Divorce & Legal Separation

Divorce is one of the most emotionally-charged life events as two people who promised to love each other for life see their marriage come to an end, often with a fight fueled by perceived or actual wrongs. No matter what your reason is for divorce, it can be useful to have an experienced divorce attorney guide you through each step of the process. This is especially important in order to understand all of your rights and obligations which arise from your marriage.

Child Custody and Visitation

Generally, the public policy in California states that a custody and/or visitation arrangement should assure the health, safety and welfare of the child as well as ensure that the child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents, unless doing so would not be in the best interests of the child. Family Code §3011 provides a list of some of the factors that courts are required to consider to determine what is in the best interests of the child. However, the ultimate determination can be somewhat subjective and depend on each family’s unique situation.

Legal Separation

In California, a legal separation is often the first step in a divorce. A separation allows both parties time to live apart while deciding if they want to go through with a divorce, and it also allows them to maintain certain tax and medical benefits when the divorce is amicable. A legal separation must be approved by the court and all issues of divorce, including child support and custody, spousal support, and property division, must be considered. Procedurally, the process is similar to a divorce and is often an option for those individuals who may not wish to formally divorce due to issues such as retaining health benefits or religious reasons. If the spouses later choose to go through with the divorce, they can use the separation agreement or judgment as the basis for the divorce agreement.

Child Support

Child support is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce, but also has one of the simplest principles — the court will endeavor to ensure that the child is adequately cared for including education, healthcare, clothing, and other necessities of life. Both parents have a duty and an ongoing obligation to provide financial support for their child until the child reaches the age of majority, such as 18 years of age and out of high school or 19 years of age. Limited exceptions may apply where child support may be ordered beyond age of majority, such as children with special needs.

Spousal Support

Spousal support is designed to compensate for the fact that one spouse frequently forgoes opportunities to increase their own income for the betterment of the marriage and that they may be behind in the job market when the marriage ends. The amount of spousal support and length of time it must be paid is dependent on several factors such as the education and historical income of the spouses, as well as the length of the marriage.

Property Division

Property acquired during a marriage is generally divided equally upon divorce while premarital or inherited property remains separate property. Complications arise where property acquired before the marriage is improved during the marriage or is sold and used to purchase other assets. A spouse may also be entitled to reimbursement if the other spouse continues to enjoy the benefit of a large asset, such as the home, before the divorce agreement is finalized.

Seo Family Law is here to help you with a divorce or separation in Alameda County, Dublin, or surrounding areas in Northern California. Contact us for a consultation today.