Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)
We understand that going through a divorce is one of the most difficult issues that you can go through. Decisions you make during this process can have a lasting impact on your family, your assets, and your finances. Our office handles everything from simple uncontested dissolutions to extremely contentious divorce litigation matters involving Child Custody, Visitation, Child Support, Spousal Support, and Property Division. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and ensure that all agreements, property divisions, and custody arrangements are fair to you and your children.
California is a Community Property state, meaning that “all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage” is the property of both spouses. Property acquired before the date of marriage and after the date of separation is that parties’ separate property. During a divorce the court will determine what, if anything, is the separate property of only one spouse as well as what is community property subject to distribution between the parties. The Law Offices of Stephen Chen will help determine what Property you are legally entitled to.
Spousal and Child Support
Our office has substantial experience handling a wide range of spousal and child support matters. Spousal support may be ordered to be paid by either party (supporting spouse) to the other party (supported spouse) and the amount is largely dependent on both parties’ income as well as other factors such as the length of the marriage and the marital standard of living.
Child support is determined based according to California statewide guidelines, and generally lasts until the age of 18. Child support is largely calculated based on both parties’ income, the custodial timeshare of the parties’ children, and other factors.The parents can also agree on a different amount not based on the guideline; the court will generally approve if the agreement is in the best interests of the children.
At The Law Offices of Stephen Chen, we are experienced in obtaining favorable support amounts for our clients whether they are the supported party or the supporting party.
Custody and Visitation
When a marriage that has produced children ends in divorce, determining custody arrangements can prove to be one of the most emotionally difficult and contentious obstacles to achieving a resolution. In a divorce, two separate types of custody must be determined:
- Physical custody refers to which parent the child actually lives with and when.
- Legal custody refers to which parent retains the right and responsibility to make educational, medical, and religious decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.
Although sole custody may be granted when it is in the best interest of the child, all custody decisions start out in favor of some form of joint custody. In these cases, a visitation plan will outline how the parents will share custody.
At The Law Offices of Stephen Chen, we assist clients with both simple and complex custody and visitation matters, including “move-away” cases, where one parent wants to relocate outside of California, or even outside the country.
Under California paternity law, “the child of a wife cohabiting with her husband – is conclusively presumed to be a child of the marriage.” However, in many cases, a child is born out of wedlock, or the mother’s husband is not the father. Establishing paternity can have a significant impact on custody, visitation rights, and child support obligations. While many parents choose to establish paternity voluntarily, it is sometimes necessary to obtain a court order. The Law Offices of Stephen Chen has substantial experience in handling the legal aspects of paternity matters.
Pre & Post Nuptial Agreements
The purpose of a pre-marriage or post-marriage agreement is to amicably arrange your financial matters between you and your partner. Business and financial interests can be intricate and complex, especially when there is a vast amount of property or other assets. There may be many different reasons for settling such matters now as opposed to sometime in the future when current laws may have changed.
If you are considering pre or post nuptial agreement, each party (you and your fiancé or spouse) must have separate legal counsel to ensure the agreement accomplishes the purpose for it and that you are fully advised as to your legal rights at every step. While a marital or pre-marital agreement may be oral in nature, The Law Offices of Stephen Chen will work to ensure there is a written contract between you.
If you need advice concerning a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, The Law Offices of Stephen Chen is equipped to help you with any marriage contract.
Under California law, Domestic Partners, or same-sex couples who file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State, are afforded the same rights, and are subject to the same obligations and responsibilities, as spouses in a marriage. Should the parties wish to dissolve the partnership, The Law Offices of Stephen Chen can assist in both the dissolution and any related legal issues that may arise, such as custody of adopted children or support matters.
Post-Divorce Support and Custody Modifications
Sometimes, even after a final judgment of divorce or paternity, a parent’s circumstances may change significantly due to a loss in income or a change of location. In these cases, the California Family Code allows the court to set aside or modify a support order. If you or your spouse’s circumstances have changed in some way, The Law Offices of Stephen Chen can work to advocate for your best interests, and the best interests of your children, in the court’s modification of support and custody orders.
Family Law Mediation
Divorce mediation is a voluntary process in which a competent mediator guide you through your entire divorce. Agreements are reached which meet the needs of all family members. When there are children, the primary focus is on their best interests. The end result is a complete legal divorce which never requires going to court.
Mediation is an efficient and cost-effective approach to a divorce. The Law Offices of Stephen Chen is specially equipped and trained to handle any family law mediation matter and is here to help.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act are criminal in nature. Violation of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order can lead to arrest and or criminal charges.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, and are interested in seeking a Restraining Order, our office is experienced in obtaining the protective relief that you need.
If you need representation defending a CLETS (Criminal Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) Restraining Order, our office is experienced in handling such matters. It is imperative that you obtain representation in defending a CLETS restraining order as there are severe ramifications of a CLETS restraining order being granted. A CLETS restraining order not only is entered into a statewide database that every police officer can search for, but a CLETS restraining order can have severe child custody and visitation ramifications against the restrained person as well. Moreover, a CLETS restraining order can last up to 5 years.
At The Law Offices of Stephen Chen, we are well experienced in obtaining restraining orders for victims and defending restraining orders for those who wish to protect their rights.