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How Can A California Family Law Attorneys Help You?

Updated: Dec 22, 2022

Find An Affordable Family Law Attorney in Los Angeles

In a family law issue, the consequences will last forever or for a lifetime. That is why you need skilled legal counsel. Our California Family Lawyers can assist you in avoiding mistakes and achieving better outcomes. They will assist you in navigating technically challenging legal issues, negotiating a better settlement, and providing experienced legal advocacy and court representation.

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If you're going through a divorce or legal separation, you're probably worried about the future and how your divorce will affect your family relationships. Divorce and legal separation will lead to disputes about property division, child custody, and the amount of spousal or child support that will be needed.

These topics can be particularly difficult to handle during the emotionally charged period of divorce. It will never be more necessary to have a trusted legal professional's support, advocacy, and advice than during this delicate and personal legal matter.

How do I get a divorce in Los Angeles?

You must confirm that you and your spouse meet the following conditions before filing for divorce in California:

  • Prior to the divorce, you or your partner must have lived in California for at least six months.

    1. For at least three months, you or your partner must have resided in the county where you want to file for divorce.

  • Fill out all of the necessary paperwork.

    1. You must then file the requisite paperwork (a Form FL-100, Petition for Dissolution, and a Form FL-110, Summons) with the court in your jurisdiction until you are satisfied that you meet the state's divorce requirements. If you and your partner have children, you must complete additional paperwork.

    2. Following filing the paperwork, you or another adult (aged 18 or older) must deliver the divorce papers to your spouse. Within 30 days, your spouse must act. The court will issue a default judgment if your spouse does not respond.

  • Wait at least six months.

    1. A six-month waiting period is required in California to enable spouses to settle their differences and reconcile.

  • The court decides.

    1. The court will issue a judgment after the six-month waiting period, outlining the asset separation, custody, and other words.

You and your spouse must determine how to split marital property, properties, and debts in any divorce. If you and your partner have a minor child, you'll have to deal with child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support problems as well. Some of these problems may be governed by the terms of your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. You will use the uncontested divorce process if you and your partner can agree on all of the issues surrounding your divorce.

Contested Divorces

Couples in contested divorces cannot compromise on the legal issues at hand and must find a mutually acceptable solution; otherwise, a judge would be forced to interfere and make the decision for you. If you and your partner cannot agree on the terms of your divorce in California, you will be forced to go to mediation.

Legal Separation

Some clients prefer marital breakup to divorce for a variety of reasons. In California, a married couple may enter into a separation agreement that spells out each party's rights and obligations during the separation period. A Los Angeles Family Lawyer will help you create legal separation agreements that protect your interests while saving you time and money.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Los Angeles?

Due to the state's divorce provisions and mandatory six-month waiting period, the divorce process in California will take at least six months, even if both parties agree to end the marriage immediately.

Reason for Divorce

When filing for divorce, you must select a "grounds" (legal reason) for ending the marriage. California, among other nations, accepts no-fault divorce based on the irreversible dissolution of the marriage. In the state, the only other divorce option is based on incurable insanity. For qualifying cases, California also allows for summary separation, which is a simplified divorce procedure.

The following are the requirements for summary dissolution:

  • Marriages that last no more than five years are considered short

  • There are no minor children

  • There is no real estate available

  • Refusing to pay spousal maintenance

  • Property and debts are subject to specific financial constraints

Who Can be Subpoenaed in a Divorce Case?

Subpoenas are used to pressure people who don't want to participate in a legal conflict to do so. In California family law, there are three forms of subpoenas: court appearance, record processing (such as bank accounts and tax returns), and a combination of both. Subpoenas may be served on the other partner or a third party who may have facts or evidence related to the divorce case by either the complainant or defendant in any family law proceeding.

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Child custody and visitation are some of the most stressful and challenging problems in divorce or post-divorce cases. As a parent, you might be worried about losing control of the bond you've developed with your child, how this would affect the structure of your child's life, and how to ensure that his or her life is not disrupted by custody, visitation, and living arrangements. These worries can trigger a lot of anxiety, leading to long court fights that are traumatic and emotional for the whole family.

How is child custody decided in California?

Family law courts will consider various factors when deciding on child custody and visitation. The overarching philosophy for California courts is to make decisions in the kid's best interests.

