Family law disagreements are tough to grapple with, due to the sensitive nature of the issues involved. While most forms of legal disputes cause tension to the people involved, family law disagreements seem to cause even more tension. Nonetheless, the California courts process hundreds of thousands of family law cases every year. In the fiscal year of 2015-2016, around 400,000 total family law cases were processed by the courts, and close to half of these filings had something to do with the topic of marriage.
In order to get the best possible result in their family law case, many people hire a lawyer with a specialty in family law. This lawyer will talk with you one on one in order to identify and select a legal strategy that works best for your individual case. Also, this attorney can take on the difficult aspects of completing a family law case, not only saving you hours of time that can be better spent doing other things, but also the headache associated with complicated legal matters. To talk with a family law legal expert in your area, call 619-610-7425 to connect with a National City attorney who has represented clients in hundreds of family law cases.
Every family law case is different. Yet, there do exist a few main topics that arise in family law disagreements, which are touched upon in the passages below.
Legal Framework for Marriage
In California, marriage is defined as a legally verified relationship between two people, and at least in California, marriage is available equally to same-sex partners and heterosexual partners. To get married in the state, you don’t even need to be a California resident. For a marriage to be registered in California, the only real requirement is that the wedding actually takes place somewhere in California. It is also not required for you to hold an elaborate marriage ceremony, but it is required that the marriage be solemnized. Each spouse has to express their desire to get married to an officiant who has been licensed. Also, the officiant has to sign a marriage license confirming this fact, as does at least one witness to the marriage. If you don’t want to hold a ceremony at all, you can actually get married in the county clerk’s office, as the San Diego County clerk’s office regularly holds informal wedding ceremonies.
After the completion of the ceremony and the signing of the documents, the marriage license must be reviewed by the county clerk. If everything on the license checks out, then the couple is registered as married in California’s legal record, and they receive a marriage certificate verifying that fact. A marriage certificate can be revoked, however, if the marriage is found to be invalid. This can happen if it’s discovered that the participants in the marriage are blood related, one of the participants was already married to another, or if one of the participants was coerced.
Those looking to obtain a legally verified relationship status other than marriage can choose to engage in a domestic partnership. Before gay marriage was legalized in California, this option was often used by gay couples as a substitute for marriage. Today, domestic partnerships are still used by gay couples who don’t feel the institution of marriage is right for them, in addition to couples where at least one of the people in the couple is over the age of 62. Domestic partnerships are often used by people over the age of 62 because people at that age often feel as if they are too old to commit to a marriage, and feel as if domestic partnership is the better choice for them. In California, people engaged in domestic partnerships receive the same privileges afforded to married folks. People in domestic relationships can visit each other in the hospital as family members, gain a priority when it comes to inheritance rights, and access healthcare options that are not available to single people.
If you are interested in acquiring a domestic partnership with your partner, or if you’re currently in a domestic partnership and are looking to dissolve this arrangement, reach out to a National City attorney who can help you with either of these issues.
Divorce is a common occurrence in California, and indeed in the entire United States in the 21st century. California was one of the first states to adopt a no-fault approach to divorce, which means that in order to get divorced, no evidence of fault or wrongdoing is required to be submitted to the court. One of the members of the married couple only needs to file for divorce citing irreconcilable differences, which in layman’s terms just means personal disagreements. Also, in California it is not required that both of the involved spouses necessarily need to agree that divorce is the right decision for them. Once one person starts pursuing a divorce, there is little the other can do to stop the divorce from happening.
There are two primary kinds of divorce: contested divorces and uncontested divorces. If the divorcing spouses and their attorneys can reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce settlement, and this agreement is approved as valid by the courts, then the divorce is uncontested. However, if the divorcing spouses cannot reach an agreement on how the divorce will be settled, then the divorce is contested. Contested divorces can be resolved through the collaborative law process, in formal mediation, in arbitration, or through a courtroom trial.
Division of Assets and Property
While some common divorce issues don’t affect every divorce, such as child custody issues for childless couples, every divorce must deal with the issue of which spouse will receive what property as a result of the divorce. California maintains a communal property statute, which dictates that all assets and property (and debts) that were acquired during the marriage must be divided completely evenly between the divorcing parties. On the other hand, any property that was acquired prior to when the marriage was completed, called separate property, doesn’t have to be split and belongs solely to the person that acquired it.
