What is Family Law?
This area of law deals with matters involving marriage and children including agreements before marriage, divorce, child custody, and adoptions.
Why do I need an attorney for a divorce?
Although the courts essentially view the divorce process as the breakup of a partnership similar to a business partnership divorce often, understandably, has a very emotional impact for one partner, if not both. The courts are interested in establishing dissolution where assets are divided equitably and fairly. Spouses may be agreeable, but the scene can change very quickly when emotions kick in. Legal expertise, as well as caring counsel and being kept well informed by legal professionals who understand the pitfalls and how to avoid them, makes for a smoother, quicker outcome.
There are established guidelines set by the State of California regarding asset division and it is essential that an attorney with experience represent the divorcing parties.
How are property and debts divided at the time of the divorce?
Generally, community property is divided equally under California law, and separate property usually remains with the spouse who actually owns or inherited it. Debts incurred during the time of the marriage are community property debts and are generally also divided equally. The best possible course of action is for the divorcing couple to make these decisions regarding division of property and assets themselves. Because of the the volatility and emotional toll that sometimes surrounds divorce, it is not uncommon for this sometimes to be handled through mediation. The last resort would be to have these decisions made by a judge. California is a community property state, where all property is classified as community (owned by both spouses) or as the property of one spouse alone. Community property means all earnings earned during, and everything acquired during the time of the marriage.
How can child custody affect a divorce?
Child custody is one of the terms of a divorce if children are involved. This can be a complex and emotional area and an attorney can help explore the options of custody and visitation and the legal standards that apply. This includes the subject of primary and secondary physical custody and visitation. It is important that the issues are fully explored, from both a legal and practical standpoint, so that the most optimum solution is decided upon for the welfare of all parties. Decisions regarding children need to be made in as businesslike a manner as is possible, so that the welfare of the child is the foremost concern and an attorney is essential in exploring options to produce this result.
What are custody options?
There are numerous options and divorcing parents need to learn about the custody and visitation options. A well informed attorney is the best source for information and helping all concerned to understand the available options. An attorney who you are comfortable communicating with is essential in order to fully answer your questions and help you decide what is best for you and your children.
The responsibilities of day-to-day care and decisions regarding the child's activities and the right to do so fall in separate categories Physical and Legal custody.
Physical Custody refers to the actual living arrangement for the child and all that goes with the daily care of the child. Legal Custody includes being the responsible party in deciding and directing the child's activities. This may include such things as religious upbringing, health care decisions, discipline and choice of schools, to name a few.
Joint Custody means that both parents share equally in the responsibilities of parenting and decision making regarding the child's upbringing and welfare. Often this is a matter of sharing both physical and legal custody, although this is not always the case.
Sole Custody refers to an agreement (sometimes decided by the court because of abusive treatment of the child by one parent) where one parent has sole right to have the child live with him or her. This parent is the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent may only be granted limited or supervised visitation.
How can an attorney help with an adoption?
An attorney can help you determine adoption procedures in each state as they differ from state to state. There are many kinds of adoption ranging from infant and newborn adoption, wherein the pregnant woman or new mother are matched with adoptive parents, to adoption of step children as well as adoptions through agencies handling children of all ages and special needs. There are agencies to help with matching child and prospective parents, and it is helpful to have an attorney who can assist with the legalities of adoption.