The field of family law has grown and changed significantly since the 1970s, as the structure of the American family and the way in which the sexes are treated has gone through an extensive transformation. In the past, the husband controlled all aspects of a marriage and owned all of the property obtained by the couple during the marriage. Divorce was looked down upon as extremely scandalous and rarely took place. The procedure for obtaining a divorce was an even more arduous process than it is today, as the person filing for divorce had to prove their spouse had committed a serious fault such as infidelity, severe cruelty, or a major violation of the law.
Not until Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Family Law Act of 1969, which came into effect on January 1st, 1970 did California adopt a no-fault stance toward divorce, the first state in the country to do so. California was also one of the first states to modernize its laws regarding child custody, as in the past custody of children had almost always been given solely to the mother if she was in full health and of sound mind. The main tenets of California’s Family Law Act and other updates to family law, such as the ideas of no-fault divorce and joint custody, were soon imitated by the rest of the country, and the modern family law system was born.
The current-day family law system in California is complex and incorporates a wide range of different legal subjects. Call 619-610-7425 to talk on the telephone with a Vista family law lawyer who will provide answers to any enquiries you might have about the process.
There are certain issues which often arise in situations involving family law, some of which are discussed in the paragraphs below.
Wills and Probate
A will is defined as a document signed by a person of a wholly sound mental state who is at minimum 18 years old, that determines how his/her property and assets will be distributed when he/she pass away, with the people receiving the property usually being family members. The will must be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses who are unbiased, meaning neither of them can be recipients of any of the property/assets outlined in the will. The will names not only the people who will receive property/assets, known in legal terms as beneficiaries, but also the person who will be in charge of ensuring that the property/assets are distributed according to the instructions detailed in the will, known in legal terms as the executor of the estate.
Probate is the legal process via which a will is verified by California’s court system. First, the executor of the estate must file a Petition for Probate with the superior court in the county where the recently deceased person resided, along with a copy of the will, and a signed statement by both of the witnesses. If the court sees the will and the sworn statements as valid, then the court will issue Letters of Testamentary, which gives the executor legal power to distribute assets according to the wishes outlined in the will. As part of this distribution process, the executor will have to maintain an inventory and evaluation of all the probate property, to be filed with the court for verification. After all of this has been verified, the executor is free to distribute the assets outlined in the will, and the probate process comes to a close. The probate process requires a great deal of paperwork, thus the help of a Vista attorney may be beneficial, to make certain everything is filed correctly.
Reproductive Rights and Abortion
Reproductive rights are generally defined as an individual’s right to choose whether or not to reproduce, and maintain access to reproductive healthcare options. Elements of reproductive rights include a person’s right to engage in family planning, utilize contraceptive measures, be free from forced sterilization, and terminate a pregnancy. Reproductive rights can also include access to sex education classes in public schools that teach students about reproductive options and sexually transmitted diseases. If you feel as if your reproductive rights are being violated, reach out to a Vista family law attorney at 619-610-7425.
California, compared to many states in the US, has relatively progressive laws when it comes to reproductive rights. In terms of birth control, employers are required to provide their employees with access to birth control options, unless doing so violates the religious beliefs of the people running the business, due to the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Case in 2014. However, unlike in other states, women in California can go to their pharmacists and request access to hormonal birth control. The pharmacist will require the woman requesting the birth control to fill out a form, the only purpose of which is to ensure the birth control will not cause the woman any health problems.
California also has less stringent laws than other states when it comes to abortion. Women requesting an abortion don’t have to go through an elongated waiting period, and facilities providing abortions don’t have to operate under stringent codes as they do in other states. Women in California can pursue an abortion until the fetus is considered viable, usually 22-24 weeks into the pregnancy, or afterwards if there is a risk the pregnancy poses a serious threat to the mother’s health. The procedure must be performed by a licensed medical professional, and minors in California do not need parental permission before undergoing an abortion.
As mentioned in the introductory paragraphs, since 1970, California has operated as a no-fault divorce state, meaning there exists no requirement to demonstrate misconduct for a divorce to be granted. The individual filing for divorce only is obligated to cite “irreconcilable differences,” and make the claim that the marriage cannot be salvaged for a divorce to be accepted by the courts. Divorce will be granted in California even if one of the spouses is totally against the divorce. To file for divorce in California, you and your spouse must have lived in California for a minimum of 6 months before the divorce.
