Family law (also called matrimonial law) is an area of the law that deals with family matters and domestic relations. Family law generally concerns domestic relations and family-related matters such as marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, adoptions, paternity, guardianships, domestic abuse, surrogacy, child custody, child abduction, the dissolution of marriage and associated issues. Each state has its own set of family laws, and traveling across state borders can sometimes affect your rights and those of your family.
Family Law Attorneys
Family law attorneys represent clients seeking a divorce, annulment or legal separation, and the complicated issues that can arise as a result. Although domestic abuse is a criminal offense, some family law attorneys are skilled at handling these situations, as they are often entangled with other family law issues.
Prenuptial and post nuptial agreements identify one of the initial areas of family law. These are actual contracts entered into by individuals either prior to marriage or after marriage focusing on the characterizing of assets or addressing specific interests.
Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is the unfortunate downside of family law. It can be one of the most difficult areas for couples who are facing the termination of the marital union to address. Not only will the marriage end but so will all associated marital legal duties and responsibilities. Divorce can include annulment or legal separation.
Family law quite often addresses concerns about the legal relationship between a parent, their child, and sometimes others. This includes legal custody – the right of a parent to make decisions regarding the child’s care and development; and, physical custody – the time a parent spends with a child. Again, both legal and physical custody can be held by someone who is not a parent.
Child Support is the ongoing and periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship. As a rule of thumb, Child Support is paid to the custodial parent. The Court will consider the income of both parents upon deciding Child Support.
Also known as alimony, is a legal obligation for one spouse to provide financial support to the other spouse during separation and after marital separation or divorce. Those involved in a family law matter are often surprised to discover what they may be entitled to for support or the limitations they may face.
Family Law Divorce
Family law divorce often begins with one spouse filing a petition for dissolution which is served on the other spouse with a summons. Family law divorce is also known as “dissolution of marriage,” is a term used to describe the legal termination of a lawful marriage. In a dissolution, the court also considers the division of property, orders regarding child custody and visitation, and determines child and spousal support.
Family Law Divorce & Child Custody
Custody consists of two parts; legal and physical custody, either of which can be sole or joint custody.
Legal custody refers to a parent’s decision-making right and responsibility regarding education, religion, and non-emergency medical care.
Physical custody refers to the actual care and control of the child, where the child lives, and who will have the child for specific periods of time.
Visitation is the schedule that is either court-ordered or agreed upon by the parties for parents to interact with their child.
Family Law Divorce & Spousal Support
Also know as alimony by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a court-order requiring one spouse to pay the other money. Temporary spousal support is generally determined by each county’s support guidelines. The calculations for the amount and duration of long-term or post-judgment spousal support is determined by a number of factors.
Family Law Divorce & Temporary Support or Pendete Lite Relief
Upon agreement of the parties or upon the motion by one of the parties, the court has the authority to enter an order that deals with a wide range of issues, including custody, parenting time, child support, and spousal support. That order will remain in place until further order of the court or until the case has concluded. The court may also order one party to pay “suit money” to the other party, which is then used to pay for attorneys and experts to move the case forward to resolution. The court can order a party to pay certain bills, and can award one party the temporary exclusive use and possession of real or personal property or business interests. The court can also allocate responsibility for paying household bills between the parties.
A motion or request for pendente lite relief should be filed early in a divorce case, to ensure that financial obligations are met on a timely basis and to protect each party’s rights while the case is pending.
Family Law Divorce & Child Support
Child support is based, in general, upon the incomes of both parties, which parent has custody and how much time the non-custodial parent has with their child.
Family Law Divorce & Paternity
Parentage is determined the filing with the Court a Petition to Establish a Parental Relationship. If there is a question of whether or not true parentage exists between a father and a child, saliva and/or blood tests will be taken of the mother, child and alleged father.
Family Law Divorce & Restraining Orders
Restraining orders are available to those who suffer from domestic violence. Once granted, the victim of domestic violence can rely on law enforcement for protection from an abuser who may violate a restraining order.
Sometimes partners use restraining orders to gain an “advantage” in divorce or for child custody. Such actions can back-fire should a court determine that the victim is attempting to circumvent court processes.
Family Law Divorce & Judgment Modifications
A modification is a change of an existing order. A party wishing to modify a court order must file a motion with the court asking for the change. It is the burden of the party bringing the motion to demonstrate a change in circumstances that would justify the requested modification.
Family Law Divorce & Premarital Agreements
The premarital agreement can be used to determine a party’s interest in property before marriage. California’s community property presumption and keep separate property separate. Although, wages and earnings acquired after the date of marriage are presumed to be community property, the parties can stipulate in a premarital agreement that all wages and earnings shall be separate property.
These agreements can also be used to determine ownership in a house prior to the marriage. And, although the house will be considered the separate property of the purchaser, the community can earn an interest by making mortgage payments. In order to avoid this outcome, the parties can stipulate in a premarital agreement that the community will not earn an interest in the house as a result of community earnings contributing to the mortgage payments.
Family Law Legal Separation
Unlike a divorce, a legal separation does have a residency requirements. A legal separation does not allow the parties to remarry.
Family Law Nullity
A court finding of a nullity restores the parties to the status of unmarried persons and results in the parties being free to remarry immediately. A nullity judgment erases the marriage and its implications. It is as if the parties had never married.
Family Law Mediation
Mediation is a process that takes place with the divorcing couple meeting with a mediator to discuss and resolve issues surrounding their divorce. Both parties will need to disclose their financial data, which will allow them to make decisions regarding division of property and support payments. Additionally, both parties will be able to present their suggestions and options to each other.
The mediator’s role is to ensure that the environment is neutral and nonthreatening. The mediator may offer information and suggestions to assist the parties and to help them reach a resolution.
Court protective orders restrain a party who commits an act of domestic violence, with a restraining order or a civil harassment restraining order. Parties in a close relationship file for a domestic violence restraining order while others file for a civil harassment restraining order.
Guardianship & De Facto Parent
Individuals often hire family law attorneys to apply for guardianship. Guardianships are granted when a court finds the need for one individual to care for another individual’s well-being or property.
Read more about Juvenile Guardianship by clicking here: Juvenile Guardianship
Learn more about De Facto Parents by clicking here: De Facto Parent
Attorneys practicing family law can be very helpful to those who wish to assume the parenting role of another, usually a child, from that person’s biological or legal parent(s). Adoption not only creates a new legal relationship but also severs a prior legal relationship.
The legal right that grandparents have to see and interact with their grandchildren will most likely require the assistance of a family law attorney. Should a grandparent be denied contact with their grandchild, they will have to obtain a court order granting them the right to visitation.
An area of family law that addresses the disposition of a person’s estate. The process of anticipating and arranging for the management and disposal of a person’s estate is undertaken during the person’s life to ensure their requests are enforced after death.
Read more about Trust Administration by clicking here: Trust Administration
Discover more about Trust Contest by clicking here: Trust Contest
Learn more about California Trusts by clicking here: California Trust
Click here to learn more about California Living Trusts by clicking here: California Living Trust
Find out more about California Revocable Trusts by clicking here: Revocable Trust
Read more about California Intestacy Distribution by clicking here: California Intestacy Distribution
Learn more about California Wills by clicking here: California Will