Family Law

Divorce

Since California is a no-fault divorce state, divorce cases are filed on the grounds of incompatibility. That means neither spouse is obligated to prove the grounds for the divorce. Although the grounds for divorce are straightforward, the issues arising from the proceedings are complex.

For example, many people worry about bills going unpaid or assets disappearing. California law provides for protection against these and other financial problems that frequently arise while the divorce case is pending–but legal expertise is required to gain that protection. Our firm has a proven record of fighting aggressively for our clients’ rights–both to receive support and to preserve assets even before a judge grants the divorce.

Whether you are concerned about child custody, finding, valuing, and dividing assets, future financial security, or other difficult legal issues, our firm has the knowledge, expertise, and determination to provide the aggressive representation you need.

Child Custody

The most important issue in most divorces is the well-being of the children. California law requires that custody orders be made in the best interests of the child, with physical custody defining which days and which nights the children spend with each parent.

In many cases the courts award joint legal custody to the divorcing parents. That means both parents are equally and jointly responsible for making the important decisions affecting the well-being of their children.

Our law firm has valuable experience helping our clients fight for their custodial rights, and we use all the legal tools at our disposal. These may include engaging court-sponsored mediation services and private settlement facilitators, or hiring experts to perform custody evaluations, or, if necessary, litigating trials for our clients.

Our child custody litigation experience includes complex jurisdiction disputes in which the parents live in different states, with different sets of rules applying to child custody law. We also litigate international jurisdiction and abduction cases in Federal court. In short, no case is too complex for our firm.

Child Support

Child support in California is based on a complicated formula which takes into account the following:

  • the income of both parents and their tax situations;
  • the physical custody arrangement;
  • the health-care costs for the children;
  • work related day-care costs;
  • other certain exceptional expenses.

Determining the proper amounts for each one of these factors can be an intricate and contentious process, and it often results in litigation.

Alimony

California is an alimony state. The California Family Law Code and appellate court cases interpreting those codes offer numerous factors that a judge may consider when asked to award alimony.

The evidence must prove that the spouse seeking alimony has a need for the support and that the other spouse has the ability to pay it. In determining whether to award alimony, and the amount if alimony is granted, judges consider many factors, including:

  • the parties’ marital standard of living;
  • the length of the marriage;
  • the work history during the marriage;
  • the parties’ employment prospects in the future;
  • the ages and health of the parties;
  • the value of the marital assets divided and distributed as part of the divorce.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In assisting our clients, we often find it useful to explore settling a divorce case away from the courthouse setting. We have vast experience in settling cases, or parts of cases in mediation or settlement facilitation. Moreover, Mr. Brock has frequently been appointed as a settlement mediator by family law court judges to assist other lawyers in settling their clients’ cases.

We have found over the years that the best approach to settling a case is to prepare as though the case were going to trial. That way, our clients know the possibilities, risks, and potential costs of going to trial, and they can realistically evaluate settlement proposals and counter proposals.

Collaborative Law

A new area in family law, collaborative law uses a team-based approach to resolving divorce issues. The team is composed of a lawyer and a communications coach for each party, one licensed financial advisor, and, when children are involved, a childhood development specialist.

Litigation is not always required in a divorce case and sometimes is not the best strategy. When both parties to the divorce are open and honest, collaborative law allows them to develop the best resolution for their family. In addition, a collaborative agreement may cost less than a traditional divorce.

Paternity Cases

A paternity lawsuit is filed to establish the rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents. In California, generally, no distinction is made between unmarried parents and those who were married.

Unmarried parents, including fathers, retain the same rights and bear the same responsibilities as parents who were married. In general, legal and physical custodial rights are the same as in a divorce, and obligations regarding child support are also the same.

Our firm has extensive experience representing both mothers and fathers in paternity cases.

Property Division

California is a community property state. Once married, both spouses are equal partners in a legal community. Most of the income earned, the assets acquired, and the debts accumulated are community property. The statutory exceptions to this law include property owned prior to marriage, inherited property, and property received as a gift.

The first step in dividing community property is to identify and locate the property. Next, the legal character of the property has to be determined. This is often a difficult puzzle requiring expertise in tracing and accounting, contract law, and employment law. Furthermore, successful completion of these cases can require extensive investigation and create volumes of unwieldy documentation.

Once the character of the property has been determined, it must be valued. This, too, is often a very complicated process, especially with the existence of retirement and pension plans, employee stock-option plans, certain personal assets, and businesses and business interests.

We have the ability and the resolve to fight for our clients and ensure they receive all the rights they are entitled to under the law, or to ensure they do not pay more than they are legally obligated to pay.