A person doesn’t normally expect to find themselves in a legal battle. But, many people land in one, whether it’s their choice or the choice was made for them. The most common reason is divorce, and all that is tied to it, such as child custody, child support, alimony, and at times, restraining orders. Regardless of who initiated it, or what the battle is, dealing with family law in California can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know the rules.
The anxiety and stress of a legal battle can be diminished significantly if you have an experienced family law attorney, who is well-versed in California law. They will be able to manage the complexities of family law, so you can focus more on moving on.
Advice on Family Law in California
The first way a family law attorney can help you is to provide advice, which stems from experience in varied and complicated legal battles. A large portion of the stress involved in a legal fight is not knowing what the options are and the legal process that will help reach your desired goals.
An experienced attorney can provide exceptional advice on the best options possible for your situation. Once you have the advice, they can then help you with the process, based on your needs and desires.
Divorce in California
Divorce in any state, or for any reason, is not a simple, one-size-fits-all process. For example, each state has their own laws. So, while a family member in Nevada might want to give you advice based on their experience, it might not do any good because the laws vary from state to state. Even someone within the state of California might not be able to give you sound advice, if they don’t know all the laws for a divorce in California, for example, the grounds for filing a divorce. California allows for two types of grounds for divorce to be filed: Irreconcilable Differences and Incurable Insanity.
- Irreconcilable Differences – In California, this is considered a “no-fault” divorce. As the most popular type, this is when both involved parties have agreed that the breakdown of marriage is unsalvageable, and any attempts to reconcile have failed, or attempts to reconcile are not in the best interest of the parties involved.
- Incurable Insanity – Rarely implemented, this California option requires proof of at least one party involved to be determined medically insane, without chance of being cured.
There are other requirements when filing for divorce in California, such as residency. The person filing must prove residency in the state for a minimum of 6 months, and in the county where they are filing, for a minimum of 90 days.
These are all things that a skilled family law attorney can handle, while the actual filing might be the most complicated part of the process, it still adds unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Dividing the Property and Debt
According to the California Courts (Judicial Branch), there are two categories that property will be considered in a California divorce, “community” and “separate”. An attorney can help you decipher what property and debt will fall under each category, based on California law.
- Community Property – This is property and debt that is acquired by either spouse during the marriage. It could include physical property, current finances, and future retirement plans, credit card bills, auto loans, and more, regardless if either party was employed or not and who is named on the title or bill. There are a few exceptions, such as student loans. All community property is typically divided equally.
- Separate Property – This is a property that was already acquired before the marriage, both physical property and debt. It could include homes, loans, and inheritance.
However, it’s very complicated because, in California, even property acquired before marriage can, at times, turn into community property. For example, if a person owns a home prior to marriage, but the spouse makes any payments during the marriage, that could change ownership and division. It’s referred to as “commingling,” and just one of the complications that can arise. An experienced family law attorney will know how to help you.
One of the biggest battles in a divorce and even post-divorce is child custody. Even though California follows the “best interest of the children” theory, that’s not always easy to determine for the court. However, a good family law attorney will make sure the best interest of the children is upheld.
When the parents can’t agree on custody, the California courts will determine custody of the minor children in the following manners:
- Joint Legal Custody – This is when both legal parents share, equally, all responsibilities and rights
regarding the child’s well-being, including decisions on health, education, and overall well-being. For example, both parents would have a say in which school the children will attend, medical decisions, and extracurricular activities.
- Sole Legal Custody – One parent only will be granted the ability to make decisions regarding the children’s health, education, and overall well-being.
- Joint Physical Custody – Despite how this sounds, this does not necessarily mean there will be equal parenting time. It allows for both parents to continue regular parenting time, including living arrangements. A court will make the final decision if the parents cannot agree to a schedule.
- Sole Physical Custody – This is when one parent is considered a “residential parent,” with the other parent having visitation rights.
Custody battles can be one of the most emotional and stressful fights in family law. An experienced family law attorney can alleviate some of that stress by fighting the battle for you, using their knowledge to accomplish what is best.
Perhaps the next most stressful and problematic area is child support. With California law, both parents have rights to obtain child support from the other, in order to best provide for the children. An attorney who knows California law will fight to get a fair agreement.
The child support laws in California are complex, which is why a family law attorney is highly recommended. They will take a look at each case individually to gauge how much, and who should be paying child support, then fight to have the court approve it.
Restraining Orders and Orders of Protection
There are times during a marriage, separation, or divorce, when one of the parties involved does something to instill fear in the other. This could include harassment, stalking, or physical violence. If the court agrees there is reasonable fear, a legal document may be granted, ordering the party to stay a certain distance away. On the flip side, there is also the chance someone will be falsely accused. If one party wants to damage the other in court, to gain rights for custody or financially, they could make false allegations against the other party. In both cases, a trained and experienced family law attorney will work diligently to make sure the parties are as safe as possible.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways a family law attorney can help you or a loved one. It is never easy, and often not wise, to go it alone. At the very least, they can provide impartial advice. Contact the skilled family law attorneys in Oceanside, CA, by calling Fischer & Van Thiel today.