1

Do I need an attorney?

Do I need an attorney? In a real estate transaction, civil litigation or marital dissolution there are two sides, often with differing opinions, rights and responsibilities under the law, and in dispute with each other. An attorney acts to resolve the matter quickly and effectively and protects the client from being taken advantage of. Having an attorney will ensure that you know your rights and responsibilities under the law before you make any decisions that will affect your legal position or financial situation. It is an attorney's job to inform you of your options and help you make the best choices throughout the legal process.

2

Do I need an aggressive attorney or a collaborative attorney?

Our attorneys will be aggressive if it will help the client's case. However, being aggressive for the sake of being aggressive is sometimes not in the client's best interest and interferes when the parties are amicably trying to work through a very difficult situation.

3

What is the standard procedure for a dissolution in California?

Commencing the action. A dissolution action starts when one spouse files a petition and a summons with the court. The petition requests that the marriage be terminated. The filing spouse is known as the "Petitioner." The other spouse is the "Respondent." The summons puts the Respondent on notice that the action has started. Together these documents are known as the Petitioner's moving papers. Once filed with the court, the moving papers are served on the other spouse, usually within 30 days. After service of the initial moving papers the divorce can then proceed one of two ways, uncontested or contested.

4

How long does it take to get a divorce?

In California, marital status can not be terminated until a minimum of six months from the date the opposing party is served with divorce papers. However, a dissolution action can take longer depending on the complexity and number of issues in dispute.

5

How to protect your children?

Many parents overlook the effect that a divorce can have on their children, sometimes resulting in substantial emotional harm. Children can often suffer without any noticeable signs. Both San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties require Family Court Services mediation to work out parenting plans. Parties also have the option of private mediation or co-parent counseling; we have a list of experts that we recommend, many of whom are psychologists or therapists with extensive experience in the field.

6

Domestic violence basics.

Domestic violence is defined as threatened or actual abuse from someone in your family or in your home with whom you have a close relationship. Emergency Protective Orders. If you need help right now, you should contact local law enforcement. The responding police office can call a judge at any time day or night and ask for an emergency protective order that lasts for up to seven days. Restraining Orders. A restraining order is a court order that can require the person you want restrained to stop threatening you or hurting you and your children or the people you live with. These orders can last for a week or up to three years.

7

Child support in California

California child support is based upon a California mandated formula. The support ordered depends on the following factors: the incomes of both parties, the time-share percentage each parent has the child(ren), costs of child care, health care expenses, and extraordinary expenses associated with the children. The family courts and most attorneys have a computer program that calculates support. The formula amount can be changed only when there are unusual circumstances. The court will rarely consider the income of a new spouse or nonmarital partner. The court can consider the earning capacity of a parent in lieu of their actual earnings. There are deductions that are permitted for calculating net income as well as special considerations when AFDC payments are being made. Child support lasts until the child is 18, unless the child has not graduated from high school, in which case it lasts until the child has graduated from high school or turns 19, whichever occurs first. If a chi

8

Spousal Support

Spousal support is intended to maintain the supported spouse's marital standard of living. Either party may be ordered to pay spousal support. Determination of spousal support is determined by many factors including: earning capacity of the parties, marketable skills of the supported party, ability to pay of the supporting party, age and health of the parties, tax consequences to each party, the balance of hardships to each party, and other factors the court determines are just and equitable. The stated goal of the California Legislature is that "the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time." In marriages of less than 10 years the presumption is that spousal support should be granted for a term of half the length of the marriage. In marriages of more than 10 years, it is an abuse of discretion for the court to set a future termination date. However, spousal support usually terminates on the death of either spouse or the re-marriage of the