Frequently Asked Questions
Commonly Asked Family Law Questions
Why do I need a lawyer?
The laws relating to families have changed dramatically over the past few decades, becoming increasingly complex. Laws continue to be reexamined and changed by judges and legislators as the legal issues in divorces, child custody disputes, child support, domestic violence, and other family law matters evolve to reflect our ever changing society.
Family law has become entangled in national debates over family structure, gender bias, and morality. Few legal areas are as emotionally charged as family law, primarily for the parties, but also for the lawyers and judges involved in cases and even the public at large. This is particularly true in divorce, which remains a contentious and ever-changing area in law, constantly changing as families and society evolve.
Keeping up with these changes is challenging, as it requires constant monitoring of new cases and laws. Having an attorney on your side helps ensure your case is presented with the most up to date legal basis available. Family law attorneys can provide valuable counsel and objective representation in what is often one of the most emotionally charged situations a person can face.
What is the legal divorce process like?
Although some divorces are very simple and can be handled with a minimum amount of delay, most divorces are far more difficult and may take many different courses.
The length of the process depends mainly on the parties’ willingness to work together and compromise as well as the level of cooperation between their respective attorneys. A consultation with our offices will ensure you know your options, so that we can guide you down the path that is right for you.
How is the amount of child support calculated?
In California, child support is based on a complex calculation that takes into consideration the parents’ incomes, how much time each parent spends with the child, and any tax deductions that are available to either parent. This guideline calculation is designed to ensure each parent contributes to their child’s needs while providing uniformity in the calculation of child support. Deviations from the guideline calculation are available only in limited and specific situations; for example, when the paying parent has extraordinarily high income or the child has special needs requiring a higher level of support.
How does a court decide which parent will get custody of a child?
When the parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the court will make the decision for them after considering all of the circumstances, the evidence presented and information about the parties, with the overriding consideration being the child’s best interests.
When deciding what is in the child’s best interests, the court will consider:
- The child’s age and physical or mental health
- The parents’ physical and mental health;
- The parents’ lifestyles
- Any history of abuse
- The emotional bonds between the parent and the child
- The parent’s ability to give the child guidance
- The parent’s ability to provide the basic life necessities
- The child’s routines, including home, school, and activities
- The willingness of one parent to encourage a healthy relationship with the other parent
- If the child is above a certain age, the child’s preference.
Under what circumstances will the court award spousal support?
The obligation of spouses to support each other does not necessarily end when they divorce. If the divorce will leave one spouse with very little income and the other with enough to contribute to the low-income spouse’s support, the court will usually award alimony, at least temporarily.
Historically, spousal maintenance was typically awarded to homemaker wives, to be paid by breadwinning husbands, but today, that is not always the case. Now, either spouse may be awarded alimony if the specific facts and circumstances of their situation support such an award.
Spousal support will often be temporary, providing income for the period of time that will enable the recipient spouse to become self-supporting. However, this award may be permanent if one spouse is unable to get a job paying a sufficient wage, due to health issues or advanced age. The amount and duration of alimony depends on several factors, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The age of each spouse
- The health of each spouse
- The ability of each spouse to be self-supporting, with minor children factored in
- The income of the primary breadwinner
- Standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage.
What kinds of assets are divided in divorce?
It is not always easy for a spouse to identify all of the assets that may be available for valuation and division, especially if the other spouse is less than forthcoming with the details. This is where the parties’ lawyers can help. Through the legal process called discovery, the parties’ attorneys exchange documents and information that reveal income, assets, and liabilities. Documents such as tax returns, personal financial statements, bank account statements, brokerage house records, real estate records, loan applications, and business records are used to establish the parties’ financial situation.
The parties in a divorce can agree to the division of all marital or community property they own. This generally includes most of the property the couple acquired during the marriage, including, but not limited to, any real property they own, home furnishings and appliances; artwork; vehicles; money and investments; pensions; businesses and even intangible property such an invention, celebrity status or name, or goodwill. If the parties’ can’t agree how to divide their property, a Judge will make those decisions for them.
Many times, the asset division portion of divorce is when real emotions are raised and objectivity is lost. This is why it is so important to have someone like Sue A. Moravec advocating for you and working to come up with an agreement that is complete, fair and one all parties can support.
How do I arrange for an initial consult?
You are invited to contact Sue A. Moravec by phone or via email. She can be reached Monday through Friday at 818-990-2022 or 661.235.5300, or at your convenience, via firstname.lastname@example.org. Your questions are always confidential. You may arrange an initial consult to review your needs, so you and Ms. Moravec can discuss together whether her practice can best support your goals.
What financial arrangements are available?
Sue A. Moravec provides a clear, concise legal representation letter and contract to each client, and she is happy to review this, along with any questions or concerns you may have, in advance of your signing and intention to proceed. In support of her commitment to excellent communications, her standard practice is to advise clients in advance of the costs anticipated, outlining an initial assessment of what, if any, filing fees, court costs, and legal fees should be anticipated. She will also keep clients informed in advance of the financial impact any changes they request may have on their anticipated legal costs.