Hearing the term “family law” most often brings to mind the word divorce. However, family law encompasses much more than just complicated divorce cases. When individuals have any kind of legal issues involving a personal relationship, they will most likely fall under the family law category here in California. This makes family law an incredibly diverse practice area that can address an assortment of issues.
What Exactly Is Family Law?
Family law is a subsection of the law that prioritizes legal issues that occur within domestic relationships. This could involve family legal problems, issues with a previous roommate, divorce matters, and more. Family law attorneys focus on providing legal guidance and representation for clients involved in these kinds of cases and work to achieve solutions to settle them. Just a couple of the many practice areas that fall under family law include:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Property division
- Domestic violence
- Protection orders
- Legal separation
- Domestic partnerships
The Five Most Common Family Law Cases in CA
While family law is a complex category full of different issues, there are certain kinds of cases that occur much more than others. In California, the five most common family law cases you may be come across are:
- DivorcesThe average divorce rate in the United States has drifted around 50% for years now. Because of the high number of marriages that end in separation, divorces are the most common type of family law case in almost every state. California is also a “no-fault” divorce state, which makes it easier for individuals to file for divorce and may account for the higher number of cases seen here.
- Child Custody DisputesChild custody, which is most often an issue that comes with divorce, is a common and incredibly contentious area of family law. Because parents do not want to forfeit their rights to their children in most circumstances, they instead take matters to court to fight for custody or visitation. Child custody cases are often intense and filled with disputes, which is why hiring a lawyer with first-hand knowledge and experience in family law is integral in these situations.
- Child Support DisputesChild support disputes are another popular case brought up during divorces and can come in multiple forms. For example, the paying spouse may file a petition to challenge a child support order that was put in place because they believe the amount is unfair. Conversely, the receiving spouse may file a petition to request more child support or to have their order enforced if they’re not receiving payments.
- Property Division ProblemsBecause California is a community property state, disagreements during the property division process are almost always inevitable. Community property laws give equal rights to both spouses over their property. This means each spouse owns 50% of every marital asset. Dividing property according to community property laws can be challenging because it’s not usually possible to divide an asset perfectly in half, hence why disputes are frequent in these cases. Property division assistance can be requested during a legal separation or divorce and is most often directed by the court.
- Spousal Support Requests and DisputesSpousal support, or alimony, is not inherently granted when a couple divorces. If one spouse believes they require financial assistance during or after their divorce, they must submit a request through their local court. Spousal support requests are common in California due to many relationships having a primary breadwinner. The paying spouses have the potential to dispute the request in court or petition for modification, but the final decision is left up to the judge.
Q: Are Family Law Cases Confidential in California?
A: In most circumstances, family law records are kept available to the public unless a court of law decides to seal them or make them confidential. This would mean, for example, instances of domestic violence or divorce records would be accessible to the public.
Q: What Does It Mean That California Is a “No-Fault” Divorce State?
A: In some states, married couples must provide a reason for their divorce or find what is known as “fault.” However, California is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that couples do not need to have justifiable evidence for why they want to dissolve their marriage. This means that it doesn’t have to be either partner’s fault that the marriage is ending but is instead due to “irreconcilable differences.”
Q: Do You Need to Have a Lawyer for Family Court in California?
A: While there are some scenarios where you may be able to represent yourself in family court, it is smart to hire a skilled attorney when things are contentious or of high importance to you. Working with an experienced family lawyer like Pasadena family attorney Ted Khalaf helps to ensure that your rights are heard and protected during your case. Otherwise, it can be easy for another lawyer or the court to take control of your proceedings.
Q: Do All Family Law Cases Go to Trial in California?
A: Not every family law case will make it to the trial portion of proceedings. This is because there are multiple meetings and hearings that will take place first in an attempt to settle the matter. If the matter cannot be settled outside of litigation, the court will then order it to go to trial. For any family law issues that must go through litigation, make sure you have a trusted attorney to represent you in court.
Pasadena Family Lawyer and Law Firm
Choosing the services of a proficient family lawyer can make the legal aspects of your case much easier to handle. At Khalaf Law Group, our lead attorney Ted Khalaf has spent over ten years resolving family law issues in California. He takes great pride in providing individualized, empathetic care for each one of his clients and using strategic approaches to find solutions for their legal affairs.
Contact Khalaf Law Group today to learn more about our family law services in Pasadena, California.