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Frequently Asked Questions

California Family Law


This family law FAQ’s page is here to answer some of your most common questions regarding on California family law. We hope this helps you answer your questions. Please remember that these question and answers are for educational purposes.

Child Custody

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    How to protect the parent child relationship in a divorce or a custody dispute?

    Your child is not a tool

    Child custody disputes are often the most complex cases in family court. The emotions run high. A question that often comes up is to how to make sure the child continues to have a good relationship with both parents. Parents often use the child as a tool to pass on messages to the other party. We do not recommend using the child or children in such a manner. If necessary, a court order can be obtained so that using the child in such a manner becomes a violation of a court order.

    No negative comment

    To protect the parent child relationship a party can ask the court to order that each parent not speak negatively of the other parent to or in front of the child. Once such an order is given, any negative comment will be a violation of a court order and may subject the violator to severe penalties.

    Talk to a lawyer

    If you feel you need assistance of a family law attorney, please feel free to give contact us for a free consultation. We may be able to assist you with obtaining a appropriate court order or even explore other options.

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    Can my child decide which parent he or she wants to reside with?

    In California, the law states that the judge can give weight to the child’s preference for residence once the child is 14 years of age. However, this does not necessarily mean that a child who is under 14 cannot express such preference or that his or her preference will not be considered. There are a variety of factors such as age, maturity the child’s reasoning for his or her preference. If are in a custody dispute or want to modify a custody order based on child’s desire, you can call us for a free consultation. We can help you determine the best way to move forward and do that which is in the best interest of your child.

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    Do grandparents have visitation or custody rights in California?

    Parent is deceased

    In California, a grandparent can be granted reasonable visitation if either parent of the child is deceased, and visitation is found to be in the best interest of the child. Visitation to grandparents under this rule will not be granted to a grandparent if the child has been adopted unless the child has been adopted by another grandparent or a stepparent.

    Family law proceeding

    Another way a grandparent can get visitation rights is when there is a family law proceeding in court and that child custody is at issue. If so, the judge may grant visitation rights to a grandparent if doing so is in the best interest of the child.



Child Support

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    Do I have to pay child support if I am being kept away from my child?

    If there is a valid court order requiring you to pay child support, then the failure of the other party to provide visitation or custody in accordance with another court order does not terminate your obligation to pay child support. If you are being kept away from your child talk to a family law attorney.



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    How is child support calculated in California?

    Courts and lawyers use a calculator to come up with a guideline child support amount. The most important factors in calculating the child support amount are: (1) disposable income of each parent, (2) percentage of physical custody allocated to each parent and (3) the number of children. For example, a parent with 20% custody and a high amount of disposable income may be required to pay a significant amount in child support.

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    What is the purpose of guideline child support?

    Guideline child support is designed to determine the minimum amount of child support the supporting party must pay. Additionally, its intent is to create uniformity and fairness across cases. However, the judge has discretion to deviate from the guideline child support amount should such deviation be warranted.

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    How to get child support?

    To get child support, you may need to go to court or contact the child support agency. If you need help getting a child support order you can also call us at Sabeti Law & Associates. We can assist you in establishment, modification or enforcement of child support.

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    How much do I have to pay in child support?

    How much you will end up paying in child support will likely be based on the custodial time you have with your child, your net disposal income and how many other children you have. If you have questions about your child support obligations talk to a family law attorney or call us for a free consultation.

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    How frequently should child support be paid?

    In California, child support is paid monthly. However, the judge has discretion to change the frequency.

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    Do both parents pay child support?

    Yes ! The amount of the custody time you have plays a important role in determining whether you will be paying child support. For the most part, the custodial parent (parent who the child resides with) is deemed to be paying support by the mere fact that the child resides with that parent.

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    How to modify child support?

    Generally, for a family court judge to modify the child support amount the judge must consider the following two factors:

    Increase/decrease in the need for support

    Increase/decrease in ability to pay child support


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    Can I terminate wage garnishment for child support since my child has turned 18?
    Generally, in California, your obligation to pay child support ends when your child turns 18 and graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever comes first. If this has happened and your wages are being garnished (taken out of your paycheck), then you can complete the Ex Parte Application to Issue, Modify or Terminate an Earning Assignment Order (Form FL-430). For the termination request to be approved you will likely need to be caught up with all your child support obligation. 

    Talk to a lawyer

    If you need assistance in ending your wage garnishment for child support, feel free to call us at Sabeti Law & Associates.

Spousal Support

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    What is a temporary spousal support?

    Once the petition for dissolution is filed, either party can ask the court to order temporary spousal support until the divorce is finalized. This is a temporary order. Once the divorce is finalized the court may or may not order spousal support.



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    What is long-term spousal support?

    Temporary spousal support is support that is intended to end when the dissolution/divorce is finalized. At that point, the court may order a more permanent or long-term spousal support. How long a spousal support may last is based on the following factors:

    Length of marriage 

    The longer the parties have been married the longer the length or amount of spousal support can be. In some cases, spousal support could be for life or until the supported spouse remarries.

    Age and health of spouses

    The ability of the spouse to work can determine both the length and the amount of spousal support.

    Earning capacity

    The ability of a spouse to work and earn income along with the actual income he or she earns is a factor the court can consider in determining how much and how long spousal support should be awarded.

    Balance of hardships

    Along with the standard of living, the court can consider other factors it deems relevant in determining whether to award spousal support.

    Gavon Warning

    Generally, the spouse who is receiving spousal support is warned that if they at any time can work and become self-sufficient, they should do so. Thus, the spouse receiving support must work to eventually become self-sufficient. 


Parentage or Paternity

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    What is a paternity or parentage case?
    Unmarried individuals who have a child must establish paternity. Generally, the person who gave birth to the child need not establish paternity since the law presumes the birth mother is a parent. However, in most cases the parent who did not give birth must establish paternity. Paternity is established when the court orders and recognizes a person as the parent of the child.