Family Law

Divorce can dramatically impact your financial and emotional well-being for years to come… in some cases, for a lifetime. When children are involved, the stakes are even higher, for you as well as your children.

At Youngman Ericsson Scott, we understand what you are going through during this difficult time. We also understand that, given the emotions involved, you may be tempted to give up—that is, to settle for less than you need and deserve just to make the whole situation go away. Don’t give up! While we will pursue a non-contentious resolution if the other party is being reasonable, we are prepared for all possible scenarios and are willing to fight on your behalf to protect your interests.

During your initial consultation, we will take the time to understand all of the relevant issues in your situation and explain your options. We will give you our opinion about the best course of action and the step by step process involved in achieving your goals. Then, we will handle every aspect of your case personally, as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

We offer all of the following family law services and more:

Divorce and Legal Separation
Child Custody and Visitation
Child Support
Spousal Support
Property Division
Restraining Orders
Pension Division
Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements

Protect your rights, interests, children and future. Contact us today to schedule a personal consultation. Many of our clients say they feel a greater sense of hope and well-being after meeting with us for the first time. We look forward to speaking with you.

Q: How is a divorce different than a legal separation?

A: A divorce terminates your marital relationship and restores you to single status. A legal separation keeps your marital status intact, and you and your spouse remain married. However, in a legal separation the court has the same authority as in a divorce to divide your property and issue orders related to child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support.

Contact an attorney at Youngman Ericsson Scott, LLP to learn more about the difference between divorce and legal separation, and to help you determine which option is best for you.

Q: Do I have to prove anything to obtain a divorce or legal separation?

A: No. California is a no fault state, which means you do not have to prove that your spouse did something wrong. You only need to state that you and your spouse cannot get along by citing irreconcilable differences in your petition for divorce or legal separation.

Q: What county should I file for divorce in?

A: In order to file for divorce in any county in California, you must have lived in California for six (6) months and in the county in which you intend to file for three (3) months.

If you do not meet these requirements, you may file for legal separation and then amend your petition to divorce once the residency requirements are met.

Q: How long does it take to get divorced?

A: Every case is different, which means how long it will take depends on the individual facts and circumstances of your case. Generally, the more complex your case is, the longer it will take for you to get divorced.

There is a mandatory waiting period of six (6) months and one (1) day from the date your spouse is served with your divorce petition for the court to enter your dissolution granting you and your spouse single status.

Q: How will our property and debts be divided?

A: California is a community property state. For a court to divide your property and debts, it must first determine whether they are community property, quasi-community property, or separate property.

Community property is generally everything you and your spouse own together or acquired during your marriage that is not a gift or inheritance. Community property also includes all debts acquired during your marriage regardless of whose name the debts are in.

You and your spouse each own one-half of your community property. The courts will typically divide all community property equally between you and your spouse.

Quasi-community property is any property that was acquired by you and your spouse while living in a different state, that would have been community property had it been acquired while living in California. For purposes of division, quasi-community property is usually treated the same a community property.

Separate property is property that you or your spouse owned prior to your marriage, or acquired after your date of separation. In addition, inheritances and gifts to either you or your spouse while married are generally the separate property of the spouse who received the gift or inheritance. For purpose of division, separate property will generally remain separate property.

Property can also be both separate and community property. When this happens, it can be quite complicated to determine how to divide it.

Youngman Ericsson Scott, LLP attorneys can assist you with determining the nature of your property and how to divide it.

Q: My divorce is taking a long time. Can I terminate my marital status before resolving the other issues in my case?

A:Possibly. Depending on your case, you may be able to ask for a bifurcation of marital status. You may only request a bifurcation of marital status if six (6) months and one (1) day has passed from the date your spouse was served with your petition for dissolution, and you have completed your preliminary declaration of disclosure. In addition, if you, or your spouse, have any retirement accounts that are required to be joined to your divorce, they must be joined prior to your request for a bifurcation of marital status.

