At the Law Offices of Catherine A. Vincent we practice exclusively family law. Here, we focus only on the family. We understand the depth of our clients’ emotions and commitments to their children, grandchildren, parents and to providing for their family. In family law, we deal with what matters most to people: their children, their homes, and their financial future and security. After all, what else matters?
The term ‘divorce’ is somewhat outdated. The more modern term ‘dissolution’ as the court ‘dissolves’ your marital status so the you are no longer married to your partner. California is a ‘no fault’ state which means that you do not need ‘grounds’ in order to dissolve your marriage. Instead, just stating ‘irreconcilable differences’ suffices. In other words, you can get divorced for any reason whatsoever and your partner has no basis to object. Also, because California is a ‘no fault’ state, neither spouse will be ‘punished’ for having caused the breakdown of the marriage by either taking a disproportionate amount of assets or debts nor by having less time with the children … unless the behaviour has been so egregious so as to harm the children.
If you are wanting to take over all parental duties, rights and responsibilities of a minor child in the place of the child’s parents, you must file a guardianship action in the Probate Department of the Superior Court. A guardianship action requires the showing that it would be detrimental for the child to remain with its parents and that it would be in the child’s best interests to live with you. Once a guardianship is granted, then it stays in place unless one of the parents successfully petitions the court to terminate the guardianship.
To annul your marriage means to get a judgment stating that your marriage never legally happened. Many people believe that a marriage can be annulled simply because it didn’t work out or because it was a marriage of short duration. This is not true. To annul your marriage, you must show that there was some sort of fraud or substantial misrepresentation upon which you relied in consenting to the marriage in the first place. For example, if you made it clear to your spouse before marriage that you want to have children and your spouse agreed that you would start a family but he failed to tell you he had had a vasectomy or she failed to tell you she had had a hysterectomy, then this would be fraud in the inducement of this marital contract.
If you want to separate from your spouse and for some reason do not desire to file to dissolve your marriage, you can file a Petition for Legal Separation. People choose legal separation over divorce for several different reasons. Some are opposed to divorce due to their religious beliefs. Some are just morally opposed to divorce. Some don’t want to be the one to file but want to put that ultimate decision on their spouse. Some don’t want to be divorced as they desire to stay as a dependent of their spouse for health insurance purposes. It is important to understand that if you file for legal separation, your spouse can turn it into a dissolution even if that is not your wish.
When unmarried people have children together and seek court orders regarding child custody, visitation, child support and any other child related matters, then the court action in family court is called a paternity case and starts with the filing of a Complaint to Establish Parental Relationship. This kind of a case ends with a judgment identifying the legal mother and the legal father of the child and, as well, child support orders, child care, health insurance, etc.
California is a community property state. Unless there is a premarital agreement, then all assets purchased during the marriage (between date of marriage and date of separation) are presumed to be community assets and are owned equally by both of the parties. Of course, with every presumption, there are exceptions.
Child support, both temporary (while the family law case is pending) and permanent (out into the future) are calculated with the assistance of a computer program sanctioned by the State of California which program renders what is known asGuideline Child Support. The information to be inputted into the program include, but is not limited to...
Family Code §3100(a) provides that the court shall grant reasonable visitation rights to a parent unless it is shown that the visitation would be detrimental to the best interest of the child. The question therefore becomes what is reasonable and what is in the child’s best interest. For the answers to these questions the court must look at each case on a case by case basis. Everyone’s case facts and family dynamics are different.
There are two (2) kinds of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody has to do with all of the major health, education and welfare decisions pertaining to your children. Physical custody deals with where and with whom your child will be living subject to the visitation rights of the other parent.