Divorce, Child Custody & Adoptions
At Favaro, Lavezzo, Gill, Caretti & Heppell, PC, our attorneys help individuals and families throughout the North Bay Area in divorce, child custody, conservatorships, and other family law matters.
Divorce – Property Division, Custody and Support
California is a community property state, and all assets and liabilities acquired by either spouse during marriage are presumed to be community property (with certain significant exceptions, such as gifts or bequests made to one spouse alone). Each spouse owns a one-half interest in each community asset. Since not all assets can be divided equally, it is up to the court to make the division as best it can. The characterization of each asset as community property or separate property, and its proper valuation, are therefore essential to achieving a property settlement that does not unfairly disadvantage one of the parties to a divorce.
Assets posing especially difficult questions as to property division include benefits and pension plans. Without a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), a benefit plan administrator is prohibited from releasing funds to anyone except for the plan participant.
Whether spousal support or child support will be ordered, for how long and in what amounts, is determined by the court based on a number of factors. Effective advocacy is critical to influencing the judge and obtaining a favorable outcome that meets the needs of all members of the family as well as the client’s goals and interests. Similarly, child custody can be granted solely to one parent or shared jointly, with one parent obtaining primary custody and the non-custodial parent receiving visitation rights. Having a strong and effective advocate on your side is vital to making sure your needs are met in this important area.
Paternity and Adoptions
These important areas of family law may arise on their own at any time, although they often arise during or after a divorce proceeding. Given the fact that only a legal father has the legal right to custody and visitation and the responsibility to pay child support, issues of paternity that have been unresolved during marriage often must be addressed in dissolution proceedings. When a spouse remarries, the concept of stepparent adoption often arises, although adoption by one person can result in the termination of parental rights in another. These proceedings can be complex and involve multiple parties in their resolution.
Competent, Compassionate Representation
We help parties craft marital settlement agreements through which they collaboratively decide on some of the major issues in a divorce, such as property division and spousal support. Such agreements need not be prepared only in the midst of a divorce. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can set out in advance how these issues will be handled, providing comfort and security to spouses at the outset of their marriage.
A great deal of our family law practice involves mediation and collaborative law, alternative approaches to dispute resolution, which can reduce the conflict and tension which can tear families apart in a divorce. Our attorney-mediators understand that family relationships continue long after the divorce has ended, and conducting a divorce with dignity and mutual respect is preferable to lengthy, bitter, and costly court battles whenever possible. Also, support orders that are decided collaboratively are more likely to meet the needs of both parties and to be voluntarily followed without the need for additional court enforcement.
For caring, compassionate and competent representation in a divorce or other family law matter in and around Napa, Vallejo, and Solano County, contact Favaro, Lavezzo, Gill, Caretti & Heppell, PC.