approach to each case, Eric Cowdery is committed to working with clients to help them through the often confusing and complex legal process of divorce.

    Eric  Cowdery, Esq. Photo
  • Joshua Yee, Esq. Joshua Yee, Esq.


    Attorney Joshua Yeereceived his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, from the University of California, San Diego. Joshua went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from University of San Francisco. His experience working with a local Certified Family Law Specialist solidified his desire to become a family law attorney. Since becoming an attorney, Josh has exclusively practiced in family law.
    Joshua  Yee, Esq. Photo
  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq. Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.


    Shaudi Malekzadeh is a Carlsbad family law attorney at Griffith, Young & Lass, advocating for the rights and interests of Southern California families in a variety of family law cases, such as child custody, alimony, spousal support, and the division of community property. She is committed to delivering effective legal representation to our clients, aggressively advocating for their legal rights, and offering compassionate legal advice.
    Shaudi  Malekzadeh, Esq. Photo
  • Lea Trojanowski, Esq. Lea Trojanowski, Esq.


    Lea Trojanowski is an attorney with Griffith, Young, and Lass, joining the firm in March 2021. Her pragmatic and level-headed approach to family law has allowed her to be successful in even the most emotional family law cases. Lea has effectively represented clients in a wide range of family law proceedings, but is particularly drawn to domestic violence restraining order cases.
    Lea  Trojanowski, Esq. Photo
  • Greyson Sharp, Esq. Greyson Sharp, Esq.


    Greyson Sharp received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from California State University, Fresno. After ...
    Greyson  Sharp, Esq. Photo
  • Brittany Van Ryder, Esq. Brittany Van Ryder, Esq.


    Brittany Van Ryder joined Griffith, Young, and Lass as a Bar Clerk in September 2022. She became an Associate Attorney at the ...
  • Karissa Piralla, Esq. Karissa Piralla, Esq.


    A San Diego native, Karissa earned a Bachelor's Degree in Communication from UCSD and a Juris Doctorate from the University ...

Why GYL? 

Turn to a Team that Does It Best
  • We're Leaders in Our Field

    From case planning to preparation, to superior courtroom presence, our clients can be sure that they will walk into the Courtroom prepared and with the best chance of success.

  • Client Centered & Results Oriented

    Our representation is tailored to the unique circumstances of each client. We deploy the GYL strategic case trajectory dynamic to ensure the best chance at success at the most reasonable cost. 

  • Brilliant, Hard-Working & Honest

    We don't believe in wasting our client's time and money. Helping people is what drives us to excel at our craft. We first identify the goals and interests of each client, we then develop an efficient and effective case plan aimed at achieving those goals.

  • Responsible & Ethical Practices

    We believe in a responsible and ethical practice and stick to our values regardless of the situation. We're transparent and don't just tell our clients what they want to hear, unless it's what we believe, even if it may deter them from moving forward. We stand by our team's expertise and will always be upfront and honest with our clients. 

Get Started Today

Fill Out the Form Below or Call 858-371-5569 to Speak with an Experienced Attorney
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.