Hiring a Family Law Attorney – Is it Worth It?

family law attorney

Family law is a complex and emotional field that deals with legal issues related to family relationships. Whether you are going through a divorce, child custody battle, or other family law matter, navigating the legal system on your own can be challenging.

Hiring a family law attorney can provide numerous benefits and help protect your legal rights. In this article, we’ll discuss why you should hire a family law attorney and the benefits of it.

Legal Knowledge and Expertise

One of the primary reasons to hire a family law attorney is to benefit from their legal knowledge and expertise. Family law requires a deep understanding of statutes, case law, and legal procedures. A family law attorney has spent years studying and practicing in this area of law and is equipped with the knowledge and expertise necessary to represent your best interests.

Additionally, family law attorneys stay up-to-date with the latest legal developments in their field. They attend seminars and training sessions to keep informed about changes in the law and new legal precedents. This allows them to provide you with the most current and effective legal advice.

Guidance and Support

Going through a family law matter can be emotionally and mentally taxing. It’s common for clients to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. Hiring a family law attorney provides much-needed guidance and support during this difficult time. They can help you understand the legal process, provide options, and guide you through decision-making.

Furthermore, a family law attorney can serve as a source of emotional support. They have experience working with clients going through similar situations and can provide you with a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. Having someone to turn to for support can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that often accompanies family law matters.

Protection of Legal Rights

Family law involves sensitive and important legal issues, such as child custody, property division, and child and spousal support. With a family law attorney representing your interests, you can avoid making mistakes or being taken advantage of. In addition, a family law attorney can help protect your legal rights by advocating on your behalf and ensuring that your interests are represented in court.

Effective Negotiation

Many family law matters can be resolved through negotiation and settlement rather than going to trial. However, negotiating with your spouse or partner can be challenging, particularly if emotions are high or you have difficulty communicating effectively. A family law attorney can help facilitate negotiation and reach a settlement that is fair and reasonable for both parties.

Furthermore, a family law attorney can help you understand the pros and cons of various settlement options. They can advise you on what is reasonable and not and help you negotiate terms that meet your needs and interests.

Courtroom Experience

While negotiation and settlement are often the preferred methods of resolving family law matters, sometimes going to court is necessary. Having a family law attorney with courtroom experience can be invaluable if your case goes to court. A family law attorney knows how to navigate the courtroom and can present your case persuasively and effectively.

Additionally, a family law attorney has experience working with judges and other court personnel. They know what to expect in a courtroom and can help prepare you for the experience. Having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

Efficient Resolution

Family law matters can be time-consuming and costly. Hiring a family law attorney can help resolve your case as efficiently as possible. An attorney can help you prioritize the issues that are most important to you and can work to resolve those issues quickly and effectively.

Furthermore, an attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes that could prolong the legal process. By working with an attorney, you can save time and money in the long run by resolving your family law matter promptly and efficiently.

Azemika & Azemika, A Family Law Attorneys You Can Count On

Family law matters can be emotionally draining, but hiring a family law attorney can help alleviate stress and uncertainty. If you are facing a family law matter, don’t try to navigate the legal system alone. Hiring a family law attorney can ensure your legal rights are protected, and you receive the best possible outcome.

At Azemika & Azemika, our firm is exclusively devoted to family law. Because of this, we can efficiently handle cases involving the dissolution of domestic partnerships, divorce, child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, abandonment, adoption, and paternity. In addition, our vast experience in family law allows us to customize every case to suit our client’s needs.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Learn the Different Types of Visitation Orders in California

visitation orders

Visitation is an important aspect of family law that allows non-custodial parents to maintain a meaningful relationship with their children. In California, there are different types of visitation orders that can be made by the court depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

The courts prefer to keep both parents involved in the child’s upbringing. However, they will always put the child’s best interest at the forefront when making decisions about custody and visitation. In this blog post, we will break down the different types of visitation in California and provide a guide for non-custodial parents.

1. Scheduled Visitation

Children typically benefit from structure and routine. Thus, scheduled visitation orders are very common with the court, as well as with parents. Scheduled visitation specifies dates and times that children will spend with each parent.

2. Reasonable Visitation

There isn’t as much structure with reasonable visitation as with scheduled visitation. This type of visitation allows parents to make a joint decision over the time their children spend with each parent.

This works well for parents who still get along and are close after the divorce. Keep in mind, however, that while this type of visitation allows a great deal of flexibility, it also leaves room for disagreements should the relationship between the parents deteriorate.

3. Unsupervised Visitation

The most common type of visitation arrangement in California is unsupervised visitation. Unsupervised visitation allows non-custodial parents to spend time with their children without a third-party supervisor. The court may order unsupervised visitation if it determines that the non-custodial parent is not a danger to their child and can provide a safe and stable environment for them.

Non-custodial parents need to understand that unsupervised visitation comes with certain responsibilities. They must ensure that the child is safe and protected during their time together, and they must follow all court orders and parenting plans. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in the court modifying the visitation arrangement or terminating visitation rights altogether.

4. Supervised Visitation

Supervised visitation is a type of visitation arrangement that requires the presence of a third-party supervisor during the visits. This can be a professional supervisor or a trusted family member or friend approved by the court. Supervised visitation is usually ordered when there are concerns about the non-custodial parent’s ability to provide a safe environment for the child.

