Paternity

A Paternity lawsuit is a legal proceeding that allows unmarried parents to resolve issues similar to those dealt with in a dissolution proceeding but is limited to the issues of custody and visitation and child support. Establishing “parentage” means establishing the identity of the child’s parents. A parentage action begins by one party filing...

Annulment & Legal Separation

Do I qualify for an Annulment? In order to obtain an annulment you must prove either that the marriage is void or voidable. A void marriage is an incestuous or bigamous marriage. A marriage may be voided on the grounds of the age of the petitioner (less than 18) upon marriage, prior existing marriage, unsound mind, fraud, force, or physical incapacity. Remember...

Community Property

General Information Generally, community property and obligations are those acquired during marriage and prior to separation. They could include assets acquired after separation using community funds and obligations incurred after separation to preserve community assets. Generally, they do not include items incurred or acquired after separation or those acquired...

Community vs. Separate Property

California is one of nine states that embrace the law of community property. Community property is a theory of law in which the husband and the wife are treated as co-owners of property in a form similar to a partnership. All of the property owned by married couples in California can be classified as community property, separate property, or quasi-community...

How Your Property And Debts Are Divided

As a general rule, all community property and community debt is split evenly (50-50) between the spouses upon dissolution. This of course does not mean the house or the car will be physically split in half or the spouses will have to share them. Rather, the rule states each item of community property must be evaluated in terms of its market value. Each spouse is...

Dividing The Pension Plan

Dividing The Pension Plan

In many cases the parties pension plan, 401(k), 403(b) or other retirement plan is one of the largest assets in the divorce, following the family residence. While taking an early distribution from such a plan would most likely trigger a serious tax penalty, federal law allows spouses to divide such plans without incurring any tax liability. QDROS Under the...

Employee Stock Options

Valuation, Apportionment, Tax and Other Strategic Issues Employee or Executive Stock Options are becoming increasingly more popular forms of compensation in the work place. Understanding how to value and transfer Stock Options are particularly important when dividing marital property. Under California Law, assets acquired during the marriage are community...

Long Term Spousal Support

In marriages of less than ten years, the statute provides a presumption that support should be granted for half the length of the marriage. The California legislator has enacted a statute which indicates that when permanent support is established at the time of trial, it is an abuse of discretion for the court to set a future termination date if the marriage is...

Is It Possible To Terminate Long-Term Spousal Support?

Many clients approach me and ask if it is possible to terminate spousal support. Often times these people were previously married for a long duration and have been paying a significant amount of support for several years, and sometimes for many years. Often times these people were told by their prior counsel that they would have to pay spousal support for many...

Modification Of Spousal Support

Spousal support awards and agreements are modifiable throughout the support period except as otherwise provided by agreement of the parties. However, unlike child support, the court’s continuing power to modify spousal support is dependent on the terms of the court’s order. Unless jurisdiction to award support has been reserved, post-judgment spousal...

Termination Of Spousal Support

Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as “lifetime spousal support.” In many cases where the court has ordered a long-term support obligation, it is still possible to step-down and ultimately terminate spousal support over time. It is important for the supporting spouse to ensure that at the time of Judgment that the court issue a...

Child Custody

Few issues in dissolution of marriage are more emotionally charged than the issue of child custody. The court is customarily charged with determining what is in the best interest of the child. In a contest between two parents, the outcome determinative question is whether it is in the best interest of the child to be placed with mom, or with dad primarily and...

Enforcement Of Orders

Enforcement Of Orders

Many remedies are available to enforce court orders, both with respect to custody, as well as with respect to child and spousal support orders. Some of the most common of these remedies include: Contempt: A party subject to a valid order who with knowledge of the order and the ability to comply with the order, fails to comply with the terms of the order, is...

Modification of Orders

Under California Law, certain orders may be modified after a final judgment has been made. There are three areas in which post-judgment modifications are commonplace– Child Custody/Visitation Orders, Child Support orders, and Spousal Support orders. The court will not Modify the Property Division that has been Adjudicated by a Final Judgment, however,...