Child custody in California is divided into two categories:

  • Legal custody

    • A parent is given the authority and responsibility to make important life decisions for their children, such as medical care, schooling, religious upbringing, protection, and other important aspects of their child's well-being; this authority and responsibility may be given jointly or solely to one parent.

  • Physical custody

    • This allows a parent the right to make the child live with him or her; it may be awarded jointly, in which case parental time is roughly equal, or exclusively, in which case the child lives with one parent and the other has a more limited visiting schedule.

In California, what is considered an unfit parent?

California's family law policies encourage children to maintain regular contact with both parents. Only in very particular situations where a parent is deemed unfit or incompetent can the court rule against such interactions. Usually, these cases may include domestic violence, child neglect and/or abuse, or alcohol or drug abuse.

What does the judge look for?

By the end of the hearing, the family court judges determine the verdict at their discretion. Their decision, however, must heavily consider several factors outlined in California law.

Here are other considerations when making a custody decision include:

  • Which parent has been the child's primary caregiver

  • The child's age and developmental needs

  • Changes in a child's home, school, and proximity to friends can have an effect on him or her

  • A parent's desire and probability of helping their child to maintain a positive relationship with the other parent

  • Both parents' parenting abilities

  • Both parents' work schedules and other obligations

  • The child's interests, whether he or she is old enough to make such a decision

Custody & Substance Abuse

Issues of neglect, addiction, and mental well-being can severely impact child custody and parenting time. Parents should have legitimate concerns about their children's safety. One parent can shamelessly portray the other as unfit to gain an advantage in divorce and custody proceedings.

How Does Drug Abuse Affect Custody Cases?

In California, sole physical custody and sole legal custody are rarely granted. According to the California family courts, children are better served when both parents are actively involved in their children's lives.

The only exception is when the child's well-being is jeopardized or threatened by a parent or the home environment as a result of:

  • Addiction to alcohol or drugs

  • Abuse of a child, either physically or psychologically

  • In-home domestic abuse

  • Problems in mental health

  • Neglect

An L.A. Family Lawyer will normally file a motion for sole custody or a reversal of primary custody in response to these claims. Restraining orders can be issued against the accused parent, with only supervised visitation—if any—permitted. Children are dragged into the middle, subjected to psychiatric tests, and possibly forced to testify about a parent's intoxication, substance use, psychotic episodes, or abusive conduct.

If a settlement cannot be reached, you will need professional and aggressive legal representation in court if your child's welfare is at risk or joint custody is at stake. If a child's safety is really in jeopardy, a Los Angeles Family Lawyer will take steps to protect him or her from more violence or trauma and assist the client in documenting the negative actions. If the charges are made up as a ruse to gain custody, a prosecutor will work to prove that the child has never been abused or that there is no credible proof that the child is in danger.

Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.


Adults other than the child's parents may exercise absolute or partial authority to make decisions on the child's behalf in all matters relating to living arrangements, legal decisions, schooling, property, and financial affairs as a legal guardian of a minor child. This is valid for both long-term and emergency or temporary guardianship appointments.

When the court appoints a guardian, the child's parents forfeit their right to supervise, care for, or take custody of the child for the duration of the guardianship. Parents can, however, retain the right to fair visitation. They may also be expected to pay child care to the child's guardian for the child's upkeep.

When the parents are unable or unable to care for their children, or when the parents willingly agree to guardianship, a guardian may be named. When both parents of a child pass away, it is common to name a guardian. Guardianship could be necessary if the parents are deemed incompetent or neglectful.

Other reasons for creating guardianship include:

  • The parents' extreme physical or mental condition

  • Military parents who are stationed in another country

  • Parents who are alcoholics or drug addicts

  • Parents who have gone missing

  • Parents that have been convicted of crimes that have resulted in prison

  • Abusive parents

If the child has one parent who can still behave as a responsible parent, these reasons may not apply. Only if it is in the child's best interests can a guardian be appointed by the California courts. Guardianship will be terminated when the parents can care for their children again.

What is the difference between guardianship and custody in California?

The key distinction between custody and guardianship is the child's parentage: custody refers to which parent is responsible for the child, while legal guardianship refers to anyone who is not the biological parent. If a child is still in their parents' care, he or she might be under the guardianship of someone else.

