Family Law Practice Areas

  • To get a divorce in California, you or your spouse or domestic partner must be a resident of the state of California for six months, and a resident of the county in which you file the divorce for at least three months. California is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means the most common ground for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” Many people believe it takes six months to get divorced because of the six month waiting period from the time the petition is served. However, the process can take significantly longer when a case proceeds to trial. In the alternative, if you and your spouse reach an agreement, you can finalize the divorce judgment and file it with the court before the six month window, and the date on which the divorce will ultimately be final will be stamped on the front of the judgment.
  • Legal separation may be the appropriate choice for couples who wish to dissolve their joint financial lives, but are not ready to dissolve their marital status for various reasons. A legal separation judgment is similar to a divorce judgment, but reserves jurisdiction, or the court’s power, over the issue of marital status for a later date.
  • In certain cases, it turns out a marriage was not legally valid, based on specific circumstances, and an annulment may be appropriate. We can assist you in determining whether one of these specific circumstances applies in your case, and whether you are still within the statute of limitations to file an action.
  • Summary dissolution is a much simpler process than the divorce process, and may be used when your marriage lasted fewer than five years, when you do not have significant assets or debts, when you do not have children, and when your spouse is willing to cooperate in the process. Contact us if you believe this may be an option, and we can help you determine whether you qualify for a summary dissolution instead of a divorce.
  • When children are born out of wedlock, the process is similar to a divorce, with similar paperwork and procedures. The court will need to first establish the legal parents of the child, and then determine what custodial arrangement is in the child’s best interest. Through this process, the court may also make child support orders, orders for reimbursement of expenses for pregnancy and birth of the child, and make attorney fee orders payable by one parent to the other.
  • Child support in California is calculated using a computer-based guideline formula, which takes into account the parties’ respective incomes, custodial timeshare, deductions, and tax consequences, among other things. There are some cases which may warrant a deviation from the guideline, and various factors that can affect the guideline calculation. We can assist you in calculating the guideline formula, and advise you whether a deviation from guideline may be appropriate in your case.
  • Spousal support after the end of a marriage is calculated based on consideration of a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, the parties’ expenses, each party’s earning capacity, a spouse’s impairment of earning capacity to focus on household duties and to raise minor children, whether domestic violence occurred during the marriage, the parties’ respective assets and incomes, tax consequences, and the balance of the hardships between the parties. Although there is technically no “guideline” for spousal support as there is for child support, often while the divorce is pending, the court will calculate spousal support using the computer-based formula. The length of spousal support may differ depending on whether the marriage is a long-term or short-term marriage.
  • Our firm is experienced in dividing complex estates, including division of different types of businesses and tracing of a spouse’s separate property interest, division of different types of retirement accounts, allocation of debts, calculation of credits and charges, and separate property tracings. We can direct you to the appropriate expert for your case and guide you through the process of business valuation, separate property tracings, Moore/Marsden calculations (to determine the community property interest in a separate property home), marital balance sheets, and cash flow.
  • Sometimes the reason for a divorce is because of intimate partner violence in a marriage. Sometimes it’s situational, based on the emotions running high at the time of the break-up. Domestic violence is not defined just by “physical violence,” but by many different types of conduct. We can help you determine whether a domestic violence restraining order is appropriate in your case, and the likelihood of success based on your specific circumstances.
  • Child custody and visitation is based on a judicial determination of what custodial schedule is in the best interest of your child. An attorney who is focused on your family’s long-term goals can help you avoid unnecessary conflict, and assist in establishing a healthy co-parenting relationship for the benefit of your family. In some cases, litigation is the only way to protect your child’s best interest. But it is not the only way, and should be considered along with other approaches that be more effective based on your specific scenario.

Appellate Practice Areas

  • The statement of decision is a document setting forth the court’s factual and legal bases for its rulings following an evidentiary hearing involving findings of fact. The statement of decision process is one if the least understood processes in family law; however, it can be necessary to preserve your rights on appeal. The process is highly technical and rule driven, and the timelines are tight. If you think you may need one, make sure to schedule an appointment with appellate counsel prior to the conclusion of your hearing, or you may end up waiving your right to request one, which may jeopardize your ability to appeal the court’s ruling.
  • There are several post-trial motions that may be available to challenge the trial court’s ruling in the trial court, before the case ever goes up on appeal. Some examples are a motion for new trial, a motion to vacate the court’s ruling based on an error in law or decision unsupported by the facts, a motion for reconsideration of new evidence unavailable at the time of the hearing, and a motion to reopen the evidence for good cause. The timelines are tight, so be sure to contact appellate counsel immediately, on the day of your ruling, if you think you may need post-judgment assistance. Sometimes, a post-judgment motion can resolve an issue in the trial court, saving the time and expense of appeal. Other times, it may be a strategic way to preserve your record to ensure the best chance of success on appeal.
  • An appeal may be brought to challenge an error in a family court ruling where there was insufficient evidence to support the ruling, where the court abused its discretion, or where the court made an error in law. The process is done on written briefing, followed by a brief oral argument at the court of appeal before a panel of three justices. The timelines are statutorily based, and once the timeline to bring your appeal is missed, it cannot be corrected. Promptly contact appellate counsel upon receiving your ruling if you believe the trial court may have made an error in your case.
  • Extraordinary writs are brought to challenge an error in a family court ruling where there is some emergency or irreparable harm warranting immediate relief. It is a lengthy document and takes time to prepare, but if it is not prepared within a short window of time, it has very little chance of success. If you think you may need a writ filed, order the reporter’s transcripts in your case immediately, and schedule an appointment with appellate counsel right away.
  • A petition for rehearing is a request that the court re-hear an appellate case after an unfavorable ruling on appeal. It must be prepared within a very short period of time, so do not wait to reach out to appellate counsel.
  • A petition for review is a request that the California Supreme Court review the appellate court’s decision following an unfavorable ruling on appeal. Unlike the district courts of appeal, which must review all timely, non-frivolous appeals brought before them, the California Supreme Court is a discretionary court, and may decide whether your case warrants review. An appellate attorney can assist you in determining whether your case warrants review by our high court.

Mediation Practice Areas

  • Under appropriate circumstances, litigation can be avoided. Our firm can assist you and your spouse in reaching resolution of your divorce and finalizing an agreement without the need to step inside a courtroom.
  • Some issues can be worked out informally between the parties with a little assistance from a mediator, which can save significant time and legal fees. Issues that may be appropriate for single issue mediation are support modifications, visitation schedule adjustments, holiday schedules, or division of furniture, furnishings, and appliances. We can help you resolve these relatively small, but time consuming issues in an informal setting, so you can save limited court time for the bigger issues.

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