FAMILY LAW

 When adult relationships end, it can be a sad, difficult, and complicated time. This becomes a family law issue if there is a marriage, domestic partnership, or there are children involved. Handling the disentanglement of all of these issues can be overwhelming, but it does not have to be. At Moore Law for Children, our goal is to help you through this difficult time with dignity and grace with a focus to achieving your goals for your future life.

HYPERLINKS to DISSOLUTION, PARENTAGE, MEDIATION, and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

 

 

DISSOLUTION

What are my options when it comes to ending my marriage or domestic partnership? – In California, there are multiple ways to end a marriage or domestic partnership. These are: annulment, dissolution (divorce), or legal separation. Then there are parentage orders for people who have children together but were never married.

ANNULMENT

In order to file for and have an annulment granted, there are specific legal requirements that must be met. If you think you may qualify for an annulment, call us and we can assist you.

DISSOLUTION/DIVORCE

A Petition for and Request for Dissolution of Marriage or domestic partnership triggers the start of the divorce proceedings.

LEGAL SEPARATION

If you are not yet ready to file for divorce, you have the option of filing for legal separation. Legal separation will maintain your marital status while going through the division of the community assets and debts as well as resolving any potential custody and support issues at hand.   If there are some other concerns regarding immigration issues or health insurance coverage, this is an option to consider.

Dissolution, Legal Separation, and Annulment actions can each include various issues such as division of assets and debts, spousal support, child support, child custody and child visitation.

Date of Separation – California is a community property state which means the property attained during the marriage belongs to the community – the spouses. For both dissolution and legal separation matters, the timeframe of the community is from the date of marriage until the date of separation. Your date of separation is not the date when your marriage is legally ended but instead the date when you or your spouse have made it clear that the relationship is over.

It is extremely difficult to come to the decision to end a relationship. Given the potential financial concerns which may not allow for you to live apart. You are not required to live separately to be legally separated. Instead, your words and actions can demonstrate that the marriage has ended.

Your date of separation is a vital aspect of the divorce case and if there is disagreement on this issue, it will be one of the first issues that needs to be resolved.

A definitive date of separation is necessary for the division of assets and debts as well as for spousal support purposes.

Division of Assets and Debts

Any income or assets acquired during the marriage are presumed to be community property. There are methods for overcoming this presumption. The period of “during marriage” is from your date of marriage to your date of separation. Additionally, any debt acquired during marriage is presumed to be community debt. Community property assets and debts must be divided during your divorce and the division must be equitable. In California, this results in an equal division of assets and debts. Achieving an equal division of their property is different in every case.

Spousal Support

Spousal support is intended to assist in balancing the parties’ incomes post-separation and divorce in order to allow the lower earning spouse time to become self-supporting. It should be noted that the amount of spousal support awarded is not an equal division of the prior household income. There are two types of spousal support orders – pendente lite and permanent support.

Pendente Lite support is an initial support order. A permanent support order is the final judgment support order. The permanent support order is based on a review of the facts which may include:

  • the age and health of the parties
  • the earning capacity of the supported spouse
  • the need for further training and education for the supported spouse
  • the assets and obligations of the parties
  • the ability of the supporting spouse to pay support
  • domestic violence between the parties or against the party’s child(ren)
  • the martial standing of living, and
  • the length of the marriage.

The length of the parties’ marriage is important because it will affect the length of the final support order.

A marriage lasting less than 10 years is considered a short-term marriage. In a short term-marriage, the court will order spousal support for a reasonable length of time. A reasonable length of time is considered to be approximately half the length of the marriage. For example, if you were married for 8 years, the support order would last for 4 years. However, the Court may order spousal support for a longer period of time if there are extenuating factors within your case.

A long-term marriage is defined as a marriage of ten years or more. This does not mean that spousal support will last forever if you were married for ten or more years. It merely means the Court cannot end a spouse’s ability to seek to modify spousal support without both parties’ agreement.

