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Family Law Overview

California Family Law Lawyer

The Law Office of Patricia M. McKinnie represents clients in divorce and family law matters. For more information about our practice areas, please follow the links below.


Sometimes you and your spouse will have talked through the issues in your divorce and are pretty much in agreement about what you want to do. You will still need to meet with a lawyer to understand your rights and obligations. At The Law Office of Patricia M. McKinnie in San Jose, California, we offer a free initial consultation of thirty minutes to provide you with an overview of the divorce process.

Child Custody and Visitation

There are two kinds of child custody in California. Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding medical care, school, religion and other important issues. Physical custody is the time the child spends with each parent on a regular basis. who the child lives with. In most cases, parents agree to share both legal and physical custody. There may be certain factors and concerns that result in one parent having sole custody.

Child Support

Many people who are going through a divorce feel resentment about paying child support. However, it's important to remember that you aren't divorcing your children. At The Law Office of Patricia M. McKinnie in San Jose, our lawyers will explain California's child support guidelines and show you how payments are calculated.

Spousal Support

In California, spousal support or alimony is usually based on the length of the marriage and the incomes of the parties. The courts will also consider such factors as the education, training, and experience of the party receiving alimony, the difference in income between the two parties, whether one party stayed home to care for children, and the income and standard of living during the marriage.

Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders

Many people are reluctant to report incidents of domestic violence, knowing that once police are called to their home, their spouse or partner will likely face charges. Our lawyers offer a free initial consultation to help you understand the court process and the court protections that are available to you. We also counsel people who have been accused of domestic violence.

Property Division

In California, property accumulated during your marriage is community property and must be divided. Any property you owned prior to your marriage, or received during your marriage as a gift or inheritance, is separate property and is yours to keep. Some assets may contain a mix of separate and community property. For example, one party may supply a down payment on a house using separate property. While the house may have a community property interest, the party who supplied the down payment would usually receive that separate property back before and after the community property is divided. Debts and obligations incurred during the marriage also must be considered and fairly allocated.

Cohabitation and Palimony (Marvin Actions) (Co-habitation)

While common law marriage is not recognized in California, unmarried parties who have a relationship over a period of time do have property rights. Unmarried parties seek their property rights and spousal support (called palimony) through a civil court action rather than in family court. However, if there are children of the relationship, custody, visitation, and support issues will be in family court. These actions are sometimes called Marvin claims, based on the case involving the late actor Lee Marvin and his long-time cohabitant.

Domestic Partnership

In California, same-gender partners who reside together and have registered as domestic partners have community property rights similar to married couples upon the termination of their partnership. If you have not registered as domestic partners, then you do not have any community property rights. However, you may have contract rights relating to property, assets, and obligations. If you have children, custody, visitation, and support will be in family court.

Paternity Action

In California, hospitals will ask the mother of the newborn, the name of the father. The mother, in some cases, can name anyone she wishes, or, if the parties are unmarried, the father may be asked to sign a Declaration of Paternity--an admission that they are the father of the child. Even so, the father should still seek to legally establish paternity, by filing a Summons and Petition to Establish Paternity, in Family Court. If paternity is disputed, and custody, visitation and support issues are raised, the father must file this action to obtain his rights and obligations to the child.

Free Consultation: San Jose prenuptial agreement lawyer Patricia M. McKinnie offers a free 30-minute initial consultation to discuss your family law matter. Call (408) 297-2922 or complete our family law case evaluation form.

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31 East Julian Street
San Jose, CA 95112

Phone: (408) 297-2922
Fax: (408) 287-1098

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