At Robinson Sookdeo Law, our approach is always to provide quality level of personal attention, compassion, responsiveness, cost efficiency and integrity.
Negotiation and settlement are almost always preferable to trial. We take a practical approach to resolve legal issues during settlement conferences. However, when cases must be tried, clients can be confident they will receive strong, fearless representation in court.
Family Law issues can be complex and emotionally charged, as a result, it is essential to have a comfortable relationship with an attorney you trust. We at Robinson Sookdeo Law are dedicated to providing services in a compassionate and cost-efficient manner tailored to your needs.
We can assist you with following areas of California family law issues:
Divorce (dissolution of marriage, dissolution of domestic partnerships),
Marital Settlement Agreements and Pre-marital (prenuptial agreements),
Equitable Distribution/Division of Property, Pension Valuations, Retirement Plan Valuations, Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs),
Child Custody and Visitation,
Interstate Custody Disputes under UCCJEA,
Enforcement of Judgments and Orders,
Paternity and Legitimation,
Relocation ("move-away", "LaMusga" and "Burgess") cases,
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
Dissolution of a California Marriage (Divorce)
When you seek out an attorney to handle a sensitive matter like divorce, you should find someone you can trust with some of your most emotional and private matters who will also be mindful of your lifestyle. At Robinson Sookdeo Law, we believe in having integrity while being fearless in our divorce practice, which helps our clients feel confident that their attorney is on their side and looking out for their best interests.
In the event litigation is required, there are often multiple short hearings called Request For Order ("RFO") hearings and each case has the potential of concluding in a trial during which witnesses may be called to testify under oath on the witness stand. Although many of the issues in a litigated divorce are usually resolved by a stipulation or agreement, the ultimate decision maker in a litigated divorce is a Family Law Judge.
For couples facing divorce, the amount of child and spousal support or alimony they will receive or will pay is critical. The amount and duration of spousal support can be a complex matter.
To determine the amount of spousal support, there are many factors to consider. They include, but are not limited to, the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, earning capacity and job histories of both individuals, retirement benefits, tax consequences of an award and any other relevant factors that the court deems relevant and equitable.
California Property Division
At the termination of a marriage the parties must divide property acquired during that marriage. Often this process is simple. On other occasions, however, this process is complex.
In California, most property acquired during the marriage is considered community property, which is evenly divided during a divorce.
Inheritances, gifts received during marriage and property acquired before marriage or after separation are considered separate property. These concepts, while seemingly simple, can often be subject to interpretation and require an attorney who is familiar with the legal intricacies to ensure your property is fairly divided.
Complex Property Litigation
Complicated assets, tracing issues as the source of funds used to acquire the assets, business interests, professional practices, retirement plan benefits, and personal investments are all issues that can arise making the process more difficult.
Robinson Sookdeo Law addresses divorce and property determinations with the utmost care. It is essential to value businesses, pensions, residential and commercial real estate, household furnishings, and jewelry properly. We have relationships with experts in various fields who aid in the valuation process that becomes the focus of many complex property divisions. This is necessary for equitable division of the community’s assets upon finalization of the divorce.
Child Custody, Visitation and Move-Aways
Child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and the division of community property are the three areas of family law that require the most legal expertise to resolve. Of these, child custody and visitation is usually the most costly, time consuming and emotionally draining.
When someone threatens to limit your access to your child, tries to destroy your relationship with your child, or otherwise acts to interfere with your relationship with your child, your natural response is to fight. Choosing how to fight to protect your relationship with your child has a great influence on the outcome. Seeking out competent legal assistance greatly increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome, including an award of primary custody.
If the parents are married, either the mother’s or the father's family law attorney can file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or nullity or file the petition for custody and support of minor children's action. If the parents are unmarried, either the mother’s or the father’s family law lawyer can file an action to establish the parental relationship or file the petition for custody and support of minor children.
An experienced family law lawyer can accomplish this by filing a Request for Order. This process allows for temporary orders to be granted before a trial or judgment. You can also file an Request for Order post judgment.
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA") is a statute that determines jurisdiction in interstate custody disputes. If you live in one state and your spouse lives in another state (regardless of which of you has custody of the minor child), you are all subject to the UCCJEA. Read More (link here)
States are free to adopt the UCCJEA as drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws or make changes. As a result, not all states have adopted the exact same version of the UCCJEA.
The UCCJEA determines, among other things, which state has ongoing, exclusive jurisdiction in child custody proceedings, emergency jurisdiction, the right to due process in determining jurisdiction, investigations and hearings, enforcement of orders, registering orders and judgments, attorneys fees and costs, etc.
Knowing your rights under the UCCJEA before you or the other party initiates a proceeding is critical where the other parent lives in a different state or one parent is planning to move to a different state with or without the minor child.
The formula used in calculating child support is the same in every case and in every court in California. The law allows parents to make agreements that are different from the Child Support Guideline, provided that there are reasonable assurances that the children’s needs will be met. Child Support can always be modified to Guideline.
