Family Law in Southern California
If you’re currently going through a family law matter such as a divorce or a child custody battle, you already know how difficult it can be to keep your emotions in check. You may be having a hard time making decisions or reaching resolutions with your spouse, partner, or family member.
Here to Help You
The Law Offices Of Susan J. Wolf understands what you’re going through and wants to reassure you that having such complex feelings during your legal matter is completely normal. As family lawyers, we protect our clients’ rights while helping them manage complex life situations. Our firm works with families during some of their most distressing experiences and circumstances. We help our clients resolve divorce, property division, custody, support, domestic partnership issues, and other important concerns. While family legal issues are never simple, we minimize the complications with compassionate representation, respectful interactions, and a focus on non-confrontational resolutions.
When you decide that divorce is the right solution, you need a legal professional to help you work through the complications. At The Law Offices Susan Wolf Law, we understand that reaching this decision is often stressful but it’s only the first step. Even when your spouse agrees with your decision, divorce is still a formal, often-challenging legal process. It’s important to work with a legal representative who understands family law issues and provides the services to protect your personal and legal rights.
Divorce in California is a No-Fault procedure. When you cite irreconcilable differences, the court approves your divorce petition regardless of your spouse’s position. When a respondent contests a divorce, the courts usually approve the petitioner’s request anyway. If your spouse refuses to participate in the divorce process, the courts grant a default judgment.
When you have children, community property, or high net worth, the issues often become complicated very quickly. Our family law attorneys serve as your legal advocates throughout the process. We prepare and file the appropriate court petitions and documents and comply with scheduled hearings. We guide our clients through custody, support, property division, and other complex issues.
A legal separation is often procedurally identical to a divorce with one exception. Divorcing parties remain legally connected to their spouses after the court approves the petition. Legally separated couples can’t enter another legal marriage or form a legal domestic partnership until they formally dissolve their marriage.
Separating couples achieve their desired outcome through a process that’s similar to divorce. They must work out custody, support, child visitation, and other legal issues either formally or informally. A legal separation allows couples to gain independence while maintaining certain marital benefits. Separation maintains a couple’s married status. It continues both party’s health insurance arrangements. It also allows immigrants to retain their legal citizenship status.
Known as parentage actions in the state of California, paternity claim proceedings ensure that the rights of both parents and the well-being of children are protected.
Divorce and Legal Separation Issues
If you’re seeking a divorce or a legal separation you must work through a number of issues. Our attorneys understand that negotiations are often complicated, but we use every resolution option available. Otherwise, the courts make unilateral decisions and you must accept the results.
California Family Code grants spousal support when it helps a spouse maintain the standard of living they experienced during the marriage. If spousal support becomes an issue for our clients, we help establish a fair support arrangement. Any compromise considers all financial elements, including income, assets, and recent changes in U.S. Tax Codes.
Child Custody and Child Support
California courts award child custody based on the best interest of the child. Unfortunately, custody battles often become a point-of-contest that disrupts and prolongs the entire divorce process. By negotiating with respondents and their attorneys, we work to resolve custody issues outside the courtroom. This prevents unnecessary stress and reins in excessive legal fees.
Both parents have a legal responsibility to financially support their children. The court examines income records and assets to determine an equitable support share. Parents may also negotiate a child support stipulation. When the court schedules your support and/or custody hearing, we attend with you to protect your legal and financial interests. If you aren’t prepared to speak up and provide income and personal information, the court will make support and custody decisions that affect your relationship with your child until they turn age 18.
COVID-19 Emergency Rules: Support Order Modifications
Families in California continue to experience income issues related to COVID-19 job losses and business closures. The California Judicial Council recognized this as a child support issue and amended Emergency Rule 13. Effective April 20, 2020, an emergency provision reduced the child support consequences of Covid-19 court shutdowns.
Customarily, when a judge approves a modification order, the date you formally file your request becomes the order’s effective date. Until all parties have access to their local courthouses, they may now initiate a support order modification by following the court’s informal process. If you use this procedure but fail to follow the guidelines, you risk a delay in your modification order. Our attorneys assist you in fully complying with Rule 13 guidelines.
When community property is an issue, we help you negotiate a division agreement. During a longstanding marriage, couples accumulate retirement and investment accounts, injury settlements, stocks, cash, real property, vehicles, and other assets. Most of the assets gained during the marriage become jointly-owned community property subject to division. We help you assess values and document any potentially hidden assets. We work with adverse spouses and their attorneys to negotiate a fair and equitable community property distribution.
Domestic partnerships in California give couples many marital benefits. Recently, the California Legislature approved domestic partnerships for all couples. If you wish to leave a domestic partnership, you may dissolve your union by filing a simple Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership with the courts. You may also use a formal process similar to a divorce. If you decide to terminate your partnership, we help you determine which process best meets your goals. Before you establish a legal domestic arrangement, our attorneys help you assess the benefits of marriage vs domestic partnership.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, our attorneys work to help you get the protection you deserve. Domestic violence is more than physical abuse. It also involves verbal abuses, stalking, threatening, and other criminal behaviors. It’s important to resolve domestic violence abuses formally. When you have a divorce pending, they often affect child custody and other divorce-related outcomes.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, a restraining order legally bars an abuser from visiting or communicating with you. To obtain an order, you must file an application. A judicial officer reviews your case, schedules a hearing, and decides if a restraining order is reasonable. Our attorneys help you complete the application process and ensure that you provide the necessary documentation. If the court declines your request, we push for a civil harassment restraining order, workplace restraining order, or an abuse restraining order.
Mediation helps prevent divorces from becoming an eternal courtroom battle. Mediation is a facilitated negotiation process. Petitioners, respondents and their attorneys meet in a neutral setting. They present their issues before a mediator who promotes meaningful negotiation. This process doesn’t always resolve every divorce concern. We believe it’s still helpful as it opens the door to essential communication and helps move the resolution process forward.
When you prefer to eliminate future divorce complications before they arise, our attorneys work with you to create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that’s legally binding. These agreements allow couples to iron out the details before or during the marriage. They resolve critical support, property, and other issues in a calm setting that’s not strained by a pending divorce.
Contact The Law Office of Susan J. Wolf
If you’re struggling with a divorce decision, contact our attorneys for the compassionate legal help you deserve. Our law firm provides family Law services from our offices in Palm Desert, Coachella Valley, and throughout Southern California. Call us at (818) 992-1182 or (760) 285-8225 to schedule your consultation.