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Family Law
What is Family Law?

Family Law handles cases that involve:
  • Disputes over marriage or domestic partner relationships
  • Disputes over property and children between parents and domestic partners
  • Violence between family, friends or acquaintances
Areas covered by these types of cases are:
  • Child Custody[G]
  • Child Support[G]
  • Child Visitation[G]
  • Dissolution of Marriage[G](Divorce)[G]
  • Domestic Violence[G] Restraining Orders[G]
  • Legal Separation[G]
  • Minor's Contract
  • Minor's Marriage Request
  • Nullity of Marriage[G] (Annulment)[G]
  • Parentage[G] (Paternity)[G]
  • Spousal[G] or Domestic Partner[G] Support
  • Summary Dissolution of Marriage[G]
What is Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)?

Dissolution of marriage (divorce) ends a marriage or domestic partnership. It restores the parties to single status. During this process, the Court can issue orders about:
  • Child Custody
  • Child Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Spousal and Domestic Partner Support
  • Community and Separate Property
  • Community and Separate Debt
  • Summary Dissolution of Marriage
If you are the person filing for divorce, you are the petitioner[G] . The other party in the divorce is the respondent[G] . The respondent must be served with specific paperwork. If the respondent does not file the necessary responding paperwork within 30 days of service, the petitioner may request an entry of default. The divorce proceeding can then be completed without the participation of the respondent.

If the respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case proceeds as a contested or uncontested divorce.

In a contested divorce the:
  • Parties[G] are unable to agree on some or all issues
  • Unresolved issues must be settled by the Court
  • Judgement is submitted and signed by the Court when complete
In an uncontested divorce the:
  • Parties are able to agree on all issues
  • Judgement is submitted and signed by the Court when complete
For more information about dissolution of marriage, go to the California Courts website.
What is Summary Dissolution of Marriage?

Summary dissolution of marriage can be used to end a marriage without a court appearance. It can only be used by a married couple that meets ALL the following requirements:
  1. The parties have been married less than five (5) years as of the date of separation.
  2. Have no children together that were born or adopted before or during the marriage and wife, to her knowledge, is not pregnant as of the date the action is filed.
  3. Neither party has any interest/ownership in real estate.
  4. Do not owe more than $6,000 total for debts acquired since the date of the marriage. The $6000 amount does not include vehicle loans.
The married couple jointly signs the necessary paperwork and the originals are filed with the Court. After waiting six (6) months, either party can file the document requesting that the marriage be ended.
For more information about dissolution of marriage, go to the California Courts website.
What is Legal Separation?

A legal separation is for couples who do not want to divorce but want to live apart. It does not end a marriage. You cannot remarry or enter in a domestic partnership if you are legally separated. With a legal separation, the Court can issue orders about:
  • Child Custody
  • Child Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support
  • Community and Separate Property
  • Community and Separate Debt
If you are the person filing for legal separation, you are the petitioner . The other party is the respondent. The respondent must be personally served with specific paperwork.
If the respondent does not file the necessary responding paperwork within 30 days of service, the petitioner may request an entry of default. The legal separation proceeding can then be completed without the participation of the respondent.
If the respondent responds to the paperwork and requests dissolution of marriage, the Court will grant the dissolution of marriage.
If the respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case proceeds as a contested or uncontested legal separation.
In a contested legal separation the:
  • Parties are unable to agree on some or all issues
  • Unresolved issues must be settled by the Court
  • Judgement is submitted and signed by the Court when complete
In a uncontested legal separation the:
  • Parties are able to agree on all issues
  • Judgment is submitted and signed by the Court when complete
For more information about dissolution of marriage, go to the California Courts website.
What is Nullity of Marriage (Annulment)?

Nullity of marriage (annulment) restores people to the status of unmarried persons. Certain conditions must be met before the Court can void the marriage. The person who initiated the case will have to prove that a least one of the conditions has been met before the Court will grant the nullity of marriage. The Court can also issue orders regarding property and debt division, custody and support.
For more information about nullity of marriage, go to the California Courts website.
What is Parentage (Paternity)?

Establishing parentage determines who the legal parents of a child are if the parents were not married when the child was born. The court can make custody and visitation as well as child support orders.
If you are the person filing to establish paternity, you are the petitioner. The other party is the respondent. The respondent must be personally served with specific paperwork.
If the respondent does not file the necessary responding paperwork within 30 days of service, the petitioner may request an entry of default. Once the default is entered, the paternity case can be completed without the participation of the respondent.
If the respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case proceeds as a contested or uncontested paternity case.
In a contested paternity case the:
  • Parties are unable to agree on some or all issues
  • Unresolved issues must be settled by the Court
  • Judgement is submitted and signed by the Court when complete
In an uncontested paternity case the:
  • Parties are able to agree on all issues
  • Judgement is submitted and signed by the Court when complete
For more information about parentage, go to the California Courts website.
For information about establishing parentage by an administrative process, go to the California Department of Child Support Services Paternity Opportunity Program website.
What is a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children?

A Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children (FL-260) may be filed with the court by married or unmarried parents to obtain custody and support orders. You do not need to file for dissolution of marriage/legal separation or nullity action if you are married. You do not need to establish a parental relationship if you are unmarried.
This action is limited and can only be used in certain situations by a married or unmarried parent. This petition does not deal with:
  • Property or marital status if the parents are married
  • Establish a parental relationship if the parents are unmarried
Married parents would need to file an action requesting dissolution of marriage/legal separation or nullity action to address these other issues. Unmarried parents need to file an action to establish the parental relationship.
For the form listed above and for a complete list of Judicial Council Family Law forms, go to the California Courts website.
For more information about custody and support of minor children, go to the California Courts website.
What is Child Custody and Visitation?