Who Can Be Appointed as a Guardian?

Any adult who is eligible to raise a child, such as relatives, family members, neighbors, or someone else whose appointment will promote the child's best interests, may become a guardian. The court will supervise you after you have been appointed as a guardian. You may be named as the child's guardian, the child's estate guardian, or both.

You will have the same rights and duties as a parent as the legal guardian of a child, including the ability to take legal and physical custody of the child and to make decisions about the child's physical and emotional well-being, protection, education, and health care.

How can you obtain legal guardianship in California?

To become a guardian, you must file paperwork with the court and follow a series of procedures, which include:

  • Notify specific individuals (such as the child's parents), friends, and organizations.

  • Obtain from the server completed proof of operation forms and file them with the court.

  • Sign a consent and waiver of notice form for anyone who agrees.

  • Speak with the court prosecutor, who will write a report on the investigation.

  • Attend a hearing in court.

  • Your court order should be filed with the clerk.

  • Report on the progress of the project.

An experienced California Family Lawyer will ensure that all legal forms are completed correctly and that your case is properly represented in court.

Move-Away Cases

As life changes, one parent may wish to relocate and move away from the area where he or she is raising a child. Moving out of state with a child from the Los Angeles area normally affects all parents' custody rights and parenting time and usually necessitates a court order alteration.

Is it Possible to Move Away With Your Children After a Divorce?

Moving on in your life without your ex-spouse is an important part of getting through your divorce. This could include relocating outside of Los Angeles to find a new career, be closer to home, or simply seek new opportunities. But how would you do that if you and your ex-partner had children together?

The value of children maintaining communication with both parents is recognized by the statute. If you have primary custody of your children, however, the California Family Code specifies that you have the right to choose where they will live. This enables you to relocate with your children if you so choose. Your ex-spouse will object to the change, but he or she would have to prove that moving away will be detrimental to your children in order to adjust your custody arrangement to accommodate it.

Even so, the court can interpret your desire to leave as a failure to recognize the important role your ex-spouse continues to play in your children's lives. If you can negotiate with your ex-spouse to obtain his or her permission, you can increase your chances of being allowed to move without having to change your custody agreement. This will most certainly include devising a visitation schedule that relieves him or her of the bulk of the travel costs.

What if you have shared custody of your children? The California Judicial Branch notes that when deciding custody, the court considers the actual time your children spend with you and your ex, not the exact language of your arrangement. If it is discovered that the children spend the majority of their time with you, it can be determined that you have primary custody and therefore allow you to relocate.

What the Court Looks for When It Comes to Relocation Requests?

The parent who wishes to transfer must have a valid reason for doing so, such as a new job, family support, or remarriage, and the relocation must be in the child's best interests. A parent who opposes the change must also demonstrate harm to the child or a desire to exclude the noncustodial parent from the photo.

The law and lawsuits surrounding relocation are very complicated. While parental relocation defies clear legal solutions, our Los Angeles Family Lawyers will assist you in negotiating a reasonable solution to a difficult situation. They can defend your claims and your child's best interests in family court whether the other parent is irrational or has impure motives for pursuing or challenging a move.

Hague Abduction Convention

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which entered into force on October 25, 1980, is a multilateral treaty that specifically discusses international abductions and spells out remedies. The treaty's aim is to provide clear guidelines about what should happen if there are disputes over child custody between parents who live in separate countries.

Despite these efforts, there is a great deal of bureaucracy in these situations. Some countries may not be protected by the convention in some cases, leading to even more uncertainty about what will happen in a custody dispute.

In these types of situations, there are a variety of problems, including:

  • Kidnapping

  • Wrongful detention (a refusal to return a child to the U.S. after a visitation abroad)

Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), legitimate interstate custody conflicts can be resolved. Including:

  • Kidnapping situations in which an abused child is abducted and brought to the United States.

  • Global or cross-country parent relocation petitions

  • Custody changes for parents who live in different states or countries

Both parents are obligated by California law to support their children until the child reaches the age of 18, and is no longer a full-time high school student, marries, dies, or becomes legally emancipated.

