At Enenstein, Ribakoff, LaViña & Pham, we are committed to helping families through this difficult process with the least emotional stress and in the most economical way possible. As your personal legal counsel, we assure you we will never lose sight of your welfare and that of your children.
Contested Divorce: California Law
A contested divorce is one where a couple does not initially agree on the terms of the divorce. There may be complicating issues such as a custody dispute, domestic restraining orders, or a business valuation that needs to be resolved. Complex and aggressive negotiations may be required in order to reach a resolution, and in extreme cases a decision may only be reached through a divorce trial.
At Enenstein, Ribakoff, LaViña & Pham, we will work closely with you to find the most appropriate solution for your unique situation. During the process, our attorneys will aggressively protect your financial interests and your child’s right to an appropriate child custody and visitation arrangement.
Uncontested Divorce: California Law
In California, divorce is considered “no fault,” making it relatively easy to obtain a divorce from the court using the concept of “irreconcilable differences.” In an uncontested divorce, the spouses have already agreed to split and have decided on the terms of their divorce, settling such matters as child custody, spousal support, how to divide assets and debts, and other issues related to their marriage.
In an uncontested divorce, an experienced divorce lawyer can provide a valuable service, reviewing your terms to ensure you have covered all the necessary points, then drafting the agreement and helping finalize the divorce on your behalf. It is important to speak with a lawyer as early as possible in the process.
Marital Property Division
California is a community property state. What this means is that all assets acquired during the marriage, including the increased value of assets brought into the marriage, are considered part of the “Marital Estate.” It is our unwavering goal to assure that our client receives the maximum possible in the division of the Marital Estate; this is accomplished by our knowledge of the law, skill in identifying assets, and thorough preparation.
At Enenstein, Ribakoff, LaViña & Pham, we represent individuals from throughout the Greater Los Angeles areas and provide experienced, specialized legal services related to property division in divorce. We will aggressively identify marital assets to ensure that our client’s property rights are maximized.
The division of marital assets and debts includes:
- Business valuations
- Division of retirement accounts
- Division of pension plans
- Division of investment accounts
- Real property valuation
As a Firm, we retain forensic accountants and other professionals to value pension plans, stocks and stock options, homes and other real estate, and business ownership interests.
Our goal is to identify every possible asset. Everything the community undertakes has a value, and we make sure that our client’s portion of the divided assets is maximized by every conceivable theory the law allows.
The fact is divorces are often dissolved through means other than the ones we see on television. Mediation is the most common method for resolving the differences between spouses. A second, newer method is known as collaborative law.
The primary advantage that mediation affords over litigation is that it allows the spouses themselves to make decisions that would otherwise be made in Court by judges who are strangers to them and to their children. In addition, there is no risk in attempting to mediate divorce issues first because there is no obligation to avoid court if you are unable to reach a satisfactory divorce settlement agreement.
We often recommend mediation with a neutral third party to work out disagreements, particularly when children are involved. We advise clients on legal strategies and recommendations for workable, out-of-court custody and visitation agreements. And to help heal from divorce, we often refer our clients to a network of trusted family counselors.
As attorneys, we also provide independent mediation services, including divorce cases where the Firm does not represent either of the parties involved. In those cases, we meet with both parties with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable settlement. We then draft all necessary documentation to conclude the entire divorce action, without the parties ever stepping foot into the courthouse.
DNA testing is routinely used to establish paternity. However, advances in reproductive technology and the changing nature of families are creating new challenges in paternity actions and other family law proceedings.
As experienced attorneys, we provide a clear and rational approach to your legal problem as well as the emotional detachment and skill that is necessary to navigate through the court procedures required for paternity determination. In almost all of the paternity cases we have handled, no doubt exists as to the identity of the father. That is, paternity actions almost always occur as mere formalities so that other legal proceedings such as child support or child custody determinations can take place.
What is Paternity?
Paternity is defined as: the state or condition of being a father. This type of action arises when the parties, who were never legally married to each other, are the parents of a child. Either the mother or the father of the child may file the Petition to Establish Parental Relationship of a child. Once paternity is established, the court will make decisions on the issues of child custody, child support, and child visitation.
If the parties are able, at any time during the action, to reach an agreement with respect to the resolution of these issues, they then execute a Stipulated Judgment of Paternity, submit it to the court for the judge’s signature and entry, and do not need to appear in court. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, then the court will resolve the parties’ differences at a trial, and then will issue a Court Judgment of Paternity.
What You Can Do
One of the best steps you can take to preserve your emotional and financial future when facing a paternity-related legal issue is to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Most of our clients feel empowered or at least better informed of their legal options after the initial consultation.
The Rights Unwed Fathers Paternity Cases
Once paternity has been established and legally confirmed in a California court, unmarried fathers and mothers both have rights with regards to their child, including:
- The right to physical custody or visitation.
- The right to receive child support, depending upon custody considerations.
- The right to make and have input into decisions about their child’s medical care, education and religious upbringing.
Agreements allow parties who are contemplating divorce to establish their own set of rules and guidelines for how things such as the division of property, the payment of alimony, and even the payment of attorney’s fees and costs will be handled in the event of divorce or the death of one of the parties. Without a prenuptial agreement, the parties’ lives and finances and left to be governed by a complex set of laws in California – the California Family Code and the California Probate Code. Far from undermining trust, the process of drafting and negotiating a prenuptial agreement may, in fact, strengthen the parties’ relationship. The process requires a full disclosure of each party’s financial situation and involves an open and honest discussion about how the couple will handle their money and plan for their shared future. Importantly, prenuptial agreements can be drafted to protect both spouses, not just the economically superior spouse. It often helps to think of a prenuptial agreement as a kind of insurance policy. Although no one plans on their house burning down, ending up in a nursing home, or suffering a disability, most people still take out insurance. We also tell clients that once they sign the prenuptial agreement, they should put it in a safe place, forget about the agreement, enjoy their wedding ceremony, and otherwise focus on enjoying their new married lives
Charges of domestic abuse in California carry serious consequences in both criminal and family courts, resulting in restraining orders, fines, the restriction or loss of custody or visitation privileges, the loss of use of firearms and jail time.
