What is California Family Law & Divorce
California Family Law & Divorce, is a phrase that encompasses more than just divorce. Included in the concept of family law is divorce, legal separation, child custody and visitation, grandparent visitation, child support, spousal support, division of community property and debts, confirmation of separate property, award of attorney’s fees, and domestic violence restraining orders, post-judgment modification of support action, contempt of court actions, and actions to collect support arrearage and adoption.
The inception of a divorce case begins when one spouse files a Petition for Dissolution. In the Petition, the filing spouse will request the court to determine one or more several issues such as dissolving the marriage, dividing community property, confirming separate property, awarding child custody and visitation to the parties, issuing orders for child and/or spousal support, and orders for attorney’s fees.
After being served with divorce papers, most people find themselves bewildered by the process. This is largely because they may never have been involved in a divorce before and do not know what to expect. They are also bewildered because they are devastated emotionally, feeling that their world is falling apart around them and they do not know what to do.
It is imperative after being served with divorce papers to immediately seek the advice of competent divorce counsel. There are many rights granted and obligations invoked upon each party to a divorce case starting immediately after the case is filed and served. We will sit down with you and explain what your specific rights and obligations are. We will also give you seasoned advice about what to expect in the divorce process. We will then discuss your goals and a strategy to achieve them.
IT IS NEVER RECOMMENDED THAT YOU REPRESENT YOURSELF IN ANY FAMILY LAW MATTER. The field of family law is far too complicated for anyone to try to represent themselves. These old adages come to mind: “What you don’t know will hurt you”; “You don’t know what you don’t know”; “When you represent yourself you have a fool for a client”.
Yet I see many parties in court every day that are self-represented and throw themselves upon the mercy of the court not knowing what their important rights are or how to assert those rights. As a family court mediator, I see the parties in private conference before they go into court and see the Judge. In the course of mediation, I see many self-represented parties unprepared to go forward with their hearing or their trial because they did not follow the rules of court or they did not adequately prepare their case. Many times, they fail to bring before the court their documentary and other evidence to enable the Judge to decide in their favor. Without timely submitting their evidence, the court will not have the ability to rule on their matter.
It is acknowledged that many litigants simply cannot afford legal counsel. Unlike criminal defendants, the family law court does not afford free legal counsel to parties. However, for many there is simply too much at stake to risk representing themselves. Without the assistance of counsel, do you want to let the Judge determine your fate when it comes to determining what the child custody arrangement will be? Without the assistance of counsel, do you want the Judge to determine how much child and/or spousal support you will pay? Alternatively, how your community property will be divided? The answer is implied within the question.
* We serve the following cities: Santa Clarita, Valencia, Canyon Country, Castaic, Saugus, Newhall, Lancaster, Palmdale, Los Angeles, Ventura, Van Nuys, Burbank, Glendale, Chattsworth, and all of the San Fernando Valley.