Family Law

family law

Family LawThe process of a divorce begins with the issuance of a summons (Judicial Council Form FL 110) by the Court and the filing of a petition for dissolution (Judicial Council Form FL 100). If minor children are involved, a declaration under UCCJEA (Judicial Council Form FL 105) must also accompany the petition for dissolution. Once the other party is served, he or she will have 30 days to file and serve his/her response (Judicial Council Form FL 120) to the petition, along with the declaration under UCCJEA if appropriate.

From the time the petition is filed until the time the divorce decree is entered, either party may request the Court issue temporary orders regarding child custody, child visitation, child support, and spousal support (also known as alimony) by filing a request for order (Judicial Council Form FL 300). If domestic violence is involved, the Court may also issue restraining orders protecting one party from the other; and protecting the minor children from the abusive spouse if necessary. In a situation involving domestic violence, the Court may also order the abusive spouse to move out of the family home.

Child Custody and Visitation

In deciding the issues of child custody and visitation, the Court will base its orders on the child's best interests as outlined in California Family Code Section 3011. The Court’s primary focus will be to maintain the child’s stability and status quo while maintaining frequent and continuous contact with both parents.

Child Support

Once the Court makes an order regarding child custody and visitation, the Court may also make an order regarding child support based on the formula described in California Family Code Section 4055. The amount a parent has to pay will depend on a number of factors including:

  • Each parent's income
  • The amount of time each parent spends with each child
  • The tax filing status of each parent and the number of dependents claimed by each parent
  • Any allowable deductions claimed by each parent
  • Whether a parent pays support for children from a prior or subsequent relationship
  • Any healthcare and allowable employment related expenses incurred by either parent.
    Often, the Court will use Dissomaster to determine a parent's child support obligation. Once a Court makes an order for child support, the paying parent must continue to do so until the child attains the age of 18 years of age (or 19 years if the child still attends high school full time and is not self supporting); dies, emancipates, or further order of the court.

Spousal Support

While the divorce is still pending, either spouse may request the court to make a temporary order of spousal support from the other. In making such an order, the Court will consider the requesting party's need for support; and the supporting party's ability to pay support. The goal of temporary spousal support is to assist the supported spouse in maintaining his or her status quo while the dissolution proceedings are pending. In considering the parties' need for support and ability to pay, the Court may use Dissomaster to determine the temporary spousal support amount.

At the time of dissolution, the court may make an order of permanent spousal support. Whether permanent spousal support is ordered; the amount ordered and the duration will be based on a number of factors outlined in California Family Code Section 4320.

Divorce can be a stressful and emotional time. Once the decision to dissolve a marriage has been made, each spouse is faced with decisions on how to divide the assets and financial liability fairly, how to meet monthly financial obligations based on his or her own income, and how to help any minor children understand and adjust to their new environment. Combined with the disruption of the status quo, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed. A Divorce and how the issues of Child Custody and Visitation are handled by the parents will likely have a lasting impact on the children.

We, at Sherman & Associates collaborate with our clients and help them make choices about their own future by providing counsel, compassion and empathy. We work closely with our clients to understand their goals and objectives. We believe in providing practical solutions to help our clients reach their desired outcome with the least amount of time and expenses. We encourage the parties to retain control of their own lives and to develop a parenting plan that meets the needs of their family. If the parties are unable to agree and the issues must be decided by the Court, we will help our clients protect his or her best interests and the best interests of their children.

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