When legal matters collide with family matters, the emotional stress and the long term outcomes at stake simply couldn't be more intense.
Many times family law revolves around processes you wish you could avoid going through such as divorce, child custody disputes, alimony judgments, or filing for bankruptcy. Other times, the process may be tedious but the overall undertaking is joyous, as in marriages and adoptions.
But regardless of the particular family law matter you're going through, the fact is that without the advice and representation of an experienced lawyer dedicated to your best interests, you risk failing to achieve a fair and reasonable outcome that protects your rights and those of your children. Or you risk leaving weaknesses in pre or post nuptial agreements, or in wills or other legal contracts, that could ultimately make them unenforceable.
At San Diego Family Law Center, we understand how difficult it can be to wade through the legal technicalities or marriage, divorce, bankruptcy, child support, or other family law issues alone.
We can help you avoid the legal pitfalls and ensure you are not needlessly settling for less than the law entitles you to by right. We can also give you sound advice on all types of family law related decisions, such as when to file for bankruptcy and whether to file for Chapter 7 or 13, whether to seek an annulment, legal separation, or divorce, and when establishing paternity may be legally worthwhile.
San Diego Family Law Center is the place you can reach out to for immediate help from experts, across a wide range of family law practice areas. We have fought and won for all manner of clients in the San Diego Metropolitan Area and throughout Southern California for many years - and we stand ready to do the same for you.
For a free initial legal consultation on your family law case, call San Diego Family Law Center anytime 24/7 at 619-658-0445. There is no obligation, and we will be happy to answer all of your family law related questions and concerns!
Why Choose San Diego Family Law Center?
When you have an important family matter that needs the attention of a skilled attorney, where do you go?
The fact is, there are numerous family law firms in San Diego and the surrounding areas, but it's also a fact that many of these firms offer less than optimal service and may lack the expertise to truly serve you well.
At San Diego Family Law Center, we don't take you for granted, but we give you good reasons to prefer our firm above the competition. We strive for 100% client satisfaction every day, and our high marks on Yelp and elsewhere both on and off line (along with the large percentage of new clients we gain via referral from past clients) shows we are meeting our lofty goals.
Here are 5 key ways that San Diego Family Law Center stands out from the crowd and better serves its clients:
- Deeper experience and expertise. Some family law firms are run by inexperienced lawyers just out of law school or only handle a few narrow practice areas. By contrast, San Diego Family Law Center has decades of combined experience on staff and has strong expertise in dozens of practice areas.
- Personalized attention. We give you personalized attention and a customized approach to handling your case from day one through to the finish line. That's a stark contrast to many of our competitors who barely even communicate with their clients during the course of their case.
- Professionalism in customer service. We always treat you with the utmost respect and dignity. We maintain the highest degree of professionalism in how we interact with our clients. We never compromise your confidentiality, and we always consult you first before making the next move on your case.
- Long and strong track record of success. Over our many years in family law, we have gained a reputation for meticulously, even tenaciously, fighting for each client’s best interests and WINNING for them, be it in or out of court.
- Constant availability. We keep ourselves available to our clients from day to day, and we also keep open the lines of communication with potential new clients 24/7, 365 days a year. We do not charge you for the initial legal consultation and there is no obligation - because we are confident that most people who call us and talk with us will be impressed that we have what it takes to optimally handle their family law case.
Our Practice Areas
At San Diego Family Law Center, we cover all the bases when it comes to family law related practice areas. We have attorneys skilled in the following 16 specific practice areas (and more) who are waiting to assist you.
While you can find more detailed information on our practice areas on its own separate website pages, here is a brief overview of our core practice areas:
Adopting a child in California can be a complex process, and you need an adoption law expert assisting you every step of the way, to ensure the process ends as you had hoped.
There are many different adoption situations, but adoption by a step parent, a relative of a deceased parent, or by the domestic partner of one of the child's biological parents are most common.
The processes and laws for out of state adoptions, international adoptions, stepparent adoptions (California Family Code Section 9000), and adoptions where a biological parent still lives (CFC 3010) all vary somewhat. If the adoption succeeds, you have the full legal rights and responsibilities as any other parent, but navigating thorny issues and complex paperwork may require the help of an experienced family law lawyer.
Alimony & Taxes
Alimony payments not only have an immediate financial impact on both payer and recipient, but they also impinge greatly upon tax issues. Understanding the details of how state and federal taxes and alimony interrelate may help the alimony provider keep alimony payments tax deductible and also allow the receiver to get a bigger, non-taxable payment.
Further, a good family law attorney can often help you and your x-spouse come to an agreement that is mutually beneficial as to how alimony is dealt with relative to taxes.
Finally, there are special situations where a court order may make alimony neither taxable nor tax-deductible OR where someone paying the mortgage on the home his x-spouse resides in will count towards alimony. It's critical to go over these and other issues with a lawyer adept at both tax and family law matters to ensure you have the best possible set up in place.
In California, a marriage can sometimes be annulled, meaning declared null and void, rather than dissolved by divorce. An annulled marriage "never happened" legally, and this can affect the way marital property is divided and will cancel any right to alimony. But it will not affect child support.