So, with both short-term and long-term support orders, either spouse will be able to request to modify (pay less or receive more) based on a change of circumstances. Some examples of changes of circumstance include:

– a decrease in the supporting party’s income

– an increase in the supported party’s income

– retirement

– a loss of child support

– the supported spouse’s refusal to attempt to become self-supporting within a reasonable time, or

– cohabitation by the supported party.

Child Support

Each parent has a duty to financially support their child. A child support order is for the maintenance and care of your child while in the other parties’ care. The amount of the child support order is typically based on a guideline calculation. The three main factors that the Court will look at with guideline child support are:

  • your income
  • the other parties’ income
  • and the custodial schedule.

In addition to base child support, the Courts can provide for child support add on expenses in certain situations such as:

  1. Child care costs related to your job, or necessary education or training for your job;
  2. Reasonable unreimbursed/uninsured health care costs for the children
  3. Costs related to the education or special needs of the minor; and
  4. Travel costs for visitation.

Of course, you may agree to additional support.

If a party has been ordered to pay support and has failed to do so, you have the option to request the Court to seek enforcement of the order and have the support ordered amount garnished from their wages in order to avoid future payment issues.

Custody and Visitation

The largest transition for parties going through a divorce or parentage action is adjusting to the new normal that comes with a child custody and visitation order. This is also called a Parenting Plan. Child custody is broken into two types of custody – legal and physical. Legal custody has to do with the decision making regarding your child’s health, education, and welfare. Unless significant circumstances arise, the Courts will look to maintain a joint legal custody order. Regardless of your legal custody order, as a parent you have a right to access to records pertaining to a minor child, including medical, dental, and school records.

The other form is physical custody. Physical custody has to do with where the child is physical residing. An equal 50/50 parenting schedule is not required for a joint physical custody order. Joint physical custody only requires significant parent time.

If you and your co-parent are unable to come to an agreement regarding your child’s custody and visitation schedule, the Court will make orders regarding these issues. In making these orders, the Court may look to and engage the services of experts to assist the Court in fact finding for its final determination. Some of these services include child custody investigations by the Family Court Services Office, evaluations conducted by court appointed child custody evaluator experts, and/or minor’s counsel.   At Moore Law for Children, our focus is your child’s best interests and working with you to find your unique plan for your needs.

Attorney’s Fees and Costs

The Court can order one party to pay the attorney’s fees and costs of the other party in certain situations. Attorney’s Fees can be ordered either due to a need or as a sanction. Need based attorney’s fees occur when the Court finds there is a disparity in income and one party has the ability to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees. For these need based attorney’s fees, some of the factors the Court will be considering include Income & Expense Declarations of each party and the billing and declaration of your attorney. The Court can make these need based attorney fees orders either when you have an attorney or in order for you to obtain an attorney.

The Court also has the ability to order sanctions. Sanctions are ordered when the court finds a party is frustrating the settlement or resolution and needlessly increasing the litigation costs. You may be eligible to request one or both of these fee orders within your case. Moore Law for Children can help you assess whether you may be able to obtain fees in your case.

 

 

PARENTAGE ACTIONS

A Parentage action is started when the two parents were never married to each other. The purpose of a parentage action can be to establish the parent-child relationship, obtain a custody or visitation order, or to obtain a child support order.

Establishing Parentage

If you are not listed on your child’s birth certificate, you still have options. By filing a Petition to Determine Parental Relationship, you can ask the Court to order genetic testing or to make a finding of presumed parentage declaring you the parent of the minor child. You can also make the request that your child’s birth certificate be amended in order to include the other parent’s name and/or request a name change for the minor child.

People who have been in non-marital relationships have to go through Civil Court for any division of property they acquired together and if they want to attempt to ask for some kind of support known as “palimony.”

Child Support

Each parent has a duty to financially support their child. A child support order is for the maintenance and care of your child while in the other parties’ care. The amount of the child support order is typically based on a guideline calculation. The three main factors that the Court will look at with guideline child support are:

  • your income
  • the other parties’ income
  • and the custodial schedule.