The court may order supervised visitation if the non-custodial parent has a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, or other behaviors that risk the child’s safety and well-being. Supervised visitation aims to protect the child while maintaining a relationship with the non-custodial parent.

Non-custodial parents should be aware that supervised visitation can be expensive, as they are responsible for paying the fees associated with the professional supervisor. Therefore, they should also build a positive relationship with the supervisor to ensure the visits are as productive as possible.

5. No Visitation

In rare cases, the court may order no visitation between the non-custodial parent and the child. This usually occurs when the non-custodial parent poses a significant risk to the child’s safety or has been found to have committed severe abuse or neglect. In addition, no visitation orders are typically made as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted.

Non-custodial parents who have been ordered no visitation should seek legal counsel to explore their options for appealing the decision or modifying the order. They should also seek counseling or therapy to address any underlying issues that may have led to the no-visitation order.

6. Virtual Visitation

Virtual visitation is a relatively new type of arrangement that allows non-custodial parents to communicate with their children electronically. This can include video calls, instant messaging, or email. In addition, virtual visitation benefits non-custodial parents who live far away from their children or have limited visitation rights.

Virtual visitation is becoming increasingly popular in California, and many courts now include it as a standard part of parenting plans. Non-custodial parents interested in virtual visitation should discuss it with their attorney and the other parent to determine the best course of action.

Let Azemika & Azemika Help You Get the Visitation Rights You Deserve

Understanding the different visitation arrangements in California is essential for non-custodial parents who want to maintain a meaningful relationship with their children. By familiarizing themselves with these arrangements, non-custodial parents can work with their attorneys and the court to create a visitation plan that meets the needs of everyone involved. If you feel that your parental rights have been violated, you should enlist the services of an experienced family law attorney.

Azemika & Azemika has provided exceptional family law representation to clients throughout Kern County for over three decades. Our partners have handled some of the county’s most challenging family law cases. Our objective is to provide clients with aggressive, knowledgeable, affordable representation.

Contact us today for a case evaluation.

Choosing Between Legal Separation and Divorce in California

legal separation and divorce

Although everyone hopes for a happy ever after when they get married, it doesn’t always work out that way. And if you find yourself at that point in your marriage and live in California, there are two legal options: legal separation or divorce. Learning the difference between the two is essential so that you can choose the option that works best for your circumstances.

While both options involve a couple living separately, some significant differences exist. This article will discuss the difference between legal separation and divorce in California and how to decide which is right for you.

Legal Separation in California

Legal separation is a process in which a couple can separate their lives but remain legally married. This process allows the couple to live separate lives, but marriage’s legal obligations and responsibilities still bind them.

In California, legal separation is governed by the California Family Code FAM § 2320, which outlines the procedure for obtaining a legal separation and the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved. Legal separation involves negotiations similar to a divorce, such as the division of marital property, child custody and support, visitation rights, and spousal support.

When to Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce

Here are some reasons why you may want to choose legal separation.

  • You want to live separately but aren’t sure you want to end your marriage altogether.
  • You aren’t sure if you want to end your marriage altogether, but you want to lay out a property, financial and co-parenting issues.
  • Your religious beliefs prohibit divorce.
  • Your personal beliefs prohibit divorce.
  • You still want to take advantage of the benefits of marriage, such as remaining on your spouse’s health insurance, tax benefits, and receiving government benefits such as Social Security.
  • You haven’t met the residency requirements for a divorce, but you want to be legally separated.

Requirements for a Legal Separation in California

When filing for legal separation in California, you or your spouse must be a legal state resident. Since California is a “no-fault” state (meaning neither of you has to prove that someone did something wrong), you don’t have to provide a specific reason for the separation. However, you must still explain why you want to separate—for example, irreconcilable differences.

Divorce in California

Divorce, or “dissolution of marriage,” is the legal process of permanently ending a marriage. When a divorce is finalized, you are legally single and able to remarry. You have the choice to mediate or litigate your divorce. 

In California, divorce is governed by the California Family Code FAM § 4336, which outlines the procedure for obtaining a divorce and the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved. Like legal separation, both spouses must agree on how assets, debts, custody, and support payments will be handled.

When to Choose Divorce Over Legal Separation

Here are some reasons why you may want to choose divorce.

  • You both know that you don’t want to reconcile.
  • You want to remarry in the future. However, to legally remarry, you must be divorced.
  • You want a financial split from your spouse.
  • There are no financial benefits from being legally separated.

Requirements for Divorce in California

You or your spouse must be a legal resident of the state for at least six months to file for a divorce in California. In addition, that person must have also lived in the county where the separation or divorce is being filed for at least three months. If you don’t meet the residency requirements for a divorce, you can file for a legal separation and then file for divorce after you complete the residency requirements.

Exception for Same-Sex Marriages

The exception to the residency requirement is same-sex marriage. So if you were married in California but now live in a state that will not allow you to divorce, you can file in California. However, remember that this can cause issues like marital property, support, money, and your children.

Turn to the Expert Family Law Attorneys at Azemika and Azemika

There are advantages to both legal separation and divorce, so it’s essential to know the differences between them to make the right choice for your situation. If you have any questions or are still unsure of which option is right for you, enlisting the services of an experienced family law attorney can be beneficial.

At Azemika and Azemika, we know there’s no easy way to end your marriage. We will devise a fast, effective solution for your unique circumstances and your family’s needs. We will fight for you and protect you and your family throughout the separation or divorce process.
For comprehensive legal counsel, contact us today for a consultation.

