The legal judgment of divorce terminates your marriage. The divorce process requires division of property and consideration of support of the other party. If you have children, it will also cover visitation and child support issues. New thinking in the Family Law area has led to innovations to benefit clients. You have options for getting through the process including mediation, collaborative law, and limited scope representation as alternatives to traditional divorce litigation. These alternatives can be useful ways to minimize expenses and defuse emotion when you are faced with a divorce; there are benefits and drawbacks to each process. Schedule a consultation to discuss your options and choose the process best suited to your situation.
Legal Separation & Divorce
Divorce doesn't happen by accident and it rarely happens suddenly and without warning. More frequently, couples have been dancing around the prospect of divorce for some time, hoping they can avoid it. Or trying to time it properly. Being informed about the divorce process, your rights and obligations as it proceeds, and different methods for obtaining a divorce can be helpful in making the right choice for you. Schedule an appointment to discuss your individual situation and options.
Serving clients and families throughout the San Francisco Bay Area
Child Custody, Visitation & Support
If you have a child but are not married to the other parent, a paternity action can establish whether a person is or is not a parent. When parentage is established (or stipulated to by the other parent) the court can determine how the child will be parented and who should help pay for the support of the child.
You may know that California is a community property state which means that assets acquired during the marriage are jointly owned by both parties and, in case of divorce, must be divided equally. Property owned before marriage and brought into the marriage by each partner is separate property unless comingled and transmuted. Other property, such as property acquired by inheritance, is separate property even if the parties are married when it is received. Separate property, community property and transmutation are all terms of art which require careful interpretation. Careful research, planning, documentation and, in some cases, the involvement of outside financial experts is necessary to advocate for and obtain the correct division of property in each case.
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If you and your spouse or partner are parents the termination of your marriage will involve addressing the needs and interests of the children. The questions presented include:
(a) legal custody, physical custody and visitation. Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions about a child's health, education and welfare. Parents can share joint legal custody or one parent can have sole legal custody. Physical custody can also be shared or awarded to just one parent. When joint physical custody is awarded, each parent cares for the child for significant periods of times. In other cases, sole physical custody is awarded to one parent; the child lives with that parent and visits with the other parent. In all cases the focus is on what is in the best interest of the child; their needs may vary over time making changes to visitation or custody orders appropriate.
One of the many financial issues a divorce presents is whether one party will pay the other spousal support. Who pays, how much and how long are case-specific questions each time. Some of the many factors involved are the duration of the marriage, whether both spouses worked outside of the home for pay and for how much, and the ability of each party to maintain the marital standard of living after the divorce, among others. Consult with your attorney to carefully calculate how spousal support issues should be handled in your case.
Domestic violence affects more of us than it should. If you are in immediate physical danger, please call 911 and take whatever steps you can to protect your safety and that of your children. A domestic violence restraining order is a civil order that protects you from abuse from an intimate partner or family member. Discuss whether your case warrants a temporary or permanent domestic violence restraining order and the process for obtaining that order with your attorney.
(b) child support. California law requires both parents to support their minor children until they finish the 12th grade or turn 19, whichever comes first. Child support guidelines contain a complex formula for determining the amounts paid for child support; these are usually determined by computer program. Although guideline findings in each case are mandatory the court can deviate up or down from guideline child support in appropriate cases as long as it is guided by the best interest of the children.