In addition to base child support, the Courts can provide for child support add on expenses in certain situations such as:

  1. Child care costs related to your job, or necessary education or training for your job;
  2. Reasonable unreimbursed/uninsured health care costs for the children
  3. Costs related to the education or special needs of the minor; and
  4. Travel costs for visitation.

Of course, you may agree to additional support.

If a party has been ordered to pay support and has failed to do so, you have the option to request the Court to seek enforcement of the order and have the support ordered amount garnished from their wages in order to avoid future payment issues.

Custody and Visitation

The largest transition for parties going through a divorce or parentage action is adjusting to the new normal that comes with a child custody and visitation order. This is also called a Parenting Plan. Child custody is broken into two types of custody – legal and physical. Legal custody has to do with the decision making regarding your child’s health, education, and welfare. Unless significant circumstances arise, the Courts will look to maintain a joint legal custody order. Regardless of your legal custody order, as a parent you have a right to access to records pertaining to a minor child, including medical, dental, and school records.

The other form is physical custody. Physical custody has to do with where the child is physical residing. An equal 50/50 parenting schedule is not required for a joint physical custody order. Joint physical custody only requires significant parent time.

If you and your co-parent are unable to come to an agreement regarding your child’s custody and visitation schedule, the Court will make orders regarding these issues. In making these orders, the Court may look to and engage the services of experts to assist the Court in fact finding for its final determination. Some of these services include child custody investigations by the Family Court Services Office, evaluations conducted by court appointed child custody evaluator experts, and/or minor’s counsel.   At Moore Law for Children, our focus is your child’s best interests and working with you to find your unique plan for your needs.

Attorney’s Fees and Costs

The Court can order one party to pay the attorney’s fees and costs of the other party in certain situations. Attorney’s Fees can be ordered either due to a need or as a sanction. Need based attorney’s fees occur when the Court finds there is a disparity in income and one party has the ability to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees. For these need based attorney’s fees, some of the factors the Court will be considering include Income & Expense Declarations of each party and the billing and declaration of your attorney. The Court can make these need based attorney fees orders either when you have an attorney or in order for you to obtain an attorney.

The Court also has the ability to order sanctions. Sanctions are ordered when the court finds a party is frustrating the settlement or resolution and needlessly increasing the litigation costs. You may be eligible to request one or both of these fee orders within your case. Moore Law for Children can help you assess whether you may be able to obtain fees in your case.

 

 

MEDIATION

Mediation is a great option to come to a resolution outside of Court and reduce the expense and time involved in the litigation process. During mediation, .Moore Law for Children does not represent either side, but assists as a neutral and objective third party to inform both sides of the current law on the issues at hand and assist in reaching an agreement in your matter.

Mediation can be used for the entire divorce or it can be a great option for specific issues in the divorce, such as creating a parenting plan that works for your family. We look forward to assisting both of you through the legal process and help you reach and draft your agreements

 

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

If you or your child are being abused, you have options available to you. If abuse is occurring, you should protect yourself and seek immediate assistance of law enforcement and obtain a restraining order.

With police contact, you may receive an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) from the police or a Criminal Protective Order (CPO) from the criminal court. You may also file for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO)in Family Law Court on your own behalf. You should consider this even if you have a criminal restraining order, especially if you have a child.

You are eligible to apply for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order if you have the following relationship to the abuser:

  • You are or were married or registered domestic partners;
  • You live or used to live together;
  • You are related by blood, married, or adoption;
  • You are or were dating or engaged to be married;
  • You are the parents of minor children;
  • You are related to the abuser such as parents, siblings, grandparents to each other.

You can seek a Domestic Violence Restraining Order for a variety of forms of abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological or emotional abuse. You can request child custody/visitation and child support orders within your Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order.

If you have been living with abuse in your or your child’s life, Moore Law for Children can help you through the process to seek protective orders for you and your loved ones.   There are resources and help available. Do not wait any longer to seek the help you need. Call us now and click here for resources for domestic violence.

 

 

Domestic Violence Resources:
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