Family Law Issues
Family Law consists of several matters relating to divorce, annulment, legal separation, domestic partnership and child custody issues.
In many routine family law matters, there isn't a need to hire an attorney. Hiring a Licensed Legal Document Assistant can prepare your family law paperwork in a timely, cost-effective manner so you can be fully prepared when you walk into court.
There are two types of family law matters, "uncontested" and "contested".
Uncontested matters are ones where both parties agree on the majority of the issues. By preparing a Marital Settlement Agreement, these types of matters generally don't require a formal court appearance, trial or hearing. Keep in mind that the final resolution must be approved by the Court.
Contested matters are ones where the parties don't agree on much, if any of the issues.
Custody Issues are the most important part of a divorce proceeding. In California, either parent can have custody of the children, or the parents can share custody. The judge makes the final decision about custody and visitation but usually will approve the arrangement (the parenting plan) that both parents agree on. If the parents cannot agree, the judge will make a decision at a court hearing. The judge will usually not make a decision about custody and visitation until after the parents have met with a mediator from Family Court Services.
There are two kinds of child custody:
- Legal custody, which means who makes important decisions for your children (like health care, education, and welfare), and
- Physical custody, which means who your children live with.
Legal Separation v. Dissolution of Marriage
In a DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE, you can seek orders like child support, spousal support, partner support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, division of property, and other orders. After a dissolution, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again.
A LEGAL SEPARATION does not end a marriage or domestic partnership. You can't marry or enter into a partnership with someone else if you are legally separated (and not divorced). A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues. Couples sometimes prefer separation for religious reasons.
What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?
Marital Settlement Agreement - A document that spells out the terms of the divorce. These agreements usually cover property division, child custody, child plans, debt division, spousal support and any other relevant issues related to the divorce. These agreements must be notarized.