The Different Types of Adoption in California Explained

adoption in california

Adoption is a beautiful and loving act of creating a family for a child who needs it. And it allows biological parents facing an unexpected pregnancy to place their child with adoptive parents looking to build their family.

It’s a process that involves legal and emotional commitments and can be complicated, but the outcome is worth all the effort. In California, a prospective adoptive parent can choose several types of adoption, and each has its unique requirements, processes, and benefits.

This article will discuss the different types of adoption in California and some important factors to consider when choosing the right type of adoption for you.

Step-parent Adoption

Step-parent adoption is a process that enables a step-parent to legally adopt their step-child and become their parent in every sense of the word. The step-parent adoption process in California is relatively simple, especially compared to other types of adoption.

One of the most important things to remember when considering step-parent adoption in California is that the biological parent’s consent is required. That means the biological parent must agree to terminate their parental rights, allowing the step-parent to adopt their child. In addition, in some cases, the biological parent may have already passed away, so the stepparent must provide evidence of this.

Foster Care Adoption

Foster care adoption is a type of adoption where a child is placed in a foster home while waiting for a permanent family. It’s typically done through the state government or a private agency, and the goal is to provide a safe, stable, and loving environment for the child while they wait for their permanent family. The children in foster care come from various backgrounds and can be of any age, race, religion, or culture.

Prospective adoptive parents interested in foster care adoption must undergo a rigorous screening process, including background checks, home studies, and training to become foster parents. The process may take several months, but once completed, the adoptive parents become licensed foster parents and can begin fostering and adopting a child.

In California, foster care adoption is a cost-free process, and the state provides financial support for the child’s care, including medical expenses, clothing, and educational needs. Therefore, foster care adoption is an excellent option for those who are open to adopting children of any age and background and are willing to provide a safe and loving environment.

Domestic Infant Adoption

Domestic infant adoption is a type of adoption where prospective adoptive parents adopt a newborn or young infant who is born within the United States. Domestic infant adoptions are usually done through private adoption agencies or attorneys.

The domestic infant adoption process involves the birth mother choosing the adoptive parents for her baby. Then, the adoptive parents and birth mother work together to create an adoption plan that works best for everyone involved.

Prospective adoptive parents must undergo a rigorous screening process, including background checks, home studies, and training. They must also be prepared to handle the emotional aspects of adoption and be open to communication with the birth mother throughout the process.

Domestic infant adoption is a costlier option compared to foster care adoption. Still, many adoptive parents feel that the benefits of being able to adopt a newborn or young infant are worth the investment. Adoptive parents can also take advantage of the tax credits and other financial benefits available for adopting a special needs child or a child who was part of the California public child welfare agency.

International Adoption

International adoption is a type of adoption where prospective adoptive parents adopt a child from another country. International adoption can be a complex and lengthy process, and prospective adoptive parents must be prepared to meet the requirements of both the country of origin and the United States.

In California, international adoption is usually done through private adoption agencies or attorneys; therefore is typically a costlier option compared to domestic infant adoption or foster care adoption. However, prospective adoptive parents must undergo a rigorous screening process, including background checks, home studies, and training.

Open vs. Closed Adoptions

Depending on how involved the birth parents are will determine if your adoption will be open or closed.

Open Adoption

In an open adoption, the biological parent and adoptive parents share their identities and remain in contact during and after the adoption. Some people mistake an open adoption for co-parenting. This is not the case. As adoptive parents, you can set contact limits with the child’s biological parents.

Closed Adoption

In a closed adoption, both parents have no contact, and their identities aren’t shared. All adoptions in California are Closed Adoptions by default. However, you can still opt for an Open Adoption.

Let Azemika and Azemika Help You on Your Adoption Journey

The adoption process and the laws surrounding it can seem complex and confusing. Seeking the assistance of a family law attorney should be your first step to becoming an adoptive family.

At Azemika and Azemika, we know how exciting becoming a parent can be. We will advise you on all aspects of the adoption process so you can start parenthood in the right direction on firm legal grounds.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What to Know About Gray Divorce

gray divorce

Ending a marriage can be difficult regardless of how long you’ve been married. But the longer your marriage lasts, the more complicated it can get. If you’re over 50 and are in the midst of or considering a divorce, you’re part of a growing trend called “Gray Divorce.”

The United States Census Bureau reported in 2021 that the divorce rate for adults between the age of 55-60 hit a record high of 43%, making this age group the highest divorce rate among married adults over the age of 20. And this isn’t a trend specific to the United States. The number of gray divorces has increased worldwide.

This article will discuss eight things you should know when going through a gray divorce in California.

#1. Marital Assets Will Be Split 50/50

Two methods are used to divide marital property in the United States; equitable distribution and community property. California is a community property state.

That means each spouse is entitled to half of all marital assets (and responsible for half of all marital debt) regardless of which spouse earned the income or whose name is on the paperwork for the assets/debt.

#2. Spousal Support Will Likely Be Awarded

Spousal support will likely be granted if your marriage lasts over ten years. However, this doesn’t mean you will automatically be awarded spousal support. Before making a decision, the judge will take into consideration the following factors:

  • Your standard of living during the marriage
  • The income and assets of each spouse
  • The need for support
  • The higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay spousal support

#3. You Will Likely Only Receive Half of Your Nest Egg or Retirement Fund

California is a no-fault divorce state. That means that it doesn’t matter who was at fault for the divorce, marital assets will still be divided evenly in your divorce. This includes any nest egg or retirement funds you and your spouse may have accumulated throughout your marriage.

