The FAQs below provide answers to commonly asked questions in the area of family law. Call Ernest A. Casacca Attorney at Law today at (805) 466-5888 for more information. We can address any additional questions you have and help you and your family find relief from complicated family legal matters.

What does family law cover?

Family law is a broad term that includes divorce, child support and everything in between. It can decipher the validity of a marriage, define paternity, and outlines the laws regarding divorce, annulments, separation, alimony and spousal support, child custody and visitation, and division of property. Family law in California is similar to that of other states, but does have some minor differences. For example, California courts do not require a blood test or have a waiting period for couples wishing to get married as some states do. Many family law issues, such as child abuse, stalking and protective orders, also cross over into criminal law.

Do I even need a family law lawyer?

Depending on the circumstances of your individual family issues, you may or not require the legal assistance of a lawyer. However, a family law attorney can help you go through all of the proper legal channels when filing for divorce or child support, and help make sure you have all the necessary documents that can save you time and money with the courts. Legal processes are complicated and expensive, especially regarding child custody, child support and adoption. Having a knowledgeable lawyer on your side can help streamline the process and help reduce stress for you, your family and your children. Contact Ernest A. Casacca Attorney at Law today for all of your family law questions.

How does child support work?

Child support is the amount of money one parent is legally granted to receive from the other parent. The courts can order one or both parents to pay a specified sum each month to help support the child or children, including living expenses. As in most states, California has a set of guidelines for calculating the amount of child support that will be paid, when it will be paid, and how payment will be enforced. Calculation depends on how much money each parent makes, how many children the parents have together, how much time each parents spends with the children and many other factors. If you have further questions about how child support is determined or if you’re having trouble receiving your payments, Ernest A. Casacca Attorney at Law can help.

Can I change my child custody, visitation or support orders?

Parents who are unsatisfied with the terms of their child custody, child support or visitation orders may file a Request for Order with the California court. Filing doesn’t guarantee that your request will be granted, however, as there are certain “changes in circumstances,” or reasons a judge will look for to determine if an order change is justifiable. You may have to show proof of these changes in circumstance to the judge in order for your request to be granted.

The other parent is not allowing me to see my child. What can I do?

If you are dealing with an uncooperative partner, there are a couple of things you can do. If you have an existing custody or visitation order, get a certified copy of the order and ask the police to assist in enforcing the order when it comes time to have your children. You can also file a Request for Order to modify the custody or visitation order if you’re consistently having trouble with the other parent. If you don’t already have a custody or visitation order, you need to file a Request for Order. This also requires you to have an existing case, whether it be a petition for custody and support, dissolution, legal separation, or something similar.

How does the divorce process work in California?

There are several legal steps to the divorce process in California. Once a spouse decides to file for divorce, he or she will have to acquire and fill out all of the required forms, including any forms the local courts may require. Forms can typically be found on the government website or in the courthouse or county law library. Once filed, a non-involved third person will serve the divorce papers to the other spouse, or respondent. The respondent then must either file a response with the court or try to work out an agreement about the terms of the divorce with the original filer. The court must sign and approve a judgement in order for the couple to become officially divorced or legally separated. The divorce process can be complicated, especially when children are involved, so it’s best to speak with a lawyer before you file.

What papers do I need to fill out to file for divorce in California?

The California state government requires a Summons, Petition and a Certificate of Counsel. Spouses with children must also file a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement. There are other recommended additional forms, called Declarations of Disclosure, that include Income and Expense Declarations, Schedule of Assets and Debts, and Property Declaration – Separate and Community. Generally, the processes are essentially the same whether you’re filing for Dissolution, Legal Separation or a Nullity Proceeding. Hiring a knowledgeable California family law attorney will give you the advantage you need and help you through each step of the divorce process.

Who is given custody of children in a divorce?

In California, legal custody and physical custody are the two types of custody that can be granted to parents. Legal custody includes the important decisions made for children, such as education, health care and welfare. Physical custody decides where the child will primarily live. When determining which parent is granted custody, the courts consider what will provide for the child’s best interest. The age and health of the child, emotional ties between parent and child, ability of the parents to care for the child, and whether or not there has been a history of violence or substance abuse in the household are all factors the court will consider when granting custody and visitation rights. Every family’s situation is different and is decided on a case-to-case basis.

How can I name a guardian for my child?

Granting guardianship to someone other than a child’s parents allows that person to obtain custody of the child if the parents become unable to care for the child. Establishing a guardian for a child requires papers to be filed with the court and many steps that eventually lead to a court hearing. It can take a lot of time and energy to fill out all the necessary forms, notify family, and go through the entire process, so it’s often recommended a lawyer is consulted to streamline the guardian naming process and ensure all of the necessary documents are completed and submitted properly.

How does adoption work in California?

Choosing to adopt is life-changing and can create strong bonds, legally and emotionally, between a parent and his or her non-biological child. Adoption can grant the child new opportunities and provide a loving, stable home. But the adoption process is anything but simple. Because the child’s adoptive parents are granted all the legal rights and responsibilities that a birth family would have, many steps must be taken to ensure all ends are tied up successfully. As with other legal processes, papers must be gathered and properly filed with the courts, papers must be served to the birth parents, consent must be given, a court date is set and a hearing is scheduled. Adoption is a long and arduous process, but can provide a lifetime of happiness for both the child and his or her adoptive parents.

Ernest A. Casacca Attorney at Law has been helping families in Atascadero and all of San Luis Obispo with all of their family law needs. Whether you’re facing divorce or need to amend your child custody order, Ernest A. Casacca can help. Call him at (805) 466-5888 to schedule your consultation today.