Family Law - An Overview

According to the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), of the 9.66 million cases in FY 2006 with child support orders being processed, 7.04 million contained medical support orders and 1.9 million were cases in which medical support was ordered and provided.

Source: National CSE Program Preliminary Data Report FY 2006 (available on the OCSE Web site at: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css).

Los Angeles, California, Family Law Attorney

The lawyers of Feinberg & Waller provide discreet, non-judgmental family law advice and representation that is based on experience and skilled preparation. Under the direction of California board-certified family law specialist Marshall Waller, our attorneys have earned recognition for our comprehensive approach to helping our clients protect their rights and interests in family law court.

Our firm serves the family law needs of clients throughout the Los Angeles metro region. We invite you to learn more about family law on this page. Contact us to schedule a free consultation at our office in Calabasas or Beverly Hills.

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Feinberg & Waller understands how stressful a divorce can be. Family law problems are often the most emotional. We can help you resolve your problem and keep your personal life on-track.

No matter what your family law issue is, our firm has the experience you can rely on. Attorney Marshall Waller is a California board-certified family law specialist.

Family Law - An Overview

Family law is the term applied to the laws and rules developed regarding family relationships. Family law defines not only the relationships between members of a family but also between a family and society as a whole. Family law reflects the values society shares regarding how people who are related should treat each other.

When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of a family law attorney at Feinberg & Waller in Calabasas, CA, can prove crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome.

Typically, family law attorneys assist people in either building or dissolving family relationships. Specific areas of representation include marriage and relationship planning, divorce, alimony/spousal support, paternity, child custody and child support. Some family law attorneys also provide assistance in the areas of adoption and assistive reproductive technologies.

Marriage

Marriage is a legal union as much as it is a romantic one. Many couples find it helpful to work through financial issues and the potential disagreements such issues can create before entering into a marriage.

Because marriage is a legal and financial arrangement, it may be wise to consult with an attorney at Feinberg & Waller about the advantages of premarital and prenuptial agreements beforehand.

Divorce

Divorce is a method of terminating a marriage contract. From a legal standpoint, divorce restores an individual's right to marry someone else. The process also legally divides marital assets and debts and determines the care and custody of the children. Each state addresses these issues differently, but most follow the same basic principles and use relatively uniform standards.

In some states you may need to prove fault, commonly referred to as "grounds," to obtain a divorce. However, the majority of states allow at least one form of no-fault divorce in which the spouses are not required to prove that the other caused the breakdown of the marriage. If no-fault divorce is available in your state, either you or your spouse may obtain a divorce, even if one of you does not consent to the divorce. In some states, both fault and no-fault divorce are available.

In most divorces, the primary issues to be decided are property and debt division, alimony/spousal support and, if there are children, child custody, visitation and support. When spouses agree on how to resolve these issues or they can work cooperatively to find solutions, they can usually obtain a divorce relatively quickly. Oftentimes, however, divorcing spouses have disputes regarding their post-marriage financial arrangements and the care and custody of their children. Property division and alimony can be hotly contested issues in divorce proceedings, but the early advice of a family law attorney may have a favorable impact on the end result.

Child custody and visitation

The care and upbringing of children following divorce is often an ongoing source of conflict for divorcing parents. Custody must address both physical custody and legal custody. "Physical custody" typically is an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities regarding the day-to-day care and activities of the children, including where they will live, who will take them to school, etc. "Legal custody" is essentially decision-making authority; it involves the right to have input into important decisions regarding the child's upbringing. These can include issues about the child's education, religion and medical care, among others.

Sometimes the parents can agree to a custody and visitation (also called "parenting time") schedule; if they cannot, then the court will determine one for them. In the past, courts routinely gave mothers physical custody and gave fathers visitation rights. Today, such gender-biased preferences are much less common, as courts and society as a whole now realize that it is sometimes in the best interests of the children to reside with or spend the majority of their time with their father instead.

In general, the courts favor having the children reside where they will most likely flourish, giving children time with both parents as appropriate and establishing joint, ongoing child-rearing responsibilities for both parents. The advice and assistance of a family law attorney can help parents establish child custody and visitation agreements that focus on the best interests of their children.

Child support

Parents have a legal duty to financially support their children. That obligation usually lasts until the child reaches the age of majority (usually 18 or 21 years old depending on state law) or becomes self-supporting. An order for child support may be entered during or after a divorce, and either parent may be ordered to pay support depending upon how custody is arranged. In most states, an unmarried mother may also file a petition for child support in family court, and an order for support will be entered once paternity has been established.

A parent who fails to remain current on his or her child support obligations faces significant penalties. Not only does interest accrue on child support arrearages after a certain time, but a non-paying parent could find themselves in contempt of court. In addition, every state has a child support enforcement office that works with the family court to suspend professional or business licenses, take away driver and recreational licenses, require payment of future owed sums in advance or even place non-paying parents in jail when child support obligations are overdue. Hiring a private family law attorney to help collect child support will typically speed up the process. Because of the state specific requirements involved in child support, parents can benefit from the advice and involvement of a family lawyer at Feinberg & Waller in Calabasas, CA, when child support issues arise.

Contact a family law attorney

Family relations create a host of legal consequences when they change, break down or end. A family law attorney at Feinberg & Waller in Calabasas, CA, can explain the laws that apply to your particular situation and help you to make informed choices for you and your family.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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