#4. You May Have to Reenter the Workforce

You may have become accustomed to not working during retirement while your spouse worked a regular job during your marriage. However, you may have to get a job if you’re not granted spousal support or if it’s insufficient to cover your expenses.

#5. Even Adult Children Can Be Affected By Gray Divorce

Although you won’t have to deal with raising children as a single parent, grown children can also be affected by divorce. Even though you shouldn’t overshare the reason behind your divorce, you should give your children a reasonable explanation for what’s happening. This can allow them to process the divorce and try to make sense of what’s going on.

#6. Avoid Dating Before Your Divorce is Final

It can be lonely, especially for older people, when getting a divorce. However, getting into a new relationship can be a mistake before your divorce is final. Not only could it upset your children, but it could anger your spouse and end up increasing the time and cost of your divorce.

#7. Get a Prenuptial Agreement if You Remarry

Your divorce has been finalized, and you’ve fallen in love again. If you choose to remarry, you should get a prenuptial agreement. A prenup can outline the assets you wish to keep separate if your marriage ends in divorce.

#8. You Could Receive Social Security Benefits From Your Spouse’s Record

If you’ve been divorced longer than two years, and your ex is receiving retirement or disability benefits, you might be able to collect social security benefits from your spouse’s record.

You may be able to collect on your spouse’s record if :

  • You were married for ten years or longer
  • You are unmarried
  • You are 62 or older
  • Your social security benefit is less than your ex-spouse’s
  • You are eligible to receive disability benefits or Social Security retirement

You will be paid your benefit amount first if you qualify for social security benefits. Then, if your ex-spouse’s record is higher, you’ll get additional benefits so that your monthly benefit amount equals the higher amount.

Turn to Azemika & Azemika, the Family Law Experts in Bakersfield

Gray divorce can affect multiple generations of a family. And while it can be scary to start over after you’ve been married for decades, it can also provide you the opportunity for growth and self-discovery and can give you a chance to form new relationships. If you or someone you know is considering gray divorce, it’s essential to enlist the help of a qualified, experienced divorce attorney.

At Azemika & Azemika, our practice is exclusively devoted to family law. With over 64 years of handling family law cases, our partners have successfully handled some of the most challenging and high-asset family law cases in Kern County. We provide our clients with aggressive, knowledgeable, and affordable representation.

Contact us today if you’re looking for a family law attorney who is sensitive to your needs and will fight for you.

What Can A Family Law Attorney Do For You?

The family lawyer shares the figure of a man and a woman on scales.

Family law attorneys focus on issues in family relationships that involve divorce, marriage, adoption, child custody, child support, paternity, alimony, division of property, and more.

Many people will find they need an attorney at some point. Most attorneys specialize in certain areas and if you need a family law attorney in Bakersfield, make sure you hire an attorney who is experienced in family law.

A family law attorney is one of the most widely utilized types of attorneys, as many people frequently need them. This article will tell you some of the various issues a family law attorney helps you with and what they can do for you.

The Role Of A Family Law Attorney

A family attorney can help you with various things, including court proceedings and helping to negotiate through mediation. A family law attorney helps with issues around the family, family, legal paperwork, and more.

#1. Divorce

Divorce is essentially the dissolution of a contract; however, it’s also very emotionally challenging and legally complex. It is important to hire an attorney when navigating a divorce. When you are going through a divorce, it is emotionally, mentally, and physically tiring, and a family law attorney can help represent you using their experience, knowledge, and expertise. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the complex family court system, keep you from making some common mistakes and ensure that your rights and family are protected. They will also help alleviate some of the stress of a divorce and ensure that all the legal paperwork is filed correctly.

#2. Pre and Postnuptial Agreements

Legal documents such as pre and post-nuptial agreements detail how everything will be distributed to each party after a divorce. The prenuptial agreement is created before marriage, and all property and assets of both parties are outlined as and how they will be divided after the couple’s divorce. Certain things, such as child support and custody, cannot enter a prenuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement is created after the couple is already married.

#3. Spousal and Alimony Support

Family law attorneys must negotiate common issues such as spousal and alimony support. Depending on the state you live in, a judge may make the final decision, or some states have laws regulating the amount of spousal support awarded depending on various factors.

Family law attorneys can provide the court with all the needed information to help achieve the best possible outcome for their client. State guidelines for awarding spousal support may vary; however, the judge still requires accurate information, including such things as:

  • Income
  • Level of accumulated joint debt
  • Ability to work and earning potential
  • Sometimes, even the conduct of each spouse will be considered

Your family law attorney will help gather and request all necessary documents to help you navigate this complex process.

# 4. Child Custody

Child custody is usually an emotionally charged issue for all parties involved in the matter of custody and is determined by many factors, including the following:

  • The parent and child bond for both parents
  • Criminal activity of one or both parents
  • Drug or substance abuse of one or both parents
  • The stability of each home
  • Domestic violence, including emotional, physical and mental, and financial abuse

Sometimes a child custody agreement can be created before going to court, and the judge will usually support it unless the child’s best interest is not being served. However, if no agreement is reached, it is up to the family law attorneys to gather evidence and present it to the judge to ensure that the child’s best interest is cared for when deciding child custody.