Many divorcing or separating couples find it difficult to determine how much child support is required, which is usually measured using complicated mathematical formulas. When deciding the correct child support amount, the courts weigh a number of variables, so if you're facing a child support negotiation, it's a good idea to keep these considerations in mind.

When assessing child support responsibilities in California, the courts weigh multiple factors, including:

  • Parents' earnings

    • The parents' individual incomes are one of the most important influences. Both the mother's and the father's gross profits are considered.

  • Number of children

    • The cost of caring for children rises in tandem with the number of children. The court would consider the number of mutual children and adjust the assistance sum accordingly.

  • Primary address

    • When it comes to child custody, it's common for one parent to be designated as the primary caregiver, which is considered when measuring assistance. The parent who provides the majority of the care is also determined by where each child spends most of their time.

  • Time for non-primary visitation

    • The commitment of the non-primary caregiver to use their visitation rights is weighed. The judge scrutinizes the amount of time this other parent spends with their children.

  • Medical needs

    • When deciding on child support, the healthcare needs of one or more children are often considered, particularly if the child has a genetic disorder, a chronic illness, or another disability.

  • Travel costs for a visit

    • If there is a significant period or gap between the parents and their children, visitation costs will arise, which can be factored into calculating a fair child support sum.

  • Other sources of income

    • Many people nowadays earn money from several sources, and a judge would demand to see all of it. Government aid, cash transfers, stocks/bonds, trust funds, seasonal jobs, self-employment income, and other sources of income can all be considered.

    • Although the formula is used to determine child support, it can still be a contentious issue in divorce, particularly when the parties' true income is disputed. An attorney's job is to ensure that funding is equitable and based on reliable data. Our Los Angeles Family Lawyer works hard to ensure that the child support formula accurately represents both parties' financial circumstances.

    • For example, you and your L.A. Family Lawyer need to figure out how much a spouse earns whether he or she is self-employed or paid in cash. Your California Family Lawyer may hire a forensic accountant to assist us in calculating the correct income or uncovering a source of income that was not disclosed to the court. If a spouse's income varies seasonally or year to year, you need to measure an average income.

It may be appropriate to impute income to a parent who is unemployed but capable of working to earn money. The parent who believes the other parent is financially capable of paying child support but is "under-earning" must show their true earning potential. Expert testimony from a vocational evaluation expert is often required in such cases.

What does child support entail in California?

Child support payments don't just cater to a child's basic needs. Food, shelter, and clothes should all be considered basic necessities. Payments for child care are often used for enrichment or non-essential items that would improve the child's life in any way. This might include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • After-school programs

  • Sports or clubs

  • Excursions

  • Fees for applications

  • Fees for medical services

However, there are certain costs that child support benefits would almost certainly not be able to afford. Also, with the aid of support payments, extracurricular activities can often fall by the wayside if primary activities are too expensive. Furthermore, these funds cannot be used on something that does not specifically benefit the infant, such as clothes, jewelry, or entertainment devices for the benefit of others.

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Spousal Support

In your marriage, both you and your partner play an important role. For the sake of your families, you both contribute and make sacrifices. When your marriage seems to be on the verge of ending, you may be concerned about how you can make ends meet after moving from two to one income.

Factors that can influence the amount of spousal support awarded

Many considerations come into play in determining whether or not support would be granted in a given case in California. While the spousal support obligation ends with the divorce, the courts have acknowledged that a continuing obligation to provide post-divorce financial support to a former partner is required if they lack the financial resources to maintain the marital standard of living after the divorce.

The following are some of the considerations that courts must consider when deciding on spousal support issues:

  • The duration of the marriage

  • Each spouse's earning potential

  • The parties' ages and their ability to work

  • For the sake of the marriage, job prospects were turned down

  • Any required training or preparation for one partner to re-enter the workforce

The sum and period of funding are therefore left to the court's discretion. This makes it important to have an L.A. Family Law Attorney by your side who is familiar with spousal support laws to ensure that you are making a convincing case to the court about why your unique demands should be granted.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence and civil harassment are both types of harassment that include verbal or physical assault. The variations are seen in the two parties' relationships. Domestic abuse is the behavior between people in a qualifying relationship, while civil harassment is defined as behavior between nonfamily members.

