Santa Maria Divorce: An Overview
Santa Maria Divorce & Family Lawyer, M. Marshall, protects and advances her clients’ rights and interests in the divorce process, hammering out a parenting plan for Shared Joint Custody and Visitation, or making certain that the spouse with the lesser income gets a fair and equitable Spousal Support arrangement. Mellanie helps clients throughout the Santa Maria area and beyond with all manner of family law proceedings, whether at the bargaining table in a Divorce Mediation, or in the courtroom in a traditional trial setting.
Divorce Mediation, and Litigation
Different couples take different paths to arrive at a divorce settlement. A divorce is a legal process which begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of marriage in court and becomes final when the court enters a decree granting the divorce. Depending upon the complexity of issues at trial, the hostility of the parties toward one other, and the valuation of property and its characterization as community property or separate property, this process can be costly, time-consuming, and emotionally devastating.
That cost-effective alternative to litigation, Divorce Mediation is a process where spouses work out their differences between themselves with the assistance of a trained mediator who facilitates communication, compromise and agreement.
Santa Maria Divorce Attorney, M. Marshall, is experienced in both approaches, and can help you determine which method is best for you.
Legal Separation in Santa Maria, CA
Gaining a legal separation (also known as a marital separation or divorce separation) in California requires much the same process as does getting a divorce. You have your attorney petition the court and serve your spouse with legal notice. A California resident can get a legal separation and have the agreement cover all aspects of the relationship except that it does not change the marital status. Why would someone want a Legal Separation? Most commonly, a Legal Separation is desirable when one of the spouses wants to stay married for religious reasons; wants the advantage of deductibility of spousal support payments for income tax purposes, or wants to maintain various insurance coverages.
A divorce may be based on the “no-fault” ground of irreconcilable differences between the parties, which does not require one party to prove fault or misconduct on the part of the other spouse. Contact Divorce Lawyer in Santa Maria: M. Marshall.
Classification of property is an important step in the division process. The court has jurisdiction only over the community property of the marital estate, defined as any asset acquired or income earned by a spouse during the marriage. A spouse’s separate property is property acquired before the marriage, as well as gifts or inheritances acquired during marriage by one spouse alone.
The job of the court is to divide all of the marital property as equally as possible. Obviously, some assets such as a single automobile or a marital home that is shared by both spouses cannot be divided equally unless they are sold and the proceeds then divided between the parties. The court may award different assets of roughly equivalent value to the parties. For these reasons, valuation questions are often sticking points and can often become quite contentious.
Child Custody in Santa Maria
In a divorce case, the court will make decisions as to both legal and physical custody of minor children. Legal custody is defined as the right to make decisions about the child, while physical custody is defined as having actual custodial care. Custody can be sole or joint, depending upon many factors affecting the best interest of the child. The court will take into account many issues including any history of domestic violence.
In the case where sole custody is the outcome, a visitation plan will be hammered out that will specify when and how long the child will reside with each parent. When deemed necessary, the court might order visitation to be supervised either by a professional outside agency, another adult, or the custodial parent. In the most extreme situations, the court may deny visitation rights altogether.
Generally, the court will order the higher earning parent to pay a monthly support amount to the parent with less income. In most cases the parent with primary physical custody will be the recipient of child support. This obligation will continue until a child reaches the age of 19, reaches the age of 18 and is no longer a full-time high school student, marries, becomes an emancipated minor or dies. The amount of support is calculated according to a statutory guideline that takes into account a number of factors but can be challenged by requesting a modification of support order by your attorney.
While spouses have an inherent obligation to financially support each other during a marriage, the goal with an order of spousal support — also known as alimony or spousal maintenance — is that the party receiving spousal support will become self-supporting within a determined period of time. Support can terminate earlier if the receiving party remarries, and sometimes if the party cohabits with another an the paying spouse has their attorney seek a modification. Whether or not spousal support will be granted and how much will be ordered is based upon a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, the age and health of the spouses, the unique needs of each spouse, and the calculated expenses related to the adequate support of the children.
A party can bring an action to establish or challenge paternity at any time, although it is typically used during child support proceedings where issues of custody and visitation are being decided.
Premarital Agreements or “Prenuptial Agreements” allow spouses to decide — prior to marriage — how issues of property division and potential future support will be handled in the event of divorce. A premarital agreement must be in writing and must be signed by both parties in order to be valid. Moreover, it must be agreed to voluntarily after a full and fair disclosure of the assets and liabilities of both spouses. Each party (each spouse) must be represented by an attorney in the transaction or at least have the opportunity to have the agreement reviewed by independent legal counsel before signing and if they do not seek independent counsel so state and agree that they had the opportunity but declined. Such agreements are time sensitive and require advanced planning before your wedding date.
Santa Maria Divorce Lawyer M. Marshall is experienced in all areas of Santa Maria Family and Divorce Law and can provide you with the best representation possible. We are here to support you in circumstances such as:
Contact a Santa Maria Family Law / Santa Maria Divorce Attorney Today
To find out how an experienced Santa Maria Family Law Attorney can assist you and your family, contact me, Attorney M. Marshall today. Call me at (805) 709-1824.