City of Orange Family Law Attorney
Family law is a specialized area of civil law that pertains to legal matters among family members. Divorce cases, adoptions, custody determinations, and paternity disputes are just a few examples of the cases that unfold in the family court system. Attorney Kevin L. Qualls can provide the comprehensive and compassionate legal representation you need when facing any family law matter.
Compassionate and Responsive Orange, CA, Family Law Representation
Many family law cases involve complex emotional issues and many personal matters that people find difficult to discuss with others. Rest assured that when you choose the Law Office of Kevin L. Qualls to represent you in your family law case, we will handle your legal proceedings with the highest level of care and consideration. We understand that any family law matter has the potential to impact your life and your relationships with your family members for many years, and our goal is to help you navigate your family law case with confidence and understanding.
How Much Do Orange County Family Law Attorneys Cost?
It’s natural to have concerns about the potential cost of your legal fees when you need to hire an attorney. Unfortunately, many Americans assume that legal representation is prohibitively expensive, and this causes many of them to believe they cannot afford legal counsel when they need it most. The Law Office of Kevin L. Qualls maintains fair and reasonable billing practices, and we go over all our billing details with clients before they sign any contracts agreeing to our legal services. This way, we ensure clients are fully informed of our billing policy and that there are no surprises later as cases unfold.
Suppose you believe that you can handle self-representation in a family law matter. In that case, it’s vital to understand what your case is likely to entail and how difficult it can be to manage self-representation. Whatever you think you might save by forgoing professional legal counsel is likely much less than you stand to lose when you try handling your claim on your own, especially in a divorce or other family law matter that could impact your life for years to come.
What Are the Responsibilities of Family Lawyers?
When you hire a City of Orange family law lawyer to represent you, they can provide several valuable legal services throughout your case proceedings. First, they will help you understand your procedural obligations with the Orange, CA, family court system, such as filing the necessary paperwork and appearing for all required court hearings. No matter what family law matter you face, your case will likely require extensive discovery and document collection. Your attorney will help you secure whatever records and documentation you may need for your case to unfold appropriately. For example, if you are divorcing, you will need to provide a complete and accurate financial disclosure statement that shows the full extent of all the assets and property you control.
Some family law matters can be resolved through private settlement. For example, many California couples choose divorce mediation instead of litigation to streamline the divorce process and save time and money. If a private settlement is an option for your family law case, your City of Orange family lawyer will guide you through each phase of settlement and help make sure you reach a suitable agreement. In addition, if your case must proceed to trial, you can rely on your Orange family law attorney to represent you in the courtroom and prepare you for each phase of the trial.
The most commonly filed family law cases in Orange, CA, are divorces. When a couple decides to end their marriage, this does not simply end their marriage contract. They must also determine ownership of their marital property under California’s community property law and settle custody and support for their children. Navigating a divorce is inherently an emotionally stressful issue. Even if you and your spouse have made a mutual decision to end your marriage, the finality of your divorce can be emotionally challenging in several ways. The Law Office of Kevin L. Qualls will provide compassionate and responsive legal counsel through each stage of your divorce, assisting you in addressing every aspect of your unique divorce case:
- When it comes to property division, we will help you gather whatever records you require to prove separate ownership rights over anything you own that is not subject to division under California’s community property statute. In addition, if you believe your spouse has been untruthful in any way in their financial disclosure, we can help you determine the best approach to this situation and ensure a fair division of marital property.
- If you and your spouse have children together, determining custody rights for your children is likely to be the most challenging aspect of the entire divorce process. We will help you establish your parental rights and guide you through custody proceedings. It’s important to understand that the City of Orange family court must ensure your child custody determination suits the court’s interpretation of your child’s best interests, so compromise is often necessary in these situations.
- You or your spouse may expect to receive alimony from your divorce agreement. For example, when one spouse earns more income than the other, the higher-earning spouse may need to pay alimony to the lower-earning spouse following their divorce. Whether you expect to pay or receive alimony, we will ensure your spousal support agreement is reasonable and aligns with state law.
- If you and your spouse have a prenuptial contract and decide to divorce, your contract could include postnuptial provisions that serve as a blueprint for your divorce settlement. An experienced Orange family attorney can help you review your prenuptial contract to ensure it is still legally enforceable and assist you in leveraging it for a more streamlined divorce process.
These are just a few of the possible issues that can come into play in an Orange, CA, divorce case. Whatever your case entails, you can rely on the Law Office of Kevin L. Qualls to guide you through your proceedings effectively. We’ll also help you take full advantage of divorce mediation if both you and your spouse are open to negotiation, and this may save you a great deal of time and expense in handling your divorce.
Child Custody Determinations in Orange, CA
Both married and unmarried parents may eventually face child custody disputes in Orange, CA. When married parents divorce, determining custody and child support for their children is part of a larger divorce case. However, if unmarried parents decide to live together no longer and choose to raise their children as separate parents, they must have a formal child custody order in place.
While it’s possible for parents to negotiate their preferred custody terms privately, these agreements have no legal standing unless a City of Orange, CA, family court judge reviews and approves their proposed terms. The family court has a legal obligation to ensure that any child custody determination suits the best interests of the children it will affect. When a judge determines child custody, they will consider multiple factors, including:
- Each parent’s income.
- Each parent’s work schedule and their availability to provide child care.
- Each parent’s living situation.
- The proximity of each parent’s home address to their child’s school, medical care facilities, and extended family members.
- The child’s unique needs, such as disabilities and medical conditions.
- The child’s preferences, if they are old enough to make a compelling statement on their own behalf.