When can a marriage be annulled? Under California law, a marriage can be annulled if it is found to have been incestuous, bigamous, underaged, or accomplished by fraud or force. It can also be annulled if a spouse is found to be of an unsound mind or to have an "incurable physical capacity" for normal sexual relations (impotence.)
However, there are statutes of limitations for several of the bases for annulments, and for others without such deadlines, legal proof will still be necessary. An annulment lawyer can help you understand the legal status of your "marriage" and assist you through the annulment process when legally viable.
Bankruptcy is never your first option, but when debts become overwhelming and all reasonable hope of ever paying them off evaporates, bankruptcy may provide a way to get a new financial start and avoid being buried in debt for the rest of your life.
Under Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, debts are eliminated for the most part (unless not legally dischargeable) and non-exempt assets are liquidated to pay creditors. Under Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, debts are reorganized to give you more time to pay, and many debts may be reduced (the unpaid portion may be canceled at the end of the repayment period IF you followed the Chapter 13 plan's payment schedule.)
Knowing when to file for bankruptcy, whether Chapter 7 or 13 is best in your situation, how to maximize and strategize your exemptions, and how and when to file the proper paperwork to ensure an automatic stay against further creditor actions - are all things a skilled bankruptcy lawyer can assist you with.
When the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage end, the same cannot be said in regard to the parent-child relationship. California wants to ensure that children do not suffer financial hardship as a result of a divorce, legal separation, or annulment - or because one of two parents never married simply foregoes to give any financial help in raising his/her child.
Thus, child support payments can be required, generally from the parent with the higher income, to help with general living expenses, medical bills, daycare services, extracurricular activities, and other costs involved in raising a child.
The determination of the amount of child support depends on numerous factors, including current salary of each parent, earning capacity of each parent, and the cost of living where the child resides. An experienced family law attorney can walk you through all of the legal complexities to ensure a fair child support determination.
When DCFS receives a report of alleged abuse or neglect of a child by his or her parents, the parent (or legal guardian) will be expected to attend a hearing to answer the charge. It is critical you never attend such a DCFS hearing alone or without sound advice from a family law lawyer.
And even after the hearing, DCFS will monitor your home life for up to 6 months. A Child Service Worker could recommend against you at any time during that 6 months. DCFS can often take children away from parents, cancel parental rights, and send children to foster care or give custody to relatives.
If you are facing a DCFS investigation, don't take it lightly. Get a good family law lawyer fighting on your side as early as possible.
California is a "no fault divorce state," meaning that no special violation or particular act has to be committed to allow a divorce. One spouse merely needs to file for divorce and say they have "irreconcilable differences" with their spouse.
Navigating the paperwork and court processes of a divorce can sometimes be troublesome, but the most difficult part comes with issues of child custody and visitation, child support and spousal support, and division of marital "community" property.
At San Diego Family Law Center, we have detailed knowledge of the ins and outs of California divorce law, and we have deep experience in helping our clients navigate all the issues that typically come up during a divorce process.
Before the US Supreme Court ruling in effect legalizing same-sex marriage in California, a "domestic partnership" law had been enacted that allowed same-sex couples essentially the same benefits (and responsibilities) as those legally married.
Domestic partnerships still exist in California, even if the original reason for their existence is gone and they are on the road to "phasing themselves out."
The details of how a domestic partnership is formed or dissolved and how property division, child custody, partner support, and other issues are resolves differ slightly from those of California marriage law. And dealing with out of state domestic partnerships requires even more knowledge of legal minutia.
If you are seeking to form or end a domestic partnership, you need the advice of a family law lawyer with expertise in this very specific practice area.
"Family Law" is a very broad term, taking in almost every possible way in which family matters can become legal matters as well. At San Diego Family Law Center, we cover the full range of family law practice areas all "under one roof."
Be it divorce, legal separation, annulment, child support and custody, spousal support, adoption, paternity law, marriage law, bankruptcy, writing a valid will, writing an enforceable pre or post nuptial agreement, or a host of other matters, we have well seasoned attorneys on our staff who can handle your case and achieve optimal results.
Don't try to "go it alone" with a family law issue in court or trust a lawyer without deep experience in the relevant family law practice area to handle your case. Too much is at stake - your family, your children, your financial future.
A legal separation is not a divorce and, therefore, does not end a marriage. It is an alternative to divorce, and sometimes, a preliminary move before filing for divorce in California.
When do people typically seek a legal separation? There are many motives, including: you don't believe in divorce on religious grounds, you're not quite sure yet if you want to end the marriage, or you don't meet the residency requirements yet to file for divorce.
Also, you can avoid the six month waiting period to finalize divorce and just get a legal separation immediately. However, your spouse has to agree to a legal separation (but not to a divorce) for it to become valid - and he or she would have to concur on the separation agreement dealing with matters like division of property, spousal support, and the like.
Note that "legal separation" is not the same as "date of separation." The former is a legally separated status, while the latter is the official date when one spouse shows his/her intention to end the marriage or at least to seek a legal separation.