Domestic Violence in the State of California

Survivors of domestic violence or civil harassment will ask the court for a restraining order. Under this legal order, the attacker is prohibited from contacting the victim, going near the victim's house, or entering the victim's workplace. Violation of a restraining order in California will result in severe consequences for the abuser.

False accusations of rape, on the other hand, may be devastating. Our prescreened Los Angeles Family Lawyers also represent individuals accused of domestic abuse or assault who have been wrongly accused. In family law cases, there is a presumption that a party who has been convicted of domestic abuse should not be given child custody rights.

As a result, there are unfortunate situations where one spouse falsely accuses the other of domestic abuse to achieve an advantage in child custody or divorce proceedings. Our L.A. Family Lawyers will assist you in navigating the process of defending against such false claims of rape.

Restraining Orders

In California, domestic abuse is a serious issue. Abuse, whether physical, emotional, or mental, has affected many families. Some people live in silence, while others take steps to stop the abuse by seeking a restraining order, which may result in criminal punishment for those who violate it.

How can you get a restraining order in Los Angeles?

To get a restraining order in Los Angeles, you must go to the California Supreme Court and ask for one (free of cost). The first order you'll get is a temporary restraining order (TRO), which will last three weeks before your court date. The outcome of the court hearing will decide whether you will be granted a more permanent restraining order that will last approximately three years. The court should grant the TRO request the same day or the next day.

A copy of the TRO must be served on the defendant after you obtain it (by anyone above the age of 18). To be implemented, a Proof of Service must be sent to the nearest LAPD station after the offender has been served.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

The last thing that prospective spouses want to consider is the probability that their marriage will end, as well as the plan and contingencies relevant to such a worst-case scenario. However, if a couple is unable to have serious discussions about money, property, and finances prior to marriage, the chances of their marriage succeeding are slim.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Contracts

  • A prenuptial agreement

    • Before getting married, prospective newlyweds sign a contract. After the parties are legally married, the terms of the prenuptial agreement become effective and binding. Prenuptial arrangements usually control financial matters between the parties.

  • A postnuptial agreement

    • It's similar to a prenuptial agreement, except it's written after a couple marries or forms a domestic relationship. A postnuptial agreement, like a prenuptial agreement, can help couples prepare financially, and in the case of a divorce, it can make the divorce process run more smoothly.

  • Transmutation agreements

    • These are used to modify the way a property is classified (for example, from community property to separate property or from separate property to community property). Under California law, a legal and enforceable transmutation agreement must meet some clear criteria, which is where our prescreened California Family Law Attorneys can help you navigate the process.

Appeals in Family Law

When determining whether or not to appeal, you must balance the possible benefits of doing so against the cost. When deciding whether or not to take the case to a higher court, several considerations must be weighed, including:

  • Fresh information or evidence that is relevant to the problems and the final decision, such as the discovery of secret marital properties in a property settlement

  • The court's inability to take into account relevant evidence that might have swayed the outcome

  • Ineffective legal representation

  • You think there were other legal blunders.

  • Misapplication of the rules by the court

In addition, the appeals process is time-consuming. Would an appeal be successful given the length of the process? An appeal of a child custody decision involving a 17-year-old child, for example, could be futile due to the length of time it takes the appeals court to reach a decision. The child may have turned 18 by then, making the matter moot.

What Happens During the Appeals Process?

After receiving the lower court's decision, you must file a petition with the appellate court within a specific deadline to begin the appeals process. This date usually gives you 30 days to register. Your right to appeal will be lost if you do not file within the specified time frame.

The appellate court will not hold a new trial in the case of an appeal. The appellate court can only look at the lower court's proceedings and see whether there are any reasons for the appeal to be approved. The appellate court will consider all motions filed before the lower court, all testimony heard by the court, and a copy of the trial while reviewing the lower court's record.

The appeals court will consider legal briefs filed by both the council and the opposing attorney. Appellate briefs will argue each side's case, laying out whether and how the decision was incorrect using convincing arguments. Both parties may also make oral arguments to the appellate court.

Find The Best Family Law Attorney Lawyer in Los Angeles is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to a Los Angeles Family Lawyer best fit to handle their case. You can contact us through our 24/7 Live Chat (or fulfill our submission form) for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.


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