At Enenstein, Ribakoff, LaViña & Pham, our attorneys have been helping men and women throughout the Greater Los Angeles area deal with domestic violence-related issues for over fifteen years.
Stopping Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is defined as violence that occurs in the home, usually between family members, spouses, or partners. If you are a victim of domestic violence, the first thing to do is call the police.
Once the police have been called and you have been removed from any danger, you can request an emergency restraining order from the officer on-scene. This order may be issued at any time, day or night, and will usually remain in effect for several days. During this time, you should consider seeking out the advice and counsel of a domestic violence lawyer.
Southern California Spousal Abuse Attorneys
The Firm is very familiar with the procedures involved in obtaining restraining orders. We can go to court on your behalf, on an emergency basis and without notice to the perpetrator (in some cases), in order to get a temporary restraining order or permanent restraining order issued against the person who is hurting you.
In order to get a long-term restraining order from the court, the alleged victim must have evidence that they are afraid of the perpetrator and that their fear is based on past domestic violence and the threat of future violence. If the court grants the restraining order, and the perpetrator violates the order, the victim can call the police and have the perpetrator arrested.
Child Custody and Domestic Violence
In the context of family law, particularly child custody disputes, restraining orders can be problematic. If you have a restraining order taken out against you, and you are involved in a child custody dispute, you will be at a disadvantage. It is important to seek legal counsel immediately in order to protect your civil rights.
Likewise, if you are the victim of violence and have taken a restraining order out on someone with whom you are involved in a custody dispute, it is equally important to seek legal counsel immediately to ensure that the court hears all necessary and relevant evidence that your legal counsel can gather.
Our attorneys have handled hundreds of custody disputes that involve violence. Our experience and compassion has shown us over the years that delaying legal counsel can sometimes result in devastating decisions rendered by the court.
Call today for a free initial consultation. We want to help you.
At Enenstein, Ribakoff, LaViña & Pham, we represent clients from throughout the Greater Los Angeles in the divorce-related matters of spousal support and modifications to support agreements and court orders.
About Spousal Support (Alimony)
The court may order monthly payments by one spouse to support the other spouse pending a divorce or legal separation. Formerly referred to as alimony, spousal support may continue after the conclusion of the divorce, depending on factors outlined in § 4320 of the California Family Code. Spousal support is awarded in addition to any child support.
Either spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support to the other. For couples married less than ten years, the typical length of spousal support to be ordered is one-half the length of the marriage. In long-term marriages (ten years or more), permanent alimony can be awarded (until the supported spouse’s death or remarriage), depending on the circumstances.
In awarding permanent spousal support, the judge must consider many factors, such as each party’s income and earnings; earning capacity; age and health of the parties; obligations and assets of each party; duration of the marriage; needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage; education, job skills or occupation of each party; etc.
Child Custody and Visitation
The vast majority of our clients with child custody and visitation issues are loving and caring parents who want to do what is best for their children, but discussion of best interests can be a contentious and sensitive matter.
The Basics of Parenting Time (Child Custody and Visitation) in California
Sometimes divorcing parents are confused about the legal terminology of custody law. As experienced family law attorneys, we can fully explain your rights in helping you and the other parent shape a workable, flexible and creative custody agreement that serves the interests of both the children and the adults. We are experienced in negotiating work schedules, school and activities, family holidays, vacations, weekend custody, and any other obstacles to agreement.
Legal custody (California Family Code § 3003) is generally shared by both parents even if the children live primarily with one parent. It refers to the ability to make decisions concerning the health, education and welfare of a minor child.
Physical custody (California Family Code § 3004) refers to the actual living arrangement of a child. Often, one parent has primary physical custody — the child resides with and is under that parent’s supervision most of the time — while the other parent has visitation rights. If the child resides for significant amounts of time in both parents’ respective homes, both parents are said to have joint physical custody.
Collaborative Law and Mediation Approaches to Child Custody and Visitation
Parents are free to reach their own custody and visitation arrangements through collaborative law or mediation. An amicable agreement is best for all, as it avoids arbitrary decisions by a judge who is unfamiliar with your needs.
The Superior Court of California provides a free mediation service for parents called the conciliation court. We will help you prepare for your conciliation court session.
Sometimes, however, one party cannot or will not accommodate the other parent’s wishes in this emotionally charged process. In these cases, you can feel confident that we will provide aggressive protection of your rights and interests.
At Enenstein, Ribakoff, LaViña & Pham, we represent men and women throughout the greater Los Angeles, California area in the negotiating of child support agreements during divorce proceedings, the modifying of prior child support orders, and the establishing of child support in paternity actions.
We do not take your trust lightly.
We will handle your case from start to finish and make sure that no detail is overlooked. We believe these issues are simply too important to be handled in any other way.
Some Child Support Calculation Basics
Child support is usually paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to contribute to the cost of upbringing of the child or children. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child resides the majority of the time. If the child resides an equal amount of time with each parent, the parent with the lower income may still be entitled to child support.
Under California child support law, child support is determined under statewide guidelines. This formula is based on gross incomes of the parents, the amount of time the child spends with the non-custodial parent, the cost of childcare, and certain other factors, such as health insurance and other children living with either parent.