The California Family Court looks at two factors when calculating Guideline child support: 1) Each parent’s income and 2) Time each parent spends with the child or children (commonly called the ‘J” Factor). Guideline Support does not take into account your budget. Parents generally follow the Guideline, but can also work together to find a different resolution.
Because the formula used to come to the child support amounts is so complicated, the court depends on a computer program called a Dissomaster™ to calculate monthly child support amounts. All of the information input into the program is provided by both parents. However, a skilled family law attorney will negotiate certain items with the other party to ensure you receive the child support each month.
Paternity / Legitimation Matters
A determination of paternity can change the life of a child and their family. At Robinson Sookdeo Law, we represent both mothers and fathers in paternity proceedings.
We understand that every family and every situation is unique. Sometimes a mother makes a motion for paternity and the father agrees. In these cases, there is usually no testing involved, and the court rules the father as the child's biological parent. Other times, the mother moves for paternity and the father disagrees. The judge may order a DNA test to make the ultimate determination.
A determination of paternity may give the legal father new rights and responsibilities under the law. It may give him the right to visitation with the children. It may also lead to his responsibility to pay child support. Do not make the mistake of giving less importance to a paternity suit compared to a divorce or you will live to regret it both financially and emotionally.
You may have religious, insurance, tax or other reasons for wanting a legal separation instead of a dissolution. If you obtain a legal separation, you and your spouse will remain married, but the court can divide the property and issue orders relating to child custody, visitation, child support and spousal support, and, if necessary, a restraining order. A legal separation requires a mutual agreement, which is usually called a separation agreement.
Uncontested or Default Divorce
An uncontested divorce is a case where both spouses reach an uncomplicated resolution to their divorce case. This can mean one of two things. You and your spouse agree on how to handle properly, money, and parenting. In some cases, this means neither party will need to file a response to the court filing. If a party does not file a response, then the Petitioner will receive a “default” judgment.
The advantage of an uncontested divorce is that the parties can avoid litigation; neither party ever appears in court, thus, making costs substantially less.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVRO)
Domestic violence is a serious charge. It is not to be taken lightly. Domestic violence is perhaps the fastest way in the world to lose custody and, in some cases, visitation with your children.
Since domestic violence presents a danger to physical safety, courts lean towards safety when confronted with conflicting testimony as to whether one spouse or the other is guilty of domestic violence.
Emergency hearings help when you fear your child's health and safety are at stake. Temporary Restraining Orders and Permanent Restraining Orders affect child custody and, in fact, can immediately protect them.
Unfortunately, because accusations of domestic violence lead to orders awarding primary or sole custody to the "victim" spouse, some spouses falsely accuse the other spouse of domestic violence. This produces short-term gains for the accuser, but over time it costs the parties a lot of money to prove the accusations are false, plus it makes the spouse who has been falsely accused less likely to settle and this, in turn, increases the cost of litigation. In addition, false accusations always harm the children over time.
Generally, mediation works best in three scenarios:
- Where the parties are parting civilly and they agree in good faith to mediate all issues;
- Where the parties are high profile celebrities for whom the specter of making the world privy to their private financial and personal affairs outweighs any animosity they may have toward one another; and
- Where there are no minor children.
Mediation is an extra-judicial process that requires the parties to act in absolute good faith and with total cooperation toward the common goal of achieving complete resolution on all issues.
Mediation is not without its risks. For example, a mediator might defer to certain wishes of the parties that are not in accord with the law, and in so doing draft a judgment or order that can be successfully challenged at a later date. To avoid this problem, the better practice is for the mediator to require both parties to submit the mediated settlement to their respective attorneys for approval.
Limited Legal Services
Robinson Sookdeo Law is available to assist you on a limited basis. You retain control over your case and are responsible for all decisions. The attorney does not sign papers on your behalf. The attorney does not become your attorney of record with the court. You simply choose to hire an attorney for specific services. You choose from a menu of services that could include:
- Review of agreements prepared by the other party and/or their attorney;
- Advice about alternative means of resolving the dispute, such as mediation or arbitration;
- Guidance and procedural information for filing and serving documents;
- Review of pleadings and other documents you have prepared;
- Suggest documents for you to prepare;
- Drafting of pleadings, motions, or preparation of other documents;
- Legal research and analysis;
- Discovery, including, interrogatories, depositions, and requests for document production;
- Planning for negotiations;
- Planning for court appearances; or
- Standby telephone assistance during negotiations or settlement conferences.
Clients can sometimes handle the more routine, simple matters with the guidance of an attorney’s limited services. However, once the limited services have been performed, if you fear that you cannot adequately represent yourself, you can later retain the lawyer to represent you in all aspects of the case. The lawyer would then substitute in and become the attorney of record.
To set up your consultation, contact Robinson Sookdeo Law