Areas of Practice
Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)
California is a “no fault” divorce State, which means that one spouse may obtain a divorce even if the other spouse does not agree to the divorce. The spouse that is requesting the divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong. The spouse requesting the divorce may file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage stating that the couple has irreconcilable differences leading to the permanent breakdown of the marriage and that one of the spouses was a resident of the State of California for the last six months and the County in which the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed for the last three months.
Marital Settlement Agreements
If you and your spouse agree on how to divide your property and resolve the other issues in your divorce, you may decide to settle your case by way of a Marital Settlement Agreement. This is an option that allows both parties to agree on the various issues of their divorce without the need for any hearings. There are many documents that are required by California law to be filed and served before you can file a Marital Settlement Agreement. The attorneys at Aitchison & Emery can prepare all the documents necessary for a Marital Settlement Agreement and to keep your case out of Court.
For those who have irreconcilable differences but do not want to terminate their marital status, legal separation may provide a solution. This option may allow one spouse to continue being covered on the other spouse’s health insurance. With legal separation, the spouses divide their property and obtain custody and support orders just like a divorce. However, since marital status is not terminated with a legal separation, neither spouse is legally able to re-marry as they are with a divorce.
An annulment or “nullity of marriage” is when the Court says your marriage is not legally valid. After an annulment, it is like your marriage never happened because it was never legal. Some grounds for annulment include fraud, force, bigamy and physical incapacity.
Child Custody & Visitation
Child custody and visitation can be an extremely emotional and difficult situation. If you have an agreement regarding custody and visitation of your child, the attorneys at Aitchison & Emery can halp you prepare and file a Stipulation and Order with the Court. If not, you will be required to attend mediation with a Child Custody Recommending Counselor (CCRC.) If you do not reach an agreement with the Child Custody Recommending Counselor, a Judge or Commissioner will decide this issue based upon the best interest of the child. Legal assistance is highly recommended in this case. The attorneys at Aitchison & Emery can help you obtain and maintain a custodial arrangement that is best for your child.
If the parents of a child were never married, either parent may file a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship to allow the parent to request child custody, support, or visitation rights. Paternity can be established through an order or by signing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity at the time of birth. The Department of Child Support Services may also assist in establishing paternity, at no cost.
There are times when one parent of a child wishes to move to another County or State. In many cases, the moving parent will need to obtain a move-away order before they may legally move the child away from the other parent.
Child support is the amount of money that a Court orders a parent to pay every month to help pay for the support of the child and the child’s living expenses. The Department of Child Support Services is available to help you obtain, modify and collect child support at no charge. The attorneys at Aitchison & Emery can help you make sure that the amount of child support that is ordered is the correct amount mandated by California law.
When a couple legally separates or divorces, the Court may order one spouse to pay the other a certain amount of money each month. This is called “spousal support” and is sometimes also called “alimony.” These payments can be required for a temporary allotted time or indefinitely until the supported spouse can get back on their feet financially. Spousal support can present difficult legal issues and legal representation is generally recommended.
Are you looking to modify a Court order? With the help of the attorneys at Aitchison & Emery, you may be able to modify your child support, custody, visitation or spousal support order. To set an appointment to discuss the grounds for modification, call our firm today.
One of the most highly contested issues in divorce is the division of property, assets and debts. California is a community property state and there is a presumption that property acquired during the marriage belongs to both of the spouses. However, there are times when assets or debts acquired during the marriage may be the separate property of one spouse. The attorneys at Aitchison & Emery can help you determine the characterization of your assets and debts so that you may obtain an equitable division of property.
In some cases neither parent is able to provide proper care of a child, or it is not in the child’s best interest to live with a parent. In these situation, a guardianship may help.
Under certain circumstances, grandparents may be entitled to visitation with their grandchildren. If you would like to learn about your visitation rights as a grandparent, make an appointment with the attorneys at Aitchison & Emery today.
If the other parent has abandoned your child for at least a year with no contact and no provision for support, and your new spouse wishes to adopt, you may be eligible for a step-parent adoption. If the adopted person is over the age of 18 years, the adoption process is simple, quick and inexpensive.
Domestic violence is abuse or threats of abuse when the person being abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, living together, or having a child together, or are closely related by blood or by marriage such as family members. Domestic Violence includes behavior such as harassing, stalking, threatening, or hitting someone, disturbing someone’s peace, or destroying someone’s personal property. The attorneys at Aitchison & Emery may help you obtain or defend against a restraining order under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, depending upon the circumstances.