The divorce process proceeds according to a few key steps. First, the individual filing for divorce, called the “petitioner,” must file a petition in their local superior court, requesting that the marriage be dissolved. The other person in the marriage, called the “respondent,” will then receive a summons document in the mail letting them know about the request for divorce, to which he/she must respond within thirty days. If the respondent ignores the summons, the divorce proceeds anyway, and the petitioner along with his/her lawyer will go to court for the purpose of making order requests for legalities such as child custody and alimony. If the respondent does respond to the petitioner, then their divorce lawyer will swap evidence about property, debts, as well as other issues, before trying to come to a mutual agreement concerning the particulars of the divorce settlement. If the two divorcing parties concur on the particulars of the divorce settlement, then the divorce is considered uncontested. If they do not agree, the divorce is considered contested, and the particulars of the divorce settlement must be determined in arbitration, mediation, or in a courtroom by a judge.
Nullity of Marriage
Nullity of marriage, more commonly known as annulment, is an alternate option to divorce that allows marriages to be terminated, but only if certain criteria are met. Unlike with divorces, which end the marriage but do not expunge legal records of the union, an annulment both ends the marriage and voids any legal record of the union, meaning the marriage didn’t ever happen in legal terms. For whatever reason, it is a common belief among many people that an annulment is available to couples who have been married for only a very short period of time, but this is just not true.
For an annulment to be approved by California’s court system, the person filing for the annulment must provide a specific reason for the annulment. An annulment will be granted without deliberation if it can be proven that the two people involved in the marriage are close relatives and the marriage involved incest, or if it can be proven that one of the people involved in the marriage was already married and the marriage was bigamous. A nullity of marriage can also be granted if it can be shown one of the people involved in the marriage was forced into the union, one of the people getting married was of unsound mental capacity, or if the marriage took place under circumstances that were fraudulent. If you think a nullity of marriage might be an option you are interested in pursuing, call 619-610-7425 to check with a Vista attorney and see if you really do qualify for the process. This lawyer can also represent you in the complicated annulment process.
The post-marriage settlement process that occurs after a divorce then takes place after an annulment is granted, with a few differences. Alimony can’t be required, since the marriage never took place in the view of the legal system. Property must be divided, but since the marriage never officially took place, this must be settled outside of court. All provisions related to child visitation and custody, as well as child support, still do apply, since laws related to this topic do not include a marriage requirement, and still apply to unmarried parents.
When dealing with a divorce, nullity of marriage, or other forms of separation, the rights each parent has over their child can be a prickly topic of debate. It is common for parents not to be able reach an agreement regarding the rights each parent will have over the child, as each parent may believe they deserve more rights than the other. In these cases, it is required that the couple engage in mediation, where the two parents sit with a mediator, who will try and help the parents come to a mutual decision about custody. If the parents can still not make a decision, then the parents and their lawyers will go before a judge and argue their cases, with the final decision being made by a judge.
There are 2 forms of parental rights to be decided on: physical custody of the child and legal custody of the child. Legal custody refers to which parent controls major choices for the child, and physical custody refers to which of the parents the child will live with physically. Both categories of custody may either be joint or primary, meaning legal/physical custody is either shared by the two parents, or belongs fully to one of the parents. In cases involving sole physical custody, the other parent may occasionally see his/her child via what is termed visitation.
Another important determination that must be made by splitting parents is the question of child support. If one parent is principally supporting the child and supporting him/her financially, then the other parent must make monthly payments to the primary caretaker in order to assist in supporting the child. Child support may be determined outside of a courtroom in a mutual decision by the parents and their attorneys, but this rare. Usually, child support is ordered by the court, with the amount of child support owed each month being determined by a computer application. The computer application uses a number of inputs to make its calculation, but the main input is the disposable income of the parent that is being required to pay for child support. Other inputs include the number of children that the primary caretaker is raising, and the exact number of hours each parent spends with the child.
Get in Touch with a Vista Family Law Attorney Near Me
Are you considering employing an attorney with family law knowhow, or just want to have a talk with a qualified expert about your case before committing to anything? Call 619-610-7425 to get in touch with a Vista Family Law attorney and San Diego Family Law Attorney, who has substantial practical experience handling family law cases of all kinds in the community.