Family Lawyers in San Diego County
Dealing with situations like divorce, child support, child custody, and the division of debts and assets isn’t easy for anyone involved. Besides the legal complexity, these issues are often highly emotionally charged as well. The family law attorneys at Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law understand this. We are here to help you reach the best possible solution to your difficult family law dilemma.
California law allows either party to file for divorce. However, either the husband or the wife must have resided in California for a minimum of six months and in the county of filing for at least three months. You may file for divorce in California on grounds of irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity of your spouse.
The spouse initiating the divorce proceedings must complete a form entitled Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If you initiate the divorce, then you are the petitioner and your spouse is the respondent. In either case, the person receiving the petition has 30 days to respond to it. Each party must disclose detailed financial information to the other, including income, assets, debts, and expenses.
A divorcing couple who has minor children together must attend mediation services presented by the family court. The goal is to learn how to co-parent effectively from different homes as well as to resolve custody issues. However, any contention of custody that you and your spouse cannot resolve during mediation will go before a family court judge.
Child and Spousal Support
Both legal parents of a child have the legal obligation to help financially support him or her. When determining the amount of child support paid by one party to the other, family law courts attempt to keep financial support the same as it would have been if the two parents continued to live together under the same roof. The judge uses a family shares model as outlined under California Family Code §§ 4050-4076. This model adds the total income of each parent to determine the percentage each contributes. It also carefully considers the following categories:
- The total income before taxes for each parent: This includes salary, bonuses, overtime, self-employment income, rental property income, investments, disability or unemployment insurance, social security, and spousal support from any previous marriages.
- Allowable deductions: This would include such things at rent or mortgage, utilities, vehicle payments and maintenance, food, and other necessities of life. If the parent paying child support also covers the child’s health insurance, the court would reduce the monthly payment by his or her percentage of the total income.
- The total number of joint children.
- The percentage of time the children spend with each parent. For example, the parent paying child support would pay more if he or she had the children 10 percent of the time as opposed to 40 percent of the time.
Although not as common as it once was, one person may be entitled to received spousal support, also known as alimony, from the other. California considers many factors, such as whether one spouse supported the other while he or she attended college, if one was a stay-at-home parent, age, general health, and the earning capacity of each.
California, like all states, desires for children from divorced families to continue to have as much access as possible to each parent and to build a strong relationship. However, it recognizes this isn’t always possible due to abuse, neglect, the physical proximity of the parents’ homes, and several other factors. When possible, the court prefers that the parents work out their own custody arrangement. If this isn’t possible even after mediation, the court will step in to either enforce joint custody or to award primary physical custody to one parent.
As with child support issues, the best interests of the children always comes first in custody decisions. A family law judge considers numerous factors before reaching a decision, including the following:
- The current relationship each child has with each parent.
- Whether either parent has a history of domestic violence or child abuse.
- Whether any of the children have special needs that one parents is better equipped to handle than the other.
- The financial resources available to each parent.
- The willingness of each parent to help the children maintain relationships with extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of their family tree.
These represent only a handful of factors a judge considers. If you’re facing a child custody battle, be sure to retain a family law attorney from Garmo & Garmo as early as possible.
Division of Assets and Debts
It’s important to understand that California enforces community property laws in divorce cases. That means that assets and debts accumulated during the marriage by either party legally belong to both of them. Although the court aims to divide assets and debts equally, that doesn’t mean that each partner will end up with exactly half. In other words, the court divides them equitably according to the individual circumstances of each party.
One exception to the division of debt is when it exceeds the value of the couple’s assets. In this case, the judge would require the spouse with the greater financial resources to pay the difference. Assets or debts acquired before the marriage or after the separation would not go into the community property pool. Other exemptions may exist as well.
This can be an especially challenging aspect of divorce when the couple purchased a home using joint funds and one party intends to continue living in the home. If you find yourself in this situation, an experienced family law attorney can help you weigh various options.
At Garmo and Garmo, LLP, our attorneys understand the complex issues that may arise, and are experienced to help you through them. We can help you understand your options, and what to expect from your case. Our office is experienced in matters including:
- Child Custody
- Child and Spousal Support
- Division of Assets and Debts
- Prenuptial (Premarital) Agreements
- Restraining Orders
Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with Garmo & Garmo
Family law issues can be very emotional and complex to deal with. Many times the parties are upset with each other and do not want to cooperate. An experienced family law attorney can help you through this challenging process, and protect your rights.
For more information about any Family Law issues, please call us at 619-441-2500 for a free consultation.
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