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2010: Frequently Asked Questions

In San Diego, many persons going through a divorce, paternity, legal separation or nullity have the same questions. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding nullity, divorce, paternity and legal separation however there are many others.

Where are the court houses?
In San Diego, there are several court houses in which the Judges hear divorce, legal separation, nullity and paternity cases. The main court house is in San Diego and there are also two courts in the Madge Bradley court house downtown as well as three courts at the main courthouse at 220 West Broadway which hear DCSS cases. In addition, the court houses in El Cajon. Vista and Chula Vista also have courts which hear these matters.

What is the difference between a divorce and legal separation?
A divorce and legal separation are very similar with one exception: in a legal separation the parties are still legally married and cannot remarry without a divorce judgment. In both divorce and legal separation, the court will make orders regarding custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, division of assets and debts as well as attorney fees and temporary restraining orders.

What does paternity mean?
Paternity is a term used when a father and mother are not married at time of birth or time of conception of their child. A complaint to establish a paternal relationship is filed to obtain a judgment of paternity so that the father has legal rights.

What is a nullity?
A nullity is when a married person asks the Court to make a finding that the marriage was not valid. This can be when one party was already married or when there was fraud however the fraud normally has to be concerning procreation. Nullity is disfavored under the law however this can be petitioned when the facts warrant.

How is the parenting plan decided?
In San Diego, there is mandatory mediation with family court services and these are licensed social workers hired by the Court to meet with both parents [and sometimes the children] and then write a recommendation which is given to both parents and the Judge. The Judge follows the mediators recommendation most of the time.

How long does it take to get a divorce?
In San Diego, to obtain a judgment of divorce there must be a 180 day period which starts upon the date of service of the petition and summons or the date the response is filed. In many cases, a marital settlement agreement and judgment can be obtained before this date so that all issues, with the exception of the marital status, are resolved.

How is child support calculated?
In San Diego, the Judges on the family law bench use a computer program called the Disso Master. This runs the “guideline” child support amount and most Judges do not deviate from this without specific statutory authority. This program is used for divorce, legal separation and paternity cases. The Judges on the DCSS bench use a different program but the amounts are very similar.

How is spousal support calculated?
In San Diego, the Judges use the disso master program [in many cases] for temporary spousal support {pre judgment} but for permanent spousal support {post judgment} the Judges use the factors under Family Law Code Section 4320.

How long with child support be ordered?
In most cases, child support terminates when the child reaches the age of 18 and graduated high school or 19 if not graduated before then. If the child has “special needs” then this date can be extended.

How long with spousal support be ordered?
In most case, is the marriage is less than 10 years in duration, the maximum time is one half the duration of the marriage. In cases with a marriage over 10 years in duration, it can be more than one half the duration of the marriage.

Please feel free to contact us for your complimentary and confidential consultation.

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