Orange County family lawyer Frequently Asked Questions
What should I bring to my free consultation with my family law Lawyer?
It is recommended you bring current paycheck stubs for the last 3 to 4 months; moreover,
your spouse’s paycheck stubs as well. Income tax returns for state and federal.
• All real property deeds
• Mortgage information (monthly payment)
• Savings, checking, stock certificates, bonds, brokerage statements
• Insurance policies (life), pension or retirement plans
• Vehicle registrations
• Net worth estimate
• Current will, trusts
• Property estimated value
• Any written agreements with spouse
• Liabilities list (outstanding bills)
• Estimated worth of household goods
• Write down your concerns and questions for the family law attorney to make the best of your free consultation.
What is a Pre-nuptial Agreement and Post-nuptial Agreement?
Pros: Premarital agreements may protect your children and grandchildren inheritance rights from a previous marriage. Businesses may also be protected. If one spouse has more liability than the other, a premarital agreement can guard the debt-free spouse from having to take on the responsibilities of the other. If you prepare to sacrifice a profitable career after your marriage, a premarital agreement can make sure that you will be rewarded for that sacrifice if your matrimony does not survive. A prenuptial agreement can focus on more than the financial portions of your marriage, it can comprise any details, accountability sharing to which both parties consent to in advance. Premarital agreements can regulate the quantity of spousal support that one partner will have to pay the other should they divorce. Premarital agreements can safeguard the interests of elders who plan on remarrying.
Cons: Premarital agreements can compel you to renounce your right to inherit from your spouse's estate when he or she dies. California law, entitles a spouse to a share of the estate even if the spouse does not includes such a stipulation in the will. If you contribute to the continuing success and growth of your spouse's business or professional practice by entertaining clients and taking care of the home, etc., thus allowing him or her to focus on professional endeavors, you may not be entitled to claim a share of the increase in value if you agree otherwise in a premarital agreement. This increase in value may be considered divisible marital property. Starting a marital relationship with a contract that sets forth the particulars of what will happen upon the death of your spouse or the termination of your marriage can engender a sense of lack of trust. A low- or non-wage-earning spouse may not be able to sustain the lifestyle to which he or she has become accustomed during the marriage if the agreement substantially limits the amount of spousal support to which that spouse is entitled. In the "honeymoon" phase of a relationship, one spouse may agree to terms that are not in his or her best interests because he or she is "too in love" to be concerned about the financial aspects and can't imagine the marriage coming to an untimely end.
What is a Post Nuputial Agreement?
Postmarital agreements or postnuptial agreements are agreements entered into after a marriage has taken place, but before the parties seek to end their marriage. As with premarital agreements, one or both of the parties usually is seeking to protect assets or income in the event of divorce or death.
What is a Dissolution?
What is the difference between a divorce, a legal separation and an annulment?
A divorce is a “dissolution of marriage” or a “dissolution of domestic partnership” and terminates your marriage or domestic partnership. After a divorce you will be considered a single person and can remarry if you wish.
A “Legal separation” does not end a marriage or domestic partnership. You may not marry or enter into a partnership with someone else if you are legally separated (and not divorced). A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues. A legal separation may be preferred for religious reasons.
An Annulment is a "nullity of marriage" or a "nullity of domestic partnership" and occurs when a court says your marriage or domestic partnership is NOT legally valid. A marriage or domestic partnership that is incestuous or bigamous is never valid. Other marriages and partnerships can be declared "void" because of force, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity; one of the spouses or partners was too young to legally marry or enter into a domestic partnership; or one of the spouses or partners was already married or in a registered domestic partnership. Annulments are very rare
What is the difference between Child Custody and Visitation?
What is Legal Custody?
"Legal custody" gives a parent the right to make long-term decisions about the raising of a child, and key aspects of the child's welfare -- including the child's education, medical care, dental care, and religious instruction. In most child custody cases, legal custody is awarded to both parents (called "joint legal custody"), unless it is shown that one parent is somehow unfit, or is incapable of making decisions about the child's upbringing. Legal custody is different from "physical custody," which involves issues such as where the child will live.
