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In San Diego, the term family law is most commonly used to mean a combination of issues which are presented in a divorce, legal separation or annulment. Family law includes custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, attorney fees, business interests, community property issues, death of a spouse, domestic partners, domestic violence, employment benefits, enforcement of orders, family residence, real property, personal property, income tax, UCCJEA, interstate custody and visitation orders, jurisdiction, marital status, pre nuptial agreements, procedure before trial and procedure after trial. The term family law therefore is comprised of many different laws and procedures. Our San Diego family law lawyers can guide you through each of them.
In San Diego, there are several courts in which these issues are heard by the Court: two in San Diego downtown; one in Vista; one in Chula Vista and one in El Cajon. The term has come into its own since the inception of divorce when in San Diego, California there was fault divorce. At this time, the division of assets and debts could be unequal depending on the conduct and actions of one or both of the parties. Today, there is no fault divorce in San Diego. There are still rare instances when there is an unequal division of assets and debts such as in a negative asset case [debts are more than assets] or in a breach of fiduciary duty [one party takes unfair advantage of the other in specific factual patterns]. Today, family law is used to encompass all of the areas of today's practice in divorce, legal separation and annulment.
Family law tries to take into account the "global" practice of the areas above. It is crucial for a family law lawyer in San Diego to have a working knowledge of all of the areas listed above and their correlation and relationship to each other. For example, there is an inverse relationship between the percentage of custody and visitation and the amount of child support. There is a lot of discretion as to the parenting plan however almost no discretion as to the amount of child support which is "guideline" and by state law. There are exceptions to the guidelines and deviations are permitted in limited circumstances. This analysis is extremely complex when multiple issues have multiple and different effects on other issues. This is why an experienced attorney can suggest strategies and techniques in order to try and protect your rights and try and obtain your goals. These are based upon the attorney's education, training and experience. It is very important to hire an attorney who is familiar with the local rules as the procedural posture before and after trial is different in each locality. It is also important to have an attorney who appears regularly in the court in which your case is.
Family law also is comprised of the procedure in each case: filing of the petition; case classification conference; case management conference; mandatory settlement conference and trial if no settlement is reached. In each case, there needs to be an analysis of the issues and what a realistic expectation of the outcome will be under the law. No attorney can guarantee the outcome of any case. No attorney has the authority or power to make any orders. An attorney who has been before the same Judge for the same issues on previous occasions and knows the law can try and give a client a realistic expectation of what the law would state and what a Judge would do. An example of this is child support and the Court has the Dissomaster program on their bench and the attorneys have the Dissomaster program in their offices. By having the same computer program as the state law, family law attorneys in San Diego can calculate child support in their offices and give clients a realistic expectation of the child support amount. This avoids unnecessary litigation and attorney fees and costs. In the same manner, an attorney can assist in a realistic expectation of the division of assets and debts and spousal support. Custody and visitation, however, has a lot of discretion and the outcome of this is more difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy.
Family law also takes into account new spouses, children with a new spouse or someone other than the party in the divorce and other future issues. For example, an experienced attorney will advise clients after their judgment is entered that they need to prepare a new estate plan. In some instances, this estate plan may need to be executed during the family law proceedings. It is important to hire a law firm and attorney which practices in family law so that the procedures can be implemented as smoothly as possible for the transition of the legal status of married to the legal status of single.
Contact Us Online or call us at 858-312-8500 in Southern California. We will be pleased to offer you a complimentary and confidential consultation up to a length of 30 minutes to discuss strategies and techniques to assist in protecting your rights and trying to obtain your legal goals. Our experienced San Diego family law attorneys can assist you with the following matters: