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Newport, CA Divorce & Mediation Attorneys

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Newport Beach Divorce Lawyers

Newport Family Law & Mediation Group was founded by Attorney Sharman L. Brooks, a Certified Family Law Specialist practicing family law exclusively for over 21 years in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego County courts. We place an emphasis on close, interactive, and informed client relationships. We treat our clients with the same professionalism and respect that we would desire and expect if our roles were reversed. We take a team approach to family law, which includes using financial experts, real estate professionals, vocational evaluators, health care professionals, private investigators, and counselors to help resolve the economic and emotional issues that inevitably arise when relationships are ending and families are emotionally, physically, and financially affected.

Moreover, we take a realistic, results-focused approach. We use a cost-benefit analysis of your case to determine the strategic course of action and level of aggressiveness needed to maximize your objectives and attain the best outcome. At Newport Family Law & Mediation Group, we understand the nature of relational conflict as well as the law. Therefore, in evaluating your case, we consider the psychological and financial health of the entire family and assist our clients in navigating both the legal and emotional waters of family law. Our Newport Beach divorce attorneys handle complex litigation in all areas of family law, and we also handle mediation. Mediation is designed to enable you to take control of your case and dramatically reduce the financial and emotional costs typically associated with contested litigation.

Divorce

A divorce is a proceeding to terminate a marriage. In California, one spouse needs to have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six months to file for a divorce, and one spouse needs to have been a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for a minimum of three months immediately before filing the petition. Under Family Code section 2310, the main basis for a divorce is irreconcilable differences. Irreconcilable differences occur when a marriage has broken down, and it cannot be fixed. The court will impose a mandatory six-month waiting period after filing before finalizing a divorce.

Paternity

In California, a paternity action is also known as a request to establish parentage. In other words, it is a request to determine that one party is the mother and one party is the father. Under current law, it is possible to have two mothers and two fathers. If the parents of a child are not married, one parent can file a request to establish parentage to determine parentage and establish other orders that may be necessary for the family’s well-being, including orders regarding child custody, child support, and reimbursement for childbirth expenses. Under Family Code section 7540, there is a conclusive presumption in most cases that a child of a wife who is cohabiting with a husband is a child of the marriage. If a child’s parents were not married during the pregnancy or at the time of the birth, the child will not have a legal father until the parents formally establish parentage. If a man has lived with a child and mother and demonstrated a commitment to the child, while holding the child out to be his own, the court is entitled to presume that the man is the child’s legal father. If paternity is disputed, a party may ask the court to order a paternity test.

Child Custody and Visitation

The divorce attorneys at our Newport Beach firm have handled many sensitive cases involving children. When determining child custody and visitation, California courts evaluate a child’s best interests. The court is primarily concerned with the child’s health, safety, and welfare. It is guided by the principle that children benefit from frequent and continuing contact with both parents. There are two parts of child custody in California: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves the ability to make important decisions about a child’s education, welfare, safety, and health. With joint legal custody, both parents are entitled to make major decisions for the child, but with sole legal custody, only one parent makes these decisions. Physical custody involves where the child lives. One parent can be awarded sole physical custody, or both parents can be awarded joint physical custody. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean an even split, but it means that the child spends substantial time with each parent.

Child Support

Both parents owe a duty to support their child, and each parent is expected to pay for the support of the child according to their ability. In California, a court will follow statewide uniform guidelines to determine an appropriate amount of child support. There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount determined under the guidelines is correct, but our Newport Beach divorce lawyers can help you pursue a deviation if the facts in your case apply to the narrow criteria that justify a deviation argument under Family Code section 4057. A parent’s duty to support a child continues until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, the child turns 19, the child is emancipated, or the child marries, dies, or joins the military. Parents may be ordered to continue supporting a disabled adult child who cannot become self-sufficient.

Spousal Support

California courts have substantial discretion in awarding spousal support. How much (if any) support will be paid and for how long is determined after considering factors such as whether each party’s earning capacity is enough to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, the ability of the paying spouse to pay, each party’s obligations and assets, the length of the marriage, the ability of the supported party to be engaged in gainful employment, and the age and health of the parties. In California, spousal support generally lasts for half the length of the marriage when a marriage lasted less than 10 years. When there is a longer marriage, the court does not set a duration, but the party paying support can try to prove that spousal support is not necessary at some point in the future (usually after one-half the length of the marriage has elapsed).

Division of Assets and Debts

California is a community property state. The assets and debts that spouses acquire while married are generally considered marital property that belongs equally to both spouses, and marital property must be divided equally in a divorce. A divorce attorney in Newport Beach can help you identify and value the marital property in your divorce, and then present your position on how to divide it. The spouses can agree through a prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement, or other transmutation to turn an asset that was originally separate property into community property, or the reverse.

Attorney’s Fees and Sanctions

The California Family Law Code and the California Code of Civil Procedure provide several ways in which you can seek attorney’s fees and costs. Family courts are empowered to order a party in litigation to pay a reasonable portion of an opposing party’s attorney’s fees so that he or she can maintain or defend the proceeding. The court will look at each party’s relative circumstances in making this award. To determine whether one party needs the other party to pay attorney’s fees, the court considers evidence of the parties’ income, assets, income-producing properties, and investments. The court will award attorney’s fees and costs only if the party that may be ordered to pay has the ability to pay. Their ability to pay is measured according to all sources of income, including earning ability rather than only actual earned income.

Restraining Orders

If you need a court to order somebody to stay away from you, the divorce lawyers at our Newport Beach firm can help you apply for a restraining order. We will apply for a temporary restraining order, which if granted, lasts for 20-25 days. A judge can issue this order if they believe you to be in immediate danger and in need of protection prior to the court hearing your case. At the court hearing, the Court will determine whether to grant a permanent restraining order which, if granted, will last for a duration up to five years and can be extended at the end of the five-year period. The issuance of a permanent restraining order can have substantial implications on custody and visitation, as well as spousal support, so it is imperative to speak with an attorney if you are faced with the issuance of a permanent restraining order.

Mediation

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third party, known as a mediator, assists the parties in resolving their case. It is common for family law matters, such as divorce, to proceed through mediation. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties; the goal is usually to negotiate a settlement with which both sides can live. Generally, what is said in mediation in California is confidential and cannot be used as evidence. The divorce lawyers at our Newport Beach firm will carefully explain the implications of the protections for mediation communications prior to your participation.

Department of Child Support Services

Unfortunately, some parents fail to comply with child support orders. Forty-nine child support agencies in California establish and enforce child support orders. Either of a child’s parents can open a child support case, irrespective of whether there is an existing child support order. If a child receives public assistance, a child support case will automatically be opened. The Child Support Services staff are supposed to act in the public interest, rather than representing either side of a child support dispute. We can represent you in enforcing child support orders and working with your local agency.

Seek Guidance and Representation from an Experienced Family Law Attorney

At Newport Family Law & Mediation Group, we represent people throughout Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. We are conveniently located in Newport Beach, off the 405 and 73 freeways at the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and Jamboree, directly across from Newport Lexus. For a free consultation with a divorce attorney in the Newport Beach area, contact our office at (949) 769-7040 or submit a request online.

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