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What Legal Services Do We Provide?

Divorce Proceedings:

Divorce proceedings terminate a marriage and establish agreements and orders allowing former spouses to move forward with their lives separately.  Individuals going through a divorce must establish child custody arrangements, child and spousal support orders, must value and divide assets and liabilities, and resolve other complicated issues.  In California, either spouse can seek a divorce when irreconcilable differences have caused the breakdown of a marriage.  Six months after a divorce proceeding is initiated, a couple’s marital status can be terminated, allowing them to become legally single.  Other issues in the divorce may take more or less time to resolve, depending on the complexity of the issues presented.  

Our firm works closely with CPAs, economists, business appraisers, real estate appraisers, psychologists / psychotherapists, vocational evaluators, estate planners, financial planners and/or other professionals as needed to assess our client’s cases, to help determine preferred outcomes, and to persuade judges, mediators and opposing parties of the merits of our client’s positions in mediations or court proceedings.  

Paternity Proceedings:

Paternity cases are initiated between non-married persons to identify the legal parents of a child, to establish legal and physical custodial rights for each parent (including visitation schedules), and to address child support and child expense issues.  Until children are 19 years old (or longer if parents are cooperating with college expenses), visitation and child custody orders may need to be reviewed, modified and/or enforced as the personal and financial lives of the parents and child change.  

Modification and Enforcement of Existing Court Orders

Because the lives of clients and their children are always changing, orders obtained in a divorce or paternity proceeding sometimes need to be changed.  People move.  Jobs change.  Children get older and have different needs.  Sometimes parties do not comply with orders regarding the payment of support, child expenses, or regarding their custodial arrangements.  

Our firm frequently assists our clients modify or enforce previously-obtained orders, sometimes years after the underlying divorce or paternity action was resolved.  Modifying and enforcing prior court orders sometimes occurs in mediation, but often requires court proceedings be initiated if the parties involved do not agree regarding the proposed changes, or if one party refuses to comply with existing court orders.  Often the party refusing to cooperate with court orders is later ordered to pay for the resulting costs and attorney fees incurred by the complying party.  These disputes can become contentious, requiring talented attorneys be able to both win legal disputes while minimizing the damage to sometimes fragile post-divorce co-parenting relationships.

Pre-Marital / Post-Marital Agreements

Pre-marital agreements alter the law which would otherwise apply to a couple’s divorce proceeding years or decades later.   Couples have the right to negotiate, in advance, how spousal support, property division, and other issues will be addressed in a divorce.  Negotiating a premarital agreement can streamline a later divorce, making the later proceeding, if one were to occur, be resolved more expeditiously.  However, parties considering executing a prenuptial agreement must do so carefully, with each client obtaining complete and equal disclosure as to the assets and liabilities of the other party, and the short and long-term impact of signing the premarital agreement.  Unexpected and unfair consequences may arise if a premarital agreement is signed without such considerations and a divorce occurs 20, 30 or 40 years later.  Signing a premarital agreement may have a tremendous impact on the rights of a spouse decades later, and each party is entitled to execute a premarital agreement fully informed of the potential short and long term impacts of the agreement.

Post-marital agreements are agreements signed by parties while they are married.  These agreements similarly alter how their financial resources are to be treated during their marriage, and what is to happen should the parties later divorce.  Post-marital agreements have grown in popularity as couples utilize this tool to provide predictability in the handling of inheritances or gifts received during a marriage, the allocation of new business interests, or as part of their reconciliation process if they are resolving disputes but staying married.  Because these agreements are negotiated between married people, the process of negotiating and executing the agreement is complicated by the complex fiduciary duty obligations which exist between married persons.  Post-marital agreements are frequently challenged in later divorce proceedings if the parties executing the agreement did not carefully consider the obligations they owed to their spouse through the negotiation and execution of these agreements.