Issues relating to child custody and visitation can be the most stressful, time-consuming, and expensive issues to litigate in a family law proceeding. The overriding consideration in making decisions regarding child custody and visitation is the best interest of each child, and the court has wide discretion in making a determination of the custodial arrangement which is in the child’s best interest. Although the primary concern of the court is “the child’s health, safety and welfare,” the court is also required to consider the policy of the state of California that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents.It is important that parents and their attorneys make a good-faith, concerted effort to reach agreements regarding a parenting plan which is in their children’s best interest outside of the adversarial environment of a courtroom. Parents are encouraged to utilize the services of private family counselors and evaluators to settle any disputes regarding custody and through mediation.
Under California law, each spouse is entitled to be awarded an equal division of community assets. It is presumed that property acquired during the marriage is community property of which each party is entitled to a one-half interest. However, property acquired by gift or from a separate property source. An important role for a party’s attorney is to gather the facts and information necessary to advise a client as to whether an asset should be characterized as community or separate property.Parties are generally required within 60 days after filing of the petition and the response to exchange declarations of disclosure in which they provide information and supporting documentation regarding all community and separate property assets and debts and all current earnings, income and expenses. This is an important fact-finding process which assists the parties and their attorneys in identifying assets and characterizing them as either separate or community property. After this information has been fully exchanged, the parties are able to begin negotiations to reach an agreement regarding the division of community assets and obligations and the resolution of any other issues. Each party’s attorney must thoroughly review and analyze the financial documentation provided by the other party to determine if further factfinding through formal discovery is necessary to identify all assets and establish their value.
ndividuals entering into a marriage frequently wish to modify their marital rights and obligations which would otherwise arise under California law. A premarital agreement is a contract between prospective spouses that deals with their marital rights and obligations after their marriage. It is frequently utilized to preserve the separate property character of assets acquired by one spouse prior to marriage, change the character of assets acquired during the marriage,and, under some circumstances, limit or obviate any obligation to pay spousal support in the event of a divorce. Premarital agreements can be structured with very defined terms to meet the needs and goals of each individual, such as the wish to maintain the separate property characterization of certain assets, such as a residence or business acquired prior to marriage.It is important that the technical requirements under the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act be strictly complied with in order to establish their validity and enforceability. Our office has extensive experience in negotiating and drafting premarital agreements which meets the varying needs of our clients.
Our office has broad experience in handling issues relating to child and spousal support,whether requested in the early stages of divorce or in a modification proceeding following a divorce. The calculation of child support is the same in a divorce proceeding or a post judgment modification proceeding. The factors considered by the court are required by law and include consideration of the net disposable income of each parent, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and the number of children. Because the court has little discretion in the calculation of child support, the attorney plays an important role in gathering accurate information regarding the earnings and other income of each parent and analyzing the other factors which are used to calculate child support.Pending the entry of the judgment of dissolution, the court can also issue orders for payment of temporary spousal support. The calculation of temporary spousal support is similar to that used for the calculation of child support. However, the determination of permanent spousal support upon the entry of judgment is based upon a consideration of multiple factors required bylaw, including the parties’ marital standard of living, the length of marriage, the assets and obligations of each party, and the need and ability to pay of each party. After analyzing these factors, we make an effort to negotiate an agreement providing for an appropriate level support but are prepared to make an effective presentation of evidence for the court to make a determination if a reasonable agreement cannot be reached.