California Divorce FAQ

Get Answers from Claery & Hammond, LLP

California's divorce and family laws can be confusing, and in the midst of stressful legal proceedings you likely have a number of questions about your rights and options. At Claery & Hammond, LLP our lawyers are dedicated to providing clients with the aggressive advocacy, knowledgeable legal counsel, and attentive representation they deserve, and we can assist you and your family during this difficult time. We are experienced in all type of divorce and family law cases, and can ensure your rights and interests are protected throughout your proceedings. To learn more, please call our offices today and read on for helpful answers to some common questions about divorce and family court cases.

  • Divorce FAQ

    • Q: What is collaborative divorce?

      A: Unlike the traditional idea of divorce in which couples square off in court in a heated battle, collaborative divorce allows couples to work together to restructure their lives. This method saves divorcing couples money and time, and enables them to resolve the matters of their divorce in a peaceful manner without court involvement.

    • Q: Is a mother automatically awarded custody?

      A: It is a common misconception that mothers are more likely to win custody of the children; in reality, the family courts do not favor one parent over the other. Rather, the judge's main concern is which situation is in the best interests of the children, and a number of factors will be considered before a custody ruling is made.

    • Q: How is property divided in divorce?

      A: In the state of California, any property or assets acquired during the course of the marriage are considered to be community property, and are thus subject to equitable distribution. Any community property shared by the couple will be divided equally by the divorce court. To learn how property division laws could impact your assets, discuss your situation with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer.

    • Q: How is child support calculated?

      A: Child support is often an important issue in a couple's divorce agreement, and is meant to help cover the costs of raising the child, including medical expenses, food, clothing, shelter, and education. Although some couples can work together to determine how much support will be paid to the parent with primary custody, in other cases a couple cannot come to an agreement and the court must intervene. In such cases the judge will use state guidelines to determine how much support is appropriate. Some of the factors considered include: The number of children the couple has together Whether either parent is supporting children from other relationships Each parent's income and any potential income The amount of time each parent spends with the children The cost of health insurance The cost of sharing any uninsured medical expenses Each parent's tax filing status Any additional forms of income received by the parents

    • Q: Am I eligible to receive spousal support?

      A: A spouse can seek spousal support, also known as alimony, as part of their final divorce judgment, and this support can be awarded for a short period of time to help them get back on their feet after the divorce, for the rest of their life, or for a specific purpose, such as to help them obtain an education or employment. The judge will consider a number of factors to determine the appropriate amount of support to be awarded, including the age and health of both spouses, the length of their marriage, each spouse's needs based on the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage, and the balance of hardship between the spouses.

    • Q: What is visitation?

      A: Under California law, noncustodial parents have the right to visitation with their children, though these rights are under the discretion of the court. Visitation enables the noncustodial parent to spend regular time with their children in order to maintain these important relationships. If the other parent does not follow the visitation order, you can seek court action to enforce the terms or have them modified to provide you with more visitation time.

    • Q: Do I have any legal rights as a grandparent?

      A: The California family courts recognize the important role grandparents play in the lives of children, and if you are being kept from proper contact with your grandchildren, an attorney can help you take legal action. You can file for visitation with your grandchildren so that you are able to spend regular time with them, and if granted, you can seek court enforcement if the parents do not follow this order. Contact our team today to learn about your grandparent's rights and how you can fight to protect your relationships with your precious grandchildren.

    • Q: Can I seek a restraining order as a victim of domestic violence?

      A: If you are suffering abuse at the hands of a relative, a restraining order can provide you with the protection you need. There are four main types of restraining orders that are typically issued in situations of domestic violence: Emergency Protective Order (EPO): Law enforcement officers can request to have a judge issue this order to provide the victim with immediate protection from the abuser. These orders last up to one week, and during that time the judge may order the abuser to stay away from the victim and their children and leave the residence. A victim can then seek the protection of a temporary restraining order. Temporary Restraining Order (TRO): To seek the protection of a TRO, the victim must fill out paperwork at the courthouse and speak with a judge about their situation and why the order is necessary. If granted, the order will last for three weeks, but can later be changed into a permanent order that lasts for one to three years. Criminal Protective Order ("No Contact" Order): This order may be issued by the district attorney's office after pressing charges against the abuser. Under a No Contact order the abuser cannot be in contact with you in any way and all communications must be through your attorneys. Civil Harassment Order (CHO): This type of order is not used strictly for incidences of domestic violence, but can be used to stop threats, harassment, stalking, and more. If you are a victim of domestic violence, please contact our offices as soon as possible to discuss your options to take action against your abuser to protect yourself and your loved ones from further harm.

    • Q: What are the differences between physical custody and legal custody?

      A: There are two main types of custody awarded by the court: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is awarded to one or both parents, and refers to the right to have the child live at their residence. Legal custody may be shared or awarded to only one parent, and is the right to make all decisions for the child's life, including for their health, education, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities.

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