What You Should Know About Wage Withholding

Federal and California law both require that all orders regarding child support include an order for a wage assignment. This requirement is designed to ensure prompt payment of child support. A wage withholding or wage assignment is utilized to deduct court-ordered child support from a party, generally the non-custodial parent. Once the employer receives Notice...

Physical vs. Legal Custody

People frequently ask about the difference between Physical and Legal Custody. Physical custody: Physical custody refers to that parent or parents who has the physical responsibility for the care of the child. Joint physical custody” means that each of the parents shall have significant periods of physical custody, although parents can share joint custody...

The Move-Away Cases

You Can’t Just Pick Up And Move Any Longer In recent years, under the case Marriage of Burgess, the “primary custodial parent” had the presumptive right to re-locate to a different geographic area with the minor children. However, under a recent California Supreme Court case, in Marriage of LaMusga (pronounced “La Moo-shay”), has...

Re-Establishing Visitation

It’s a safe bet that every parent wanted to be with his or her children during this past holiday season.  Unfortunately, it is just as certain that many were unable to be with their children because of a one-sided custody arrangement. As usual, I received many calls from parents asking for advise as to what they could do to re-establish a regular custody...

730 Psychological Evaluations

Frequently a psychological evaluation and more in depth study is conducted. The psychological evaluator then submits each of the parents and perhaps the child or children to a battery of psychological tests as well as clinical observations. The determination is made first as to whether either parent suffers from any psychological dysfunction. Then, the...

Domestic Violence And Custody

Under a California (Family Code Section 3044) the state states policy regarding custody and domestic violence. Under the law, if the court finds a party to have been a perpetrator of Domestic Violence within the past 5 years there is a very strong presumption that the perpetrator should not share Physical or Legal Custody with the victim-parent. Thus, if the...

Child Abduction

What Is Child Abduction? A child abduction occurs when someone takes, entices away, keeps, withholds or conceals a child in violation of a custody or visitation order. Can A Family Member Abduct Their Own Child? Yes. Not only does child abduction involve violation of Family Court, Juvenile Court and/or Probate Court orders, but it also involves a FELONY...

California Dissolution Timeline

A dissolution proceeding is initiated by the filing of a Petition by one party. The Petition is then served (either personally or by mail) upon the responding party. The party originally filing the Petition is known as the “Petitioner” and the other party is known as the “Respondent”. The date of service of the Petition on the Respondent...

Steps To Protect Yourself During Divorce

Steps To Protect Yourself During Divorce

When you first learn that you’re being divorced, it may be a long-expected event or it may come as a complete surprise. Either way, there are certain steps you should take to protect yourself, your children and your finances. This does not mean stripping the family home and bank accounts bare. You should, however, take reasonable steps to safeguard your...

Divorce Mediation

WHAT IS DIVORCE MEDIATION? Divorce mediation is an alternative to fighting in court with your spouse through attorneys. Instead of court, parties who decide to use mediation work with a neutral third party mediator to negotiate issues concerning child custody and support, spousal support, and division of assets and debts. The mediator will help you to resolve...

Your Day in Court

Most dissolution cases involve at least one court hearing. The following information will assist you in knowing what to expect when you go to court. Many family law courts are run less formally than other types of civil litigation. However, family law is a civil proceeding, and certain formalities and rules are involved. It is a good idea to get a good...

Divorce and the Military

Military divorces can differ from standard family law cases when it comes to residence requirements for filing, obtaining process service upon an active duty spouse, compliance with military rules and regulations, and the division of a military pension. It is necessary to personally serve the active duty member with a summons and petition for dissolution of...

When Can I Remarry?

Under California law there is a statutory “waiting period” of six months before the parties to a dissolution proceeding are legally returned to the status of single persons. The parties may not remarry until this waiting period has expired. The six-month period begins on the date the respondent was served with the appropriate documents or appeared in...