- Each parent’s criminal history, especially if either parent has a record of domestic violence, child abuse, or criminal conviction of any kind.
The judge must settle child custody in a manner that suits the child’s best interests, meaning their custody arrangement must ensure a healthy and nurturing home environment, access to education and medical care, and a safe place to live. Parents can end up with joint custody and take turns spending time with their children, or one parent may assume sole legal custody while the other parent pays child support.
Child Support Determination
California law upholds that both of a child’s parents have a financial duty to handle their child’s basic needs and living expenses. When the court determines child custody, the judge overseeing the matter must also determine child support based on each parent’s custody rights and financial situation. When one parent assumes sole custody of their children, the other parent will likely owe child support payments to the custodial parent. If both parents share custody, the higher-earning parent will likely owe child support to the lower-earning parent.
It’s important to remember that child support agreements often change over time. For example, a paying parent may need to adjust their support payments if they lose their job or develop a disability that prevents them from meeting their financial obligations. Likewise, a receiving parent may need to petition for greater support if their child’s needs change.
Paternity Legal Disputes
Paternity is a crucial factor in many family law cases. For example, when a mother needs to hold her child’s biological father accountable for child support, she may need to file a petition for a court-ordered paternity test to legally establish paternity. Conversely, a biological father may demand a paternity test to assert his parental rights and fight for custody of his child. It is also possible for an alleged father to file a petition for a paternity test if he has cause to believe his alleged child is not his biological offspring.
Paternity cases can be emotionally challenging, but they are relatively straightforward. Once a petition for a paternity test has been filed, the court will review the petition and deliver a ruling, likely requiring the mother of the child in question to participate in a DNA test to compare her child’s DNA to that of the alleged father. Once the paternity test result is available, the parents can proceed with their related legal matters.
Paternity tests may also be necessary for paternity fraud cases. For example, if a child’s biological mother knowingly and intentionally causes her spouse or partner to believe that her child is his biological offspring, he would be financially responsible for the child if he assumes this responsibility. If he were to later file a petition for a paternity test and discover the child is not his biological offspring and the child’s mother lied, he would have grounds for a paternity fraud claim. While California family courts do not typically hold the mother responsible for the repayment of previously paid child support, the claimant could file a civil claim against the child’s actual biological father. However, the claimant could potentially have a case against the mother for intentional infliction of emotional distress and other damages.
Post-Judgment Family Court Order Modification
Family law provides an accessible alternative to the typical appeal process required for changing a civil court order. However, as family dynamics can change unexpectedly, and life events can quickly impact one’s ability to abide by the terms of a family court order; the post-judgment modification process exists to provide a streamlined method of modifying a family court order. A few examples of situations that may demand post-judgment modification include:
- Child support modification. Suppose you pay child support to your child’s other parent and lose your job due to forces beyond your control. In that case, you could file a petition for modification of your child support order to reflect your new financial circumstances.
- Alimony or spousal support modification. Suppose you pay alimony to an ex-spouse and believe that recent life events have impacted your ability to pay alimony or your ex’s eligibility to receive it. In that case, you could file a petition for modification of your alimony terms.
- Child custody modification. If you need to change the terms of your custody agreement in any way, you need to file a petition for modification explaining the desired change and proof that the change would better suit your child’s best interests.
These are just a few examples of possible grounds for modification in Orange, CA, family court. The process of securing your desired change is relatively simple. First, you must submit your petition to the Orange family court detailing your requested change and explaining why the change is necessary. The court will review this petition, and if a judge determines that it is a reasonable request, a hearing is set. You and the other parties involved in the order will have the opportunity to speak on the issue. If the judge approves your petition, the desired change can take effect immediately.
Contempt of Court
Unfortunately, not all parties accountable to family court orders abide by the terms of these orders. Whenever a parent fails to pay child support as required, violates their child custody terms, or otherwise fails to uphold their responsibilities under a family court order, the other parent has the right to file contempt proceedings against them. Contempt of court is a serious matter, and the subject of contempt proceedings could face significant legal penalties for failure to address the situation appropriately. For example, if a parent is charged with contempt of court for refusal to pay child support, the court could respond by seizing assets from the nonpaying parent or garnishing their wages.
If you have experienced abuse from a spouse or household member, it’s vital to take legal action as swiftly as possible before it escalates or happens again. A City of Orange family law lawyer can help you secure a protective order that will prevent your abuser from coming near you or harming you or your family again, and it’s possible to secure this protective order relatively quickly when you have an experienced attorney assisting you.
Domestic violence can also come into play in divorce and child custody cases. If your spouse or co-parent presents a clear existential threat to you or your children, a protective order can help you keep yourself and your children safe. The court must also consider the other party’s behavior in making firm decisions regarding custody and visitation. If your child’s other parent has been abusive in the past, it is unlikely the court would be willing to grant them custody rights beyond supervised visitation.
What to Expect From Your City of Orange Family Lawyer
Family law can involve deeply personal and emotionally stressful situations. Therefore, it’s vital to have the legal representation you need in your family law matter from an attorney who has solid professional experience handling cases similar to yours. The Law Office of Kevin L. Qualls can provide the legal representation you need, keeping you informed about the latest updates with your case and advising you about the best approach to each phase of your family law matter.
It’s natural to feel uncertain about your legal options when facing a divorce, child custody determination, or other family law matter. Our goal is to help you understand your rights and the legal proceedings you face so you can approach the situation more confidently. If you are ready to discuss legal counsel with an experienced Orange family law attorney, contact the Law Office of Kevin L. Qualls today and schedule your consultation with our team.