At San Diego Family Law Center, we can equip you with the information you need to decide if legal separation is an option you want to take, and we can help you form a separation agreement with your spouse and get it turned into a court order, if you do decide on legal separation.
If you are planning on getting married in California, you should take the time to understand the basics of our state's marriage laws.
First of all, you need to make sure your marriage is legal if you are underaged, for example. And you need to make sure the marriage license and other paperwork is filed and processed correctly.
You may also want to form a legally binding prenuptial agreement, and that requires the assistance of an experienced lawyer - unless strict rules are followed, such agreements could prove unenforceable.
Finally, realize that there is not common law marriage provision in California. Although common law marriages recognized by other states could get recognized in California, that's the only exception. To gain the protections of marriage, you have to officially get married. Otherwise, a domestic partnerships agreement or cohabitation agreement could offer at least some protections.
In most situations, there is no problem with establishing paternity (fatherhood) of a man in regard to his children. It is not in dispute, and both parents have no doubts or legal disputes about it.
Also, if a man and a woman are married when a child is born, there is the legal presumption that the man is the father of the child. That presumption also applies in domestic partnerships or even when two people are living together. Further, in the case of artificial insemination, the husband of the mother is the legal father IF he gave his consent to the insemination.
In still other cases, paternity is not automatic, but can be voluntarily assumed when both parents are agreeable to this.
But, it often happens that the biological father of a child is unknown. And there may even be a dispute over who truly has paternity. In this case, a court action and a paternity test may be necessary to determine if an alleged father is the true father.
At San Diego Family Law Center, we can help you resolve all manner of paternity issues in a fair, efficient, and legally binding way.
Post-Judgment Enforcement / Modifications
After a divorce and a spousal and/or child support judgment is issued by the divorce court, there are often problems that can arise.
First, the supporting party may neglect his/her duty. He may stay purposefully underemployed to avoid paying support or may be hiding income. In this case, the supported spouse can file the appropriate paperwork with the court to get resolution. That could mean payment of back support, garnishing of wages, or other consequences.
Second, the situation may change financially at some point following the original post-divorce judgment. In this case, either x-spouse can file for and adjustment or "modification" to reflect the new reality. That could mean support goes up or down.
For example, if a supported spouse's income doubles, spousal support should be diminished or end. But if a supporting spouse's income drops through no fault of his/her own, support could go down too. However, if a spouse is found to be purposefully un or under employed, the court can "impute" income to him (what he "would have" made) and base support on that.
There are many financial factors that can legitimately be the basis for a modification of divorce judgment, and there are also attempts by some to illegitimately modify judgments. At San Diego Family Law Center, we can help you win your modification dispute and walk you through the process step by step.
Post-nuptial & Pre-nuptial Agreements
Prenuptial agreements pre-establish how property would be divided in the event of a divorce. They are rather common in California and throughout the US these days, but unless your agreement is drawn up according to strict legal requirements, it could be invalid and unenforceable.
Postnuptial agreements function the same as prenuptials, but are done after the marriage has already been established. Many times, postnuptials are drawn up to ensure inheritance rights of children from a previous marriage and overlap with the function of a will in some respects.
A pre or post nuptial agreement cannot diminish the rights of children to child support or custody/visitation that's in their best interests. Nor can a marital agreement violate any state law of California or be "too one sided" so that one spouse surrenders all and gets next to nothing.
Nuptial agreements are frequently challenged during a divorce process, and they can be declared invalid if they do not meet all the requirements of the law. That would make them useless, of course. But a good family law lawyer can ensure that your pre or post nuptial is 100% legally sound.
Spousal support is just another name for "alimony," which is financial support one x-spouse must give to the other after the dissolution of a marriage. Sometimes, spousal support may also be given during a legal separation.
The idea of spousal support is that it enables the lower-income-earning x-spouse to continue to enjoy the standard of living that existed during the marriage until he or she can readjust to single life again.
Spousal support is generally meant to be only temporary. The length of time it continues will depend on how long the marriage lasted, on how long it takes the supported spouse to acquire the skills to earn enough income on his/her own, and on various other factors. [See our section on Alimony to learn more about spousal support.]
Wills & Probate
Writing up a will, or later, ensuring that the will is adhered to so that a deceased loved one's final wishes are carried into effect, is a process that may require the help of an experienced family law lawyer.
At San Diego Family Law Center, we can ensure that your will is drawn up legally sound and enforceable and in a way that won't create any confusion as to your true last wishes.
We can also help the family of the deceased through the probate process, where the distribution of a departed loved one's assets is taken care of. Or, we can help you find a way around the probate process to speed things up and simplify matters - while keeping everything legal, fair, and transparent.
Contact Us Today for Immediate Assistance!
At San Diego Family Law Center, we have deep experience across the full gamut of family law practice areas, and we know the California statutes and court processes governing these matters down to the minutia.
Whatever your specific family law issue may be, we can match you to a family law attorney who is fully equipped to handle your case from beginning to end and win for you the best possible outcome.
To learn more, or for a free, no-obligation legal consultation on the details of your case, contact us anytime 24/7/365 by calling 619-658-0445.