Family law is an area of law that includes each person's rights, obligations and legally available remedies for resolution of conflicts created giving rise to disputed issues concerning marriage and divorce, custody rights of unwed parents (paternity), domestic partnerships (same sex couples), child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, division of assets, debts, retirements, civil and military pension benefits, disability, federal and state tax liabilities, payment of attorney fees, disposition of family residence, and ownership of business interests, as well as specialized matters such as adoption, abduction, kidnapping, child abuse, restraining orders, domestic violence, enforcement and everything else covered within the California Family Code.
Spousal support, formerly called alimony, is a court order that requires one spouse to pay a specific amount of money to the other spouse. State law governs the amount and duration that a court may compel a party to provide spousal support to the other party. The factors used by a court for a legal determination of temporary spousal support (prior to entry of Judgment) and permanent support (after Judgment has been granted) are quite different. On application of either party for spousal support, the court may decide to increase or decrease the amount to be paid, but only upon a showing that there has been a substantial and material change of circumstances to justify an order changing the original award of support. Except in rare cases, spousal support will terminate upon death of either party or when the recipient re-marries. Courts may also reduce spousal support payments down to zero if it finds such an order is needed to avoid a harsh and inequitable result. The Court may award permanent or temporary support to a man or woman, considering the following factors:
The actual need;
Ability to pay;
The duration of the marriage;
The age of the parties;
The physical health of the parties;
The emotional health of the parties;
The standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living;
The earning capacities of the parties;
The educational levels of the parties;
The vocational skills of the parties;
The employability of the parties;
The amount of time a party has been absent from the job market;
The custodial responsibilities for minor children of the party seeking spousal support;
The time and expense needed by a party to acquire a sufficient education or training to enable a party to become employed, and the availability of training and employment.
The opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
The history of the non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
The history of the financial contributions to the marriage by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair; and
Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
A court decree that terminates a marriage; also known as marital dissolution.
A divorce decree establishes the new relations between the parties, including their duties and obligations relating to property that they own, support responsibilities of either or both of them, and provisions for any children.When a marriage breaks up, divorce law provides legal solutions for issues that the Husband and Wife are unable to resolve through mutual cooperation. Historically, the most important question in a divorce case was whether the court should grant a divorce. When a divorce was granted, the resolution of continuing obligations was simple: The wife was awarded custody of any children, and the husband was required to support the wife and children.
Modern divorce laws have inverted the involvement of courts. The issue of whether a divorce should be granted is now generally decided by one or both of the spouses. Contemporary courts are more involved in determining the legal ramifications of the marriage breakup, such as spousal maintenance, child support, and child custody. Other legal issues relating to divorce include court jurisdiction, antenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and the right to obtain a divorce. State laws govern a wide range of divorce issues, but district, county, and family courts are given broad discretion in fixing legal obligations between the parties.