#5. Child Support

The majority of states have specific formulas used for determining child support. One of the crucial jobs of a family law attorney is ensuring that the court has all the necessary information to calculate the correct amount. Child support is to help ensure that the children have the financial resources they need and would enjoy it if both parents were living together. Information that needs to be gathered includes the following:

  • Accurate and transparent reporting of income
  • Healthcare expenses for the children
  • School and education expenses for the children
  • Allowable deductions

Your family law attorney can also gather evidence and report it if the other party hides resources or is intentionally underemployed or unemployed.

#6. Adoption

Family law attorneys are helpful during adoptions in California as they can ensure the paperwork is filled out and filed correctly. Adoptions often come with a lot of legal red tape, and a family law attorney can help your adoption be processed as quickly as possible.

#7. Paternity

If paternity is questioned or undetermined, a family law attorney can help protect your rights and family. This includes establishing paternity to receive child support or to obtain parental rights.

#8. Domestic Violence/Abuse or Child Neglect

If you or your child experiences neglect or abuse, hiring a family law attorney to help you is essential. The attorney may represent the child or you if you’re being abused physically, mentally, emotionally, or experiencing financial abuse. They may also be in the position of defending the parent who is being accused. Hiring an experienced family law attorney is essential to protect you and your family.

Azemika & Azemika Law Is Here To Help You

At Azemika & Azemika, a family law attorney in Bakersfield, California, we handle divorce cases, dissolutions of domestic partnerships, child custody and support, paternity, alimony and spousal support, adoption, and more.

Our highly skilled attorneys are here to help you navigate this challenging time and complex legal system. Contact us today for a free consultation.

How To Know If You Need A Family Law Attorney

Wooden toy family and judge mallet

If you have a conflict within your family unit, you may wonder if it is time to hire a family law attorney. Family lawyers are responsible for dealing with sensitive issues and relationship conflicts and navigating the complex family court system.

While everyone goes through conflict in their relationships at some point in their life, there comes a time when you need a family law attorney. However, it can be challenging to know when it is time. 

We are here to help you! This article will go over some of the signs that are good indicators for when it is time to hire a family law attorney and give tips for choosing the best one for you.

Why Hire A Family Law Attorney

Family law covers various issues such as divorce, child support, custody, adoption, and paternity. Laws vary depending on the state, so hiring a family law attorney can significantly impact the outcome of your case.

Here are some reasons for hiring an attorney to help resolve your family conflicts and concerns.

1. You Are Considering or Ready To File For Divorce

Filing for divorce is rarely an easy decision. It most often results from extensive and deep unresolvable conflicts in a marriage. If you ever find yourself in this position, one of the best things you can do is hire a divorce lawyer to ensure you avoid some common mistakes.

An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to walk you through the proceedings and help you navigate this challenging time. They will be sure that you file the paperwork correctly and assist you in negotiating your divorce. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney will help you feel relaxed and confident in alleviating some of the stress of filing for divorce.

2. Child Custody Arrangements and Questions

Determining child custody is usually an emotionally charged issue. Most parents want to have as much time with their children as possible, and choosing how to split that time between households can be challenging and hard on everyone involved.

My family law attorney has the expertise and experience to ensure that your rights and family are protected and that you can maintain a close relationship with your children. They will assist you in developing a sustainable child custody and visitation arrangement and plead your case to help you reach the desired outcome.

3. Child Support

Most people’s financial situations are significantly impacted during a divorce. It may be concerning how you will cover expenses and care for your children after your divorce, and that is why determining child support payments is crucial.

One of the great things about working with a family law attorney is that they deeply understand your state’s guidelines and the process the judge will use to decide how much a parent is responsible for financially. Hiring an attorney will ensure that you have someone who understands your situation to help you come up with the best solution and ensure that you have the financial support you need. An expert lawyer is priceless when implementing a fair child support agreement plan.

4. Arranging Alimony Payments

Depending upon your situation, you or your spouse may be required to make alimony payments to support the changing financial position due to the divorce. 

Usually, alimony or spousal support comes from one spouse who can prove they were financially dependent upon their spouse during the marriage. An example of this would be if one parent stayed home with the children and their spouse worked, then they would qualify for alimony payments. A judge decides on alimony payments, and an experienced family lawyer can look at your case and determine if you have a good chance of being approved. While it may seem like a hassle, going through these proceedings is worth the time and effort.

5. Domestic Dispute Cases

The other reason why hiring a family law attorney Is to help you solve a family dispute, such as custody agreements, property settlements, and family-related matters. A family lawyer can also mediate to help resolve legal arguments and conflicts between family members.

6. Parent Relocation

Life sometimes brings unexpected or desired changes after divorce. However, one parent can’t move away with the child without the other parent’s consent. There are many factors to be considered, including things like if one parent is pushing for better employment, to be closer to family, arranging new visitation agreements, any possible negative impacts on the child/parent relationships, new marriages, and more.

A family law attorney understands the complex issue of parent relocation and will be able to present your case to the judge and protect your rights and your family.

7. Adoption

Navigating the adoption of a child can be a complex legal process that may take several months to complete. Often adoptions will fall through due to legal issues. 

Adopting a child involves a lot of paperwork and submitting the documents to relevant agencies. You must prove that you are physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially capable of taking care of an adopted child to the state or child welfare services. You may also be required to participate in court hearings. Hiring a family attorney will ensure that all the paperwork is done accurately and that your case is presented favorably to the court.

Hire Azemika & Azemika Law, Experts In Family Law 

At Azemika & Azemika Law, we specialize in family law. Our highly skilled attorneys have extensive experience navigating California divorce laws, child custody, support and visitations, adoption, paternity, and more. We are here to help and support you and protect your family, rights, and assets. Contact us today for a consultation!

Things To Know About Paternity In California

paternity in california

Establishing paternity in California is to identify the child’s biological father. It can be done by either the courts or the parents. When you establish paternity, it has various advantages for both parents and the child or children.

A child’s father is financially responsible for helping to support and is legally allowed to be a part of his child’s life. California is a progressive state, and paternity law is no exception. 

Suppose you need or want to establish paternity in California. In that case, It is essential to hire an experienced family law attorney who knows how to handle paternity cases to ensure the legal paperwork is done correctly and your rights and family are protected. This article will discuss how California paternity is established and the advantages of doing so for the child and the parents.

Establishing Paternity in California

The law for establishing paternity can depend on the circumstances. 

Establishing Paternity For Married Couples

If the parents are married at birth, the husband is the child’s presumed father unless paternity is questioned in the first two years. 

If another man, who is not the husband, fathers the child, he has the legal right to establish paternity in California and can request a paternity test. Occasionally, the court will show preferential treatment of a stable marriage over a biological father’s paternity if it is in the child’s best interest.

Establishing Paternity For Unmarried Couples

The biological father of a child has responsibilities and rights to the child regardless of his relationship with the mother. If two people live together as a family and the man exhibits commitment and responsibility towards the child, he is the presumed father. A man may request a paternity test to prove or disprove his parental status; however, if he has acted as the legal father, he still often retains rights to custody and financial responsibility.

California Paternity: Voluntary Declaration of Paternity

The easiest way is for both parties to sign a “Voluntary Declaration of Paternity” form, identifying them as the parents and the man as the biological father to establish paternity in California.

Alternative Ways To Establish Paternity In California

If paternity is in question, the best way to establish paternity in California is to take a genetic test. In California, the word “paternity” is used interchangeably with the word “parentage” or “parental relationship.” The next step is to file a parentage case and, ideally, hire an experienced paternity lawyer. 

These options for establishing paternity include the following:

  • A Prenatal test can be done before a child is born, once the mother has reached eight weeks into the pregnancy. Make sure you choose the non-invasive prenatal paternity test, which is significantly safer than other alternatives. All that is necessary is a blood sample from the mother as she is sharing blood with the baby during her pregnancy. The doctor can isolate the baby’s DNA to identify the child’s paternity.
  • A DNA test is a newer, more accurate method for determining paternity. DNA testing involves getting a blood or tissue sample and is highly precise, unlike a blood test that only determines the likelihood that a man is a father. It is common to do at least two DNA tests for confirmation. Most DNA tests will get a sample from a cheek swab.
  • A Blood test can be done after the child is born, although they aren’t as accurate as a DNA test. A blood test will identify who is likely the father.

Advantages Of Establishing Paternity In California

Some benefits of establishing paternity may be apparent. However, there are several that you may not consider, including the following:

  • Being able to access family medical history and records
  • Legally documenting both parents
  • Both parents being named on the birth certificate
  • Life and health insurance coverage from both parents
  • The right to receive veterans benefits or social security when available 
  • The right to inherit assets from both parents
  • The father may sign documents such as permission slips or release forms for the child
  • Receiving child support
  • Physical and legal custody of the child
  • Determining where and with who the child lives
  • Visitation rights, which is when the noncustodial parent will see the child
  • Establishing parental rights

Dealing With Unusual Paternity Situations

If you find yourself in a complicated paternity situation, there are some standard solutions.

  • If you have a baby with another man while married, hiring a paternity lawyer is a good idea. If the husband wants to fight for the right to keep the child and the judge determines it is in the best interest of the child, then the husband will most likely retain parental rights.
  • Sometimes, you need to determine paternity after a divorce if the husband is questioning and wants to dispute who the child’s biological father is. If the legal father isn’t the biological father, he can still be granted custody rights and be required to pay child support, even if he doesn’t want to. The court always acts in the child’s best interest, no matter who is the biological father, and sometimes, adoption of the child may be the best course of action.

In some circumstances, you can challenge paternity results. If you find yourself in this situation in Bakersfield, hire a lawyer with the expertise to help you through this challenging situation.

Hire An Experienced Family Law Attorney To Help You

Whether you are going through a divorce, dealing with a paternity case, adoption, child custody, or child support, hiring an experienced family law attorney to help you is vital.

At Azemika & Azemika, our law office in Kern County is exclusively devoted to the complex legal system of family law. Our partners have a combined total of over 56 years of experience in family law, and protecting the best interest of your children and family is our top priority.

Contact us today for a consultation, and we will work to deliver the best outcome possible for your case.

FC 271 Sanctions

A California divorce court is reversed by an Appellate Court when the judge sanctions Mother and her attorney for actions that the Appellate Court found were not sanctionable. The California Court of Appeal has ruled that a Trial Court was wrong by ordering sanctions under California Family Code Section 271 [divorce court may impose attorney’s fees based on conduct of party or attorney that furthers or frustrates settlement] against Mother and her attorney on the grounds that Mother argued that Father should not have overnight visitation with their child until child turns two years old, Mother filed a motion to disqualify the trial judge, Mother submitted a proposed judgment with errors, and Mother argued that Father’s video calls with child should be recorded.

In the case Featherstone v. Martinez (Decided on December 21, 2022), Mother and Father had one child together in 2019. Two months after child was born, Mother filed a parentage petition requesting primary physical and joint legal custody of child. In her supporting declaration, Mother acknowledged that Father was an involved father, but that he traveled frequently for work and was in town only three to four days each month. Mother requested that Father’s initial visitation with child last only three to four hours at a time and take place at her home and that Father provide two weeks’ advance notice before each visit. Mother also requested that overnight visits with Father begin once child turns two years old.

Father filed a response and, in his proposed visitation schedule, requested each visit last eight hours and that overnight visits begin when child turns six months old.

At a hearing in December 2019, Mother appeared without an attorney and Trial Court commented on Mother’s parentage petition stating that “the way you wrote it, it was along the lines of, I control everything, I’m the boss, and, you know, I’ll do him a favor and let him see his child.” When Trial Court asked Mother if she was breast-feeding, Trial Court said “don’t . . . lie” and “don’t exaggerate” before Mother answered. Trial Court finally commented “I’m going to side completely with [Father] today, and I think in the future you’re going to have a really hard time, because although I’ve tried to explain it, emotionally—and I understand—you do not feel like he’s an equal parent and you feel like you need to drag this out and make it slow.”

After this hearing, Mother retained counsel. In March of 2020, Mother’s attorney filed a motion to disqualify the judge under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 170.1 [challenge of trial judge for cause] based on purported bias that the judge demonstrated during the first hearing. Trial Court stated that the motion was “almost by definition untimely under these circumstances.” Mother’s attorney responded that she received the

transcript from the December 2019, hearing only a few days ago. Trial Court struck the motion as untimely and during argument on visitation issues during the same hearing, Trial Court stated that Mother’s attorney was not directly answering its questions and warned that, without improvement, they would “start talking about sanctions.”

In July of 2020, Mother submitted a proposed judgment, to which Father objected on the grounds that the proposed judgment contained several errors, including misstatements of Trial Court’s ruling. Trial Court rejected the proposed judgment.

In February 2021, Father filed a trial brief in which he requested Mother pay $7,000 in attorney’s fees pursuant to Family Code Section 271(a) [divorce court may impose fee order based on conduct of party or attorney that furthers or frustrates settlement] due to Mother’s purported unreasonable litigation, including her motion to disqualify the judge, the proposed judgment that contained misstatements of the Trial Court’s ruling, and her general refusal to settle.

At a hearing on February 24, 2021, Trial Court recounted its concerns regarding Mother’s litigation conduct. Regarding Mother’s motion to disqualify the judge, Trial Court commented “[Mother] has the right to believe I was biased. She always has that right, and I can’t sanction her for that . . .. [But] she does not have the right to file late, improperly noticed, and/or out of context motions.” In response to Mother’s attorney’s argument that Father had not properly noticed a motion for sanctions under Family Code Section 271, Trial Court stated “I think I noticed [Mother] for sanctions on my own motion at one of the earlier hearings when things were not proceeding so well . . .. It’s the court’s own motion.”

At a June 21, 2021, hearing, while the parties were discussing their agreement that Father would have video calls with child, Mother interjected that she agreed to use Zoom only and not any other platforms, since Zoom calls may be recorded. When Trial Court inquired why Mother wanted to record these video calls, Mother said she would like to record the calls because she and Father had disagreed in the past about whether certain statements were made. With regard to Mother’s insistence that Father use Zoom, Trial Court stated Mother had a controlling mindset and that although it was prepared to give “just the tiniest sanctions . . . now sanctions are back, thoroughly back, on the table[.]”

In September 2021, Trial Court held a hearing to impose sanctions. At the beginning of the hearing, Trial Court stated that the motion for sanctions has been “noticed, re-noticed, and repeatedly noticed.”

Trial Court again recounted its issues with Mother’s conduct. First, Trial Court stated that Mother’s declaration was misleading and her attempt to prevent Father from having overnights for two years while also limiting his visits to three to four hours at a time was “in and of itself, sanctionable.” Second, Trial Court stated that Mother’s motion to disqualify the judge was untimely and procedurally deficient and “was written out of context in an intentionally inflammatory and dishonest manner.” Third, Trial Court noted the proposed judgment prepared by Mother that Trial Court rejected “because it was replete with errors and omissions[.]” And finally, Trial Court stated that Mother’s request to use only Zoom for video calls was “alarming, outrageous, unbelievable, tone deaf, counterproductive . . .” and that when Trial Court attempted to note its problem with Mother’s request, Mother’s attorney interrupted “in a rude and abrupt manner.” At the conclusion of the hearing, Trial Court sanctioned Mother in the amount of $10,000 and separately sanctioned Mother’s attorney in the amount of $10,000.

Mother appealed and now, a California Court of Appeals has reversed Trial Court’s decision. The Appellate Court has ruled that there is a question whether Family Code Section 271 authorizes a court to issue sanctions on its own motion. The order for sanctions against Mother’s attorney was improper since Family Code Section 271(c) provides that an award of attorney’s fees and costs as a sanction is payable only from the property or income of the party against whom sanction is imposed. Furthermore, Mother’s declarations, her motion to disqualify the judge, her proposed judgment, and her request that Father’s video calls with child take place on Zoom did not constitute sanctionable conduct. Accordingly, the Appellate Court reversed Trial Court’s award of sanctions against Mother and her attorney.

Substituted Service

Unfortunately, in many legal actions including divorce actions, the Respondent or Defendant inaccurately believes that if they avoid service of the legal papers, they can avoid the legal action altogether. In a recent decision, a California Appellate Court has ruled that substantial evidence supports that substituted service was proper where after several attempts to personally serve the Defendant, process server served the co-resident who stated that Defendant was not at home and where Defendant’s name appeared on the community’s directory.

In the case of First American Title Insurance, Company v. Banerjee (decided on December 29, 2022), Plaintiff One, a real estate broker, filed a lawsuit, in 2017, against Defendant One, a rental property company, and Defendant Two, the president and alleged alter ego of Defendant One, for breach of contract. Plaintiff One also included in its complaint a promissory estoppel cause of action against the escrow agent. In its complaint, Plaintiff One alleged Defendants signed a commission agreement in which Plaintiff One was to arrange for a tenant to lease a property owned by Defendant One that would then pay a three percent (3%) commission fee to Plaintiff One if the tenant decided to buy the property. In 2016, the tenant purchased the property in question from Defendant One for approximately $5 million. Plaintiff One demanded the escrow agent (Plaintiff Two) to hold $145,000, which represented the three percent (3%) commission fee, as well as $6,000 in outstanding lease fees. Although Plaintiff Two initially stated it would hold the funds, it ultimately did not pay Plaintiff One.

Plaintiff One served Defendants the Summons and the Complaint through substituted serviced. In the declaration of due diligence, the process server stated that the service was attempted at an address in Pleasanton on six occasions in March 2017. On the final attempt, a person at the Pleasanton address denied knowing either Defendants. The process server then attempted service at a Dublin address on seven occasions. The Dublin address was listed on the California Secretary of State’s website as the mailing address for Defendant One. This residence was in a gated community and the process server was unable to gain access through the gates during the first seven attempts. No one answered the intercom calls, although Defendant Two’s name was listed on the directory. On an eighth attempt at the Dublin address, the process server served the documents by substituted service on a “co-resident” who stated that Defendant Two was not at home. The process server also mailed the documents to the Dublin address.

In June 2017, Trial Court entered default judgments against both Defendants after they failed to file a response to the Complaint.

In July 2017, Plaintiff Two filed a cross-complaint against Defendants for indemnity and contribution. A proof of service indicted that Defendant Two was personally served the Summons and Cross-complaint by a process server in September 2017.

Plaintiff One subsequently settled its claims with Plaintiff Two and assigned its claims against Defendants to Plaintiff Two. In June 2019, Trial Court entered an order substituting Plaintiff Two as the sole plaintiff in the action. Plaintiff Two then filed a request for default judgment against Defendants in December 2019, and Trial Court entered the default judgment against Defendants in May 2020.

In June 2020, Defendants filed a motion to set aside the default and default judgment, arguing (1) the judgment against them was void for failure to state a cause of action against them; (2) the judgment was void because service of the original Summons and Complaint was improper; and (3) the default judgment should be set aside for mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 473(b). In support of this argument, Defendant Two submitted a declaration that he did not reside at the Dublin address when the original Summons and Complaint were served by substituted service. Trial Court denied the motion to set aside the default judgment. Defendants appealed, but California Court of Appeals has not affirmed Trial Court’s decision.

The California Court of Appeals has ruled that substantial evidence supports Trial Court’s decision that substituted service was proper. A defendant challenging a default judgment may seek relief through either a direct appeal from the judgment, a motion to set aside the judgment, or a collateral attack on the judgment but “each avenue has . . . limitations on the type of errors that can be addressed”. Pursuant to California Supreme Court decision in Christerson v. French (1919) 180 Cal. 523, a default judgment is not void if the court has jurisdiction of the parties and the subject matter, whether or not the complaint states a cause of action, so long as it apprises defendant of the nature of plaintiff’s demand. In this case, since Defendants chose to attack the default judgment by a motion to set aside the judgment under Code of Civil Procedure Section 473(d), Defendants must demonstrate that the Complaint did not apprise Defendant Two of the nature of Plaintiff One’s demand. To the contrary, Plaintiff One’s Complaint apprised Defendant Two of the nature of its demand to enforce the commission agreement that Defendant Two signed on behalf of Defendant One and that Defendant Two was being sued as an alter ego of Defendant One. Under Appellate Court’s decision in Vasey v. California Dance Co. (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 742, in a direct appeal, appellate court reversed a default judgment against individual defendants because the Complaint did not state a cause of action against them where the Complaint did not plead evidence relating to alter ego liability. In this case, had Defendants directly appealed from the default judgment, rather than filed a motion to set aside the judgment based on Code of Civil Procedure Section 473(d), they could have relied on the reasoning of Vasey to attack the Complaint for failure to state a cause of action. The Appellate Court further stated that it is not bound by and disagrees with the decision in Grappo v. McMills (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 996, [affirming an order setting aside a default judgment and suggesting judgment was void for failure to state a claim] and, thus, Grappo does not apply. Accordingly, this Court affirmed the order denying the motion to set aside the default and default judgment.