Many divorces can be resolved without having an attorney represent you in court, especially when the parties can resolve matters amicably (that said, online kits are generally just forms and info you can get elsewhere for free). But speaking with an attorney can help you understand your rights, obligations, and options to determine whether full legal representation is advisable.
Sadly, divorces occur all the time where one partner does not want it. And speaking to an attorney about what your future could look like financially and relationally post-divorce absolutely does not mean you need to pursue a divorce. If divorce does seem a likely possibility in the near future, making the effort to better understand how the law will affect you and your family is important.
No, I’m happy to provide consultation by the hour for as long as you need, without a formal representation of you. Should you decide to have me represent you as the attorney of record in your action, then a retainer agreement would be required.
If you and the other parent or ex-spouse are willing to agree to make a change to an existing spousal support, child support, or custody/visitation order, that is an excellent situation and can avoid excess cost or strife. But without a judge signing off on it, the agreement will not be enforceable and you may risk being found to have violated the previous order.
Again, a judge must sign off on the change, but when the parties can reach an agreement, a judge will generally be happy to sign off on it with little to no hassle (assuming the agreement is in the best interests of the children). A knowledgeable, strategic attorney can work to obtain that agreement with the other spouse on your behalf and avoid excess litigation costs.
Every situation is different, but common types of situations that could constitute a material change of circumstances warranting a modification include a significant increase or decrease in income for the receiving or the paying party, or an increased or decreased need for support by the receiving party.
Parents are generally free to reach a custody and/or visitation arrangement on their own to submit for the court’s approval, but, when there is a dispute, courts will determine custody and schedule based on the best interests of the child, which will involve examining a variety of factors, explained further in depth here.
Despite what you may have heard, California law does not make a preference for the mother, and this is true regardless of whether the parents were ever married. Instead, California courts want the child to have an ongoing, consistent relationship with both parents, unless there is some compelling reason that doing so would not be in the child’s best interests.
Many parents avoid paying their fair share of child support by handing over payments to the other, in hopes it will prevent the other parent from seeking child support. The problem with this is that these payments are often vastly lower than what would be ordered, and the only way to require a parent to support a child is through obtaining a court order.