To expediate the division of assets/property, the law requires that each divorcing spouse fill out a document that is titled a Schedule of Assets and Debts. In this document, each person writes down what property he/she views as community property, as well as what property he/she views as their own separate property. Also, each person must write down the fiscal value of each piece of property. If these documents are identical for each couple, then the division will most likely be amicable and straightforward. If not, then negotiations will have to take place to settle differences.
Spousal payments, more informally known as alimony payments, is when one partner sends regular payments to the other after they have separated. The general purpose of spousal payments is to help the partner with less income to transition into a post-marriage situation where they can support themselves.
Spousal payments come in two main categories. First, in the time after the two people decide to separate from one another, but prior to when the couple actually finalizes their divorce, the more financially secure partner may be required to send regular payments to the lower-earning partner through what is called temporary alimony. This type of spousal support can only last until after the divorce is completed. After the divorce is finalized, spousal payments may continue through what is called permanent alimony, which usually continues for a number of years. If the marriage lasted under 10 years, then then the payments associated with permanent alimony won’t last more than half the total length of the union. If the marriage did last more than 10 years, then the amount of time that alimony payments will last is up to the discretion of the judge. The amount of alimony required varies from couple to couple, but generally it will be an amount commensurate with what the partner needs to maintain their standard of living.
Custody over Children
Parents who split apart from one another are legally required to devise a system for how they will handle their children. Similar to property/asset division, this issue can be settled out of court, or if need be, in can be handled in a legal setting. If the custody of the children is contested by the separating parents, and the case proceeds to a trial, then the judge will order the couple to first meet with a licensed family court mediator. This person is a trained professional who can help parents come to a mutual decision regarding child custody.
Two categories of child custody must be dealt with in every child custody arrangement. First is physical custody, which decides with which parent the child will physically stay and live. Legal custody over children grants control over key life decisions for the child. Both of these forms of custody can either be joint or sole, meaning they can be shared with both parents or can belong to one parent alone. If you are facing legal issues associated with child custody, call a National City attorney regarding custody.
California law requires that a child’s parents must help financially support any children they have together. If parents are divorced or separated for any other reason, then the parent who isn’t taking care of the children must make monthly payments to the parent who is housing and caring for the children. The amount a parent owes in child support varies from parent to parent, and is determined by a set formula. This formula takes into account the amount of money each parent makes through their job, as well as the amount of time each parent is with the children.
If a parent refuses to pay for child support, or for any other reason fails to make their child support payments each month, he/she will face legal penalties. A person who fails to pay child support may have their wages seized, welfare benefits eliminated, or driver’s license indefinitely suspended. If you are struggling with a child support legal issue, reach out to a National City attorney who can help you with this challenging situation.
Guardianship and Adoption
While guardianship and adoption are terms people sometimes use interchangeably, an both refer to a situation involving a parent gaining custody over a child, there are distinct differences between the two terms. Guardianship and adoption are two different arrangements that come with different responsibilities and rights.
When a parent gains guardianship rights over a child, the child’s birth parents retain their rights as birth parents, which allows them to request contact with their child. However, when a person gains adoption rights over a child, the child’s birth parents retain none of their rights as birth parents. Also, guardianship can be terminated by the courts if it’s decided that the child’s birth parents can resume custody of their child. The rights of adoptive parents are immutable, and can never be terminated by the courts.
Child dependency becomes an issue if someone reports child abuse to California’s Social Services Department. An employee of social services is then sent to look into the claim of child abuse, to see if it holds any merit. After completing an investigation, the employee has a few different choices. They may choose to take no further action if they believe the abuse claims are false, petition the court for the child’s protection, or even remove the child from their household when the child is being subject to extreme abuse. If this happens, then the employee of social services may choose to leave the child with a relative or in a foster home.
Find a Family Law Attorney in National City Near Me
Do you find yourself struggling with a family issue, and feel unsure on how to handle it? Call a National City attorney at 619-610-7425 who works under San Diego Family Attorney today. This person can talk to you about your family law situation and evaluate your case for free upon your request, or even serve as your legal representation.