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Family Law

Legal separation occurs when a married couple formalizes a de facto separation while remaining legally married. Unlike divorce, a legal separation does not put an end to the marriage. During a legal separation, a court order outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse while they are living apart.

Child custody and visitation pertains to the care for a child on a day-to-day basis and the making of major decisions about the child, along with visitation rights. In primary custody arrangements, one parent cares for the child most of the time and makes major decisions concerning the child. The other parent usually has a right of visitation. In joint custody arrangements, both parents share in making major decisions and have the right to spend substantial amounts of time with the child.

Child support and spousal support, commonly known as alimony, are some of the few debts which cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, and are nearly impossible to adjust without a formal court order. You can try to negotiate with your spouse if you are in a financial bind. Otherwise, you must go to court to request a modification. Until the court determines that a modification is appropriate, you are responsible for the monthly payments as ordered.

Paternity matters arise when the parents of a child are not married. Paternity is the legal and social acknowledgment of the paternal relationship between a father and his child. When paternity becomes an issue, the mother, father, child, or state can ask the court for a determination of paternity.

Issues facing unmarried parents, for the most part, are the same as those facing divorced parents. Visitation, collecting child support, joint custody of children, and power struggles are all issues that present challenges. In addition, unmarried parents may confront the need to establish paternity. The Family Court is not the proper forum to address outstanding issues between non-married partners, such as division of property and debt, except in very limited circumstances.

Non-parent custody and visitation is not easy to obtain and the rights of non-parents, such as grandparents and other family memebers, are limited. The process for asserting non-parent custody is quite complex. To determine whether to grant non-parent physical custody, the court determines what is in the best interest of the child. To do that, the court must conduct a thorough analysis of the facts of your unique situation.

Changes in child custody or child visitation rights may be sought where the custodial spouse develops physical, mental, or behavioral impairments which affect the ability to be a responsible parent. Changes in child support can be negotiated with the other party. Failing that, you must go through the Family Court for assistance.

Mediation, or alternative dispute resolution, is a method of resolving disputes between two or more parties. Typically, a mediator assists the parties to negotiate a settlement. He or she does not decide who is right or wrong, or issue a decision. Instead, the mediator helps the parties work out their own solutions to problems.

Collaborative divorce is a method of law in which the lawyers for both parties agree to assist their clients to resolve conflicts by employing cooperative rather than adversarial techniques and litigation. All the people involved are committed to achieving a negotiated outcome. Moreover, all parties agree not to litigate until negotiations break down.

Please contact the San Diego law firm of Steven M. Bishop to speak with a lawyer about your case. Call toll free at 619-299-9780, or fill out our online contact form via email.

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