Family Law 101

CHILD SUPPORT
Child support is required until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. A computerized formula is used to determine the proper amount of child support to be paid based on the income of both parents. There are several factors that can be considered in the formula such as:
• The income of both parents;
• The time each parent wants to (or can) spend with the child;
• The cost of health care and uninsured health care expenses;
• Extracurricular activities; and
• Daycare.
CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION
In dissolution (divorce) proceedings involving children, California law places the needs of the children first and what the parents would like second. Custody cases involve either an initial custody decision or modification of a previous custody order. It is my job as your attorney to assist you in creating a child custody and visitation plan which will make sure that both parents play a role in their children’s lives, so that the children’s best interests are met.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Spousal support is a regular payment one ex-spouse makes to the other spouse. It is not always awarded, but it is awarded when one spouse is not able to make ends meet and other spouse has the ability to pay. If the parties cannot reach an agreement on the amount of support, the court will make the determination on whether support will be paid and, if so, how much and for how long. As your attorney, it is part of my job to make sure the amount of the support and the length of time you receive support will meet your needs. If you are the spouse paying support, I can determine if you have sufficient resources to pay support.
MODIFICATION OF CHILD AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Both child and spousal support are based on both parties’ income. If there is a substantial change in either spouse's income, the amount of support paid might be subject to change. To change the existing Court Order, you will need to go back to Court to petition to modify the child or spousal support order or the order establishing the child custody and the visitation arrangement. 
If your or your ex-spouse's situation has undergone a change and you now want to modify an existing court order, it is important to speak with an attorney to discuss your options and to develop a plan for identifying and obtaining important information to establish whether the changes should affect the standing order. For instance:
• The ex-spouse from whom you receive payments is now making more money, 
• The ex-spouse to whom you are making payments is now making more money or is self-sufficient, or 
• The spouse receiving support has higher earnings or is now self-sufficient.
PROPERTY DIVISION
As you begin the process of obtaining your divorce, dividing the property acquired during the marriage can be one of the most contentious issues. All assets and debts must be disclosed to the other spouse, so it can be determined whether they are either community or separate property. Additionally, there may be assets that are unknown to a spouse. In your divorce, decisions will be made regarding all assets such as contributions made by either party to purchasing a home, contributions to retirement or money market accounts, a business the family may own or other issues such as taxes. As your family law attorney, I am able to review all your financial matters and those of your spouse to accurately determine what are community assets and debts, and what are the separate assets and debts. As your attorney, I will make sure that your property rights are clearly established and work in developing an agreement representing your interests and priorities to the greatest degree possible.
Any asset or debt can be divided as part of the overall final property settlement. Dividing the community property interest in a home, retirement account or even credit card debt can be difficult and should be carried out in a careful manner. As an attorney with experience in Family law, I can help you organize your thoughts to aid in establishing your priorities so that a fair property division can be obtained. I have helped many clients through all aspects of divorce.