Nicole M. Stednitz, the owner of Torrance Family Law, APC, provides personal, professional, intelligent, and cost-effective legal service to clients experiencing some of the most common and stressful family law matters that clients may go through, such as:
Going through a divorce is a legal, financial, and emotional process, all at once.
Experienced in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and a member of “A Better Divorce” Collaborative divorce group, Nicole guides her clients through the proceedings from beginning to end. Our priority is to make the process manageable and efficient and possibly get the matter resolved without going through an expensive, time-consuming court trial.
We counsel our clients on all issues regarding divorce, including child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, paternity, and division property. Whether it’s a simple divorce or a complicated one, we are here for you.
In some cases, a legal separation may be a better solution than divorce. A legal separation is an official court-ordered agreement in which the couple lives separately and have agreements about support and property. Legal separation allows you to set up financial boundaries, establish child custody and support orders while still remaining married by law.
Child Custody and Visitation
One challenging aspect of some family law cases involves establishing child custody and visitation agreements, otherwise called a “Parenting Plan”.
There are two types of child custody: legal and physical custody.
Physical custody relates to which parent is responsible for caregiving on a given day or time (i.e. custody schedule)
Legal custody relates to who is authorized to make legal decisions on behalf of the child, regardless of the physical custody schedule.
California requires that both parents financially support their children. The amount of child support is affected by the amount of time each parent spends with the child and the income of both parents, among other factors.
There are various child support add-ons that should be considered (childcare expenses, tutoring, etc.) in addition to the base support amount.
Spousal support may be appropriate when there is a disparity in each spouse’s income. Spousal support is usually ordered on a temporary basis, followed by a subsequent final order. There are general guidelines for calculating spousal support, but many factors affect the amount, such as tax filing status, tax deductions, child support, etc.
Paternity or Parentage Cases
In cases where the parents have children but were never married, these “paternity” or “parentage” cases involve the same legal issues as divorce, except for property division. In all cases involving minor children, most families benefit from having a regular custody schedule, plus holiday and vacation schedules, as well as agreement on travel logistics (obtaining passport, sharing itineraries, etc.).
Community Property Division
As California is a community property state, in general, any assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage are considered community property. Although there are exceptions to this presumptive rule, it is critical to properly value assets before negotiating a proposal to efficiently divide all assets and debts. There are specific rules for dividing some types of assets and debts, such as real property, pensions, 401Ks, stocks, etc.
The family courts also hear domestic violence restraining orders when there is an allegation of abuse. The laws governing restraining orders are nuanced and could affect child custody, support, and property issues.
Wills, Living Trusts, and Estate Planning
A living trust package provides peace of mind that your property and family are protected upon one’s passing. A living trust package should include: a Living Trust, Pourover Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, HIPPA, and Certification.