What is Physical Custody?
A parent who has "physical custody" of a child has the right to provide day-to-day care for the child. The key aspect of physical custody in most child custody situations is that the child will live with the parent who has physical custody. Most modern custody arrangements give physical custody to one parent (called the "custodial" parent) and grant visitation rights and shared "legal custody" to the non-custodial parent. Typically, visitation rights give the non-custodial parent exclusive time with the child every other weekend, alternating major holidays, and a number of weeks during summer vacations.
What is Sole Custody?
A parent with "sole custody" of a child usually has exclusive physical and legal custody rights concerning the child. Sole custody arrangements are rare, and are usually limited to situations in which one parent has been deemed unfit or incapable of having any form of responsibility over a child -- for example, due to drug addiction or evidence of child abuse. In sole custody situations, the child's other parent (also known as the "non-custodial" parent) has neither physical nor legal custody rights, but may be entitled to periods of visitation with the child (though those visits may be supervised, especially in situations involving domestic violence or child abuse).
What is Joint Custody?
In child custody situations, "joint custody" usually refers to one of two possible scenarios: joint legal and physical custody, or joint legal custody. In true "joint custody" arrangements, parents share equal "legal custody" and "physical custody" rights. This means that parents participate equally in making decisions about the child's upbringing and welfare, and split time evenly in having day-to-day care and responsibility for the child -- including the parent's right to have the child live with them.
Joint custody--sometimes referred to as shared custody or shared parenting--has two parts: joint legal custody and joint physical custody. A joint custody order can have one or both parts.
Joint legal custody refers to both parents sharing in major decisions affecting the child. The custody order may describe the issues on which the parents must share decisions. The most common issues are school, health care, and religious training (although both parents have a right to expose the child to their respective religious beliefs). Many joint custody orders specify procedures parents should follow in the event they cannot agree on an issue. The most common procedure is for the parents to consult a mediator.
Joint physical custody refers to the time the child spends with each parent. The amount of time is flexible. The length of time could be relatively moderate, such as every other weekend with one parent; or the amount of time could be equally divided between the parents. Parents who opt for equal time-sharing have come up with many alternatives such as: alternate two-day periods; equal division of the week; alternate weeks; alternate months; and alternate six month periods. If the child is attending school and spends a substantial amount of time with both parents, it usually is best for the child if the parents live relatively close to each other.
Child, Spousal and Family Support Issues
How is Child Support determined?
In 1984 California law established minimum levels of child support and required the courts to establish guidelines for awards of child support above the statutory minimums. This is known as the Child Support Guideline. To calculate the minimum amount of child support to be paid by a parent, the law directs a judge to first add up the total net monthly incomes of both parents. Then, the percentage of that income that is being earned by the non- custodial parent must be determined. Finally, that percentage is multiplied by the applicable level of welfare payments for the number of children in the household. The result of this calculation is the minimum child support. It should be understood that in the vast majority of cases, the court orders child support above the minimum level, as determined by local support guidelines. The majority of child support orders are paid under the Child Support Guideline. The guideline is based on a complicated mathematical formula.
How long is child support supposed to be paid?
Child support must be paid until the child becomes 18, unless the child has not graduated from high school, in which case the child support continues until the child has graduated high school or becomes 19, which ever occurs first. Presently, the law does not allow for child support beyond the age of 19, unless a child is physically or mentally disabled. However, the parents may agree that child support is to continue into the college years, and such an agreement will be enforced by the Family Law Court.
How is the Amount of Spousal Support Determined?
Unlike child support, which in most states is mandated according to very specific monetary guidelines, courts have broad discretion in determining whether to award spousal support and, if so, how much and for how long. The court may consider the following factors in making decisions about spousal support awards: the age, physical condition, emotional state, and financial condition of the former spouses; the length of time the recipient would need for education or training to become self-sufficient; the couple's standard of living during the marriage; the length of the marriage; and the ability of the payer spouse to support the recipient and still support himself or herself.
Disclaimer: California Family Law Attorney Disclaimer
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