Before parents can address the issues of custody and visitation of their minor children, there must be an underlying action.
If the parents are married or in a domestic partnership, one of the parents must file for:
  • Divorce
  • Legal separation
  • Annulment
If the parents are unmarried, either parent must file an action to establish the parental relationship.
For information on the child custody and visitation process, go to the Los Angeles County Department of Child Support Services website.
Many parents make their own parenting agreement for custody and visitation. When both parents agree, the agreement can be filed with the Court. The agreement can be drafted by working with an attorney or by seeking assistance from the Resource Center for Self-Represented Litigants.
Parents are required to complete a mediation orientation program on-line called Our Children First (OCF) prior to the hearing and preferably, prior to mediation. If parents are unable to complete the on-line program they may attend the Parents and Children Together (PACT) offered on the first Thursday of each month at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.
For more information about OCF, go to the OCF website.
For more information about PACT, go to the PACT Information Section.
Mediation[G] is provided at no cost through the Family Court Services Department, formerly known as Conciliation Court. Mediation gives parents the opportunity to discuss with a neutral mental health professional the best plan for their children. If the parents reach an agreement, the mediator drafts the custody and visitation plan. Mediation is most effective when the parents have completed the OCF or PACT programs prior to their mediation appointment. Through the programs, parents learn the importance of focusing on their children’s best interests in developing the custody plan. Family Court Services also offers Child Custody Evaluation services for families who are unable to resolve their custody and visitation disputes.
For more information about mediation, go to Family Court Services Mediation.
For more information about scheduling a mediation appointment, go to Family Court Mediation Appointment.
For more information about evaluations, go to Child Custody Evaluations.
Parents who believe they may need additional counseling or other services may find a list of mental health professionals who provide services for families experiencing conflict or who perform private child custody evaluations. A list of Parent Education Referrals for High Conflict Parents is also available. These programs focus on the benefits of cooperative parenting, conflict resolution, problem solving and communication skills.
For a list of mental health specialists that can provide additional help, go to Parent Education Referrals for High Conflict Parents.
For information on a new program focused on young parents 24 and younger, go to the Young Parents Bright Futures informational flier.
For more information on child custody and visitation, go to the California Courts website.
What is Child Support?

A Family Law action must be filed before the issue of child support can be addressed.
IIf the parents are married, either the mother or the father must first file:
  • Dissolution of marriage
  • Legal separation
  • Nullity of marriage
  • Petition for custody and support of minor children
If the parents are unmarried, either the mother or the father must file to:
  • Establish the parental relationship
  • Petition for custody and support of minor children
There is no legal obligation to pay child support from one parent to the other until there is a court order. A court order is obtained by requesting a hearing.
Once an underlying action has been filed, the Court can address the issue of child support in the underlying action. Further discussion of child support can be located by referring to the appropriate underlying action.
Child support issues may also be raised through an action initiated by the Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department.
For information on child support services, go to the Los Angeles County Department of Child Support Services website.
The Office of the Family Law Facilitator assists parties with child support, spousal support and health insurance issues. The staff consists of attorneys and paralegals, which will meet with parties individually to attempt to resolve their support issues. The staff does not give legal advice nor does it represent a particular party in an action. There is no confidentiality nor attorney-client relationship created or intended between the office and a party.
For information on how the Family Law Facilitator can assist, go to the Office of the Family Law Facilitator.
You can send questions about which form to use or for information about Child Support procedures by email to:
ChildSupportSelfHelp@LASuperiorCourt.Org
The reply to your email may take up to 48 hours.
For more information on child support, go to the California Courts website.
What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support can be addressed when dissolution of marriage or legal separation has been filed. There is no legal obligation to pay spousal support until there is a court order.
In limited situations, the court can order spousal support in a nullity action.
A court order may be obtained by requesting a hearing.
For more information on spousal support, go to the California Courts website.
For information on how the Family Law Facilitator can assist, go to the Office of the Family Law Facilitator.
What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

A domestic violence restraining order is a Court order issued to prevent the recurrence of acts of abuse by a batterer. Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, abuse is defined as any of the following:
  • Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury
  • Sexual assault
  • Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another
  • Engaging in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined such as molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing, telephoning, destroying personal property, contacting the other by mail or otherwise, disturbing the peace of the other party.
The abuse/violence must have occurred recently.
The batterer must be:
  • A spouse
  • An ex-spouse
  • A boyfriend or girlfriend
  • An ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend
  • A person the victim is dating or has dated
  • An immediate family member (mother, father, in-laws, siblings, adult children)
  • A person the victim has children together
A victim of abuse that does not have the necessary relationship to the batterer may file a civil harassment[G] restraining order.
The restraining order can include the following:
  • Restraints on personal conduct by the batterer
  • Orders for the batterer to stay-away from the victim's home/work and/or children's school
  • Orders for the batterer to be removed from the residence
  • Child custody and visitation and support orders
  • Other miscellaneous orders
For more information on restraining orders, go to the California Courts website.
For more information about domestic violence and what to do about it, go to the California Courts website.
For more information about civil harassment and what to do about it, go to the California Courts website.
 
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