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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Family Law


I am getting divorced. Do I need an attorney?

It ordinarily is a good idea to consult with a lawyer about major life events or changes, such as a divorce. S/he will protect your rights, as well as the rights of your children.  The family law laws are complex.  An attorney keeps current with the laws in your state concerning marriage, divorce, marital property, child custody and visitation, and family support. An attorney will protect your interests and make efforts to maximize the changes of success of your case.

How much will I need to pay for legal services?

The amount you will pay for legal services depends on many factors, such as the complexity of your case,  whether the case settles or goes to trial, the number of court appearances and time spent in court and preparation, how responsive and disciplined you will be working with the attorney and how cooperative the other party will be in complying with multiple legal requirements.  The attorney fee arrangement with this office is specified in a written contract.  The amount is not a flat fee.  The initial retainer is deposited into a trust account, and the attorney will charge against that amount at her hourly rate for her time spent on your case.  If the case is concludes, and there are funds remaining in the trust account,  the unused funds will be refunded to you.  If the funds in the retainer are exhausted, additional funds will be necessary.  The details concerning attorney’s fees are discussed at your initial consultation.

To effectively use attorney’s time, it is important that you focus on the legal matters, not utilize your attorney as a therapist, listen carefully and follow the directions.  It helps to read all communications from the attorney carefully and save them for future references.

What are the legal grounds for obtaining a divorce?

California is a no-fault state where common bases for  divorce is “irreconcilable differences”.

How do courts determine who gets custody of children in a divorce?

If the parents cannot agree on custody of their child, as a general rule, the courts decide custody based on “the best interests of the child.”   A different standard may apply to modification of the existing orders.

What is joint custody?

Joint custody has two parts: joint legal custody and joint physical custody. A joint custody order can have one or both parts.

Joint legal custody refers to both parents sharing the major decisions affecting the child, which can include school, health care and religious training. Other considerations under these types of custody agreements can include: extracurricular activities, summer camp, age for dating or getting a job, and methods of discipline.

Joint physical custody refers to the time spent with each parent. The amount of time is flexible, and can range from a moderate period of time for one parent, such as every other weekend, to a child dividing the time equally between the two parents’ homes. In situations where the time spent with both parents will be divided equally, it helps if the parents live close to one another.

How is child support determined in a divorce or child support case?

In California, child support is based on a guideline.  The parents may, in some situations, depart from the guideline and agree on a different amount, above or below the guideline, or no support at all.   The guideline takes into consideration a number of factors including the income of both parents, percentage of parenting time, tax filing status, etc.    If a parent is  unemployed, the Court may, under certain circumstances, impute income to that parent for support calculation purposes.   As a part of the mandatory child support, the parents generally are ordered to split 50/50 uninsured medical, dental and optical expenses of the child and the cost of the day care necessary for a parent to attend work or training.


Do grandparents have visitation rights to their children?

In California, by statute, the grandparents may petition to the Court requesting grandparent visitation.  Certain procedural guidelines must be met.  As a part of their case, the grandparents must prove that continuing contact of the child with them will be in the child’s best interest



Yana Berrier

Attorney and Counselor at Law

1510 Poole Blvd, Suite 103 Yuba City, CA 95993

(530) 674-2258