Furthermore, prior to requesting a bifurcation, there are some conditions that must be given thought to determine if a bifurcation is best for you. These include, but are not limited to, retirement plans, medical insurance coverage, and tax liability issues.

Contact Youngman Ericsson Scott, LLP to assist you with weighing the advantages and disadvantages of a bifurcation of marital status.

Q: What steps should be taken once I am divorced?

A: You should close all joint accounts and credit cards, or remove your spouse from any individual accounts or credit cards. You may also need to transfer title of your vehicle through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Additionally, you may need to change the beneficiary designations on any employer retirement accounts, individual retirement accounts, life insurance policies or annuities, health insurance savings accounts, transfer on death investment accounts, and payable on death bank accounts.

Lastly, you may want to consider revising any wills, health care powers of attorney and living wills, powers of attorney, revocable trusts, and advanced estate planning structures such as irrevocable trusts.

Contact Youngman Ericsson Scott, LLP to discuss revising your estate plan.

Q: What is mediation?

A: Mediation is the process in which a neutral third party, a mediator, helps you and your spouse reach a settlement relating to your legal issues out of court. It is usually a voluntary process.

To find out if mediation is right for you, contact Youngman Ericsson Scott, LLP.

Q: What is child custody and visitation?

A: There are two components to child custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody involves the right and responsibility to make decisions involving your child’s health, safety, and welfare. This includes decisions about where your child shall attend school or daycare, whether or not your child will engage in religious activities or be involved with religious institutions, whether your child will be involved in sports or extra-curricular activities, who will be your child’s medical care providers, and what medical treatments your child will receive.

The court has the authority to order joint legal custody or sole legal custody. Joint legal custody requires both you, and the other parent, to share in all the decisions relating to your child. Sole legal custody gives the right to make decisions regarding your child to either you, or the other parent, and does not require consultation with the parent without legal custody.

Physical custody refers to whom your child will live with during or after a divorce or legal separation. The court has the authority to order joint physical custody or sole physical custody. Joint physical custody means that your child resides with both you, and the other parent, on almost an equal basis, while sole physical custody means your child lives primarily with you, or the other parent, and visits the parent without physical custody.

Visitation, otherwise known as “time-share” or “parenting plan,” is the schedule by which you and the other parent will spend time with your child. Visitation may be according to a set schedule, open-ended so that you and the other parent may work it out among yourselves, and/or supervised.

Q: How does the court determine child custody?

A: Child custody is determined according to what is in the best interest of your child. When a court considers what is in your child’s bests interest they look at several factors. These include: the age of your child, the health of your child, any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by you or the other parent, your child’s ties to you, their school, and the local community, and you and the other parent’s ability to care for your child.

To learn more about child custody and visitation contact our office to schedule a consultation.

 Q: What is child support?

A: Child support is the amount of money you, or the other parent, is ordered to pay every month to support your child and pay for your child’s living expenses. The amount of child support is typically determined according to California’s statewide formula, often referred to as “guideline” support. In calculating “guideline” support, the court takes into consideration gross income, the amount of time your child spends with you and the other parent, tax filing status, mandatory retirement and union dues, and health insurance expenses along with other considerations.

You and the other parent are allowed to make a child support agreement that is different than the “guideline” amount as long as your child’s needs are being met. If your child support agreement is below the “guideline” line amount, child support can be changed to “guideline” without having to show a change in your circumstances.

Q: What is spousal support?

A: Spousal support, otherwise known as alimony, is money that one spouse pays to help support the other spouse after the filing of a dissolution or a legal separation. When a court determines the amount of spousal support, they consider many factors. The factors include, but are not limited to: standard of marital living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, earning capacity and job histories of both you and your spouse, the obligations and assets of each spouse, tax consequences, and any history of domestic violence between you and your spouse.

Spousal support can be a complex legal issue. Attorneys at Youngman Ericsson Scott, LLP can help you determine the amount of support, how long it should last, and understand the tax consequences of spousal support.