In February 1971, California became the first state to approve a legal certification program, known as the California Board of Legal Specialization (CBLS). The CBLS estimates that approximately 3% of practicing attorneys in California are certified by CBLS.
The process to become a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) is very scrupulous. The attorney must have five (5) years of experience and demonstrate substantial involvement in the practice of family law. Among other requirements, the attorneys must pass the legal specialist exam, demonstrate substantial involvement in family law, and complete continuing education requirements in the specialty area.
Each CFLS must demonstrate actual experience in each of the following areas of family law:
- Dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or nullity of marriage litigation
- Spousal support
- Division of community property
- Confirmation of separate property
- Taxation issues related to the dissolution of a marriage
- Contempt and/or enforcement proceedings
- Modification of support
- Restraining orders/domestic violence proceedings
- Child support
- Custody of children
- Psychological and counseling aspects regarding the dissolution of a marriage
- Mediation and/or negotiation of family law disputes
A retainer is an estimate of the cost for a firm to start representing you in your Family Law case. The retainer amount depends on the complexity of the case. When you pay your retainer, your money will go into a Trust account. Every time your case is worked on, money will be pulled from your Trust account to pay for the services rendered. As the money in your Trust account goes down, most Family Law Attorneys ask that you replenish your Trust with a minimum amount of money.
The terms “custody” and “visitation” are sometimes used in the same context; however, they have different meanings. Custody is a much broader term and refers to either the legal or physical custody of the child. Visitation on the other hand is a more specific term that refers to the time that the noncustodial parent spends with the child.
In California, a Legal Separation is a situation in which you are still legally married to your spouse, but you are not living together. Divorce on the other hand is a more final situation where you are legally not married to your spouse any longer.
In California, all Divorces are considered “no fault”. This basically means that there have been irreconcilable differences between spouses that have led to the breakdown of a marriage. California Courts do not entertain the reason you are getting a Divorce, nor does it place blame on one spouse over another.
An “uncontested” Divorce is a Divorce in which you and your spouse were able to work together to reach an agreement and resolve all the issues involved with the Divorce. In some cases, the Divorce may start out as a “contested” Divorce one or more issues, but later resolve the issues by working with each other.
Though Mediation and Arbitration are used in Family Law matters to help resolve conflicts, they have different uses. Mediation is a non-binding process that is used by a Mediator to help guide the parties resolve their issues instead of going through a lengthy divorce. Arbitration is a binding process that an Arbitrator uses. This process can be a substitute for trail, as the Arbitrator serves in place of a judge in the case.
If your case has not been started yet, during the first meeting with our attorneys, we ask that you bring the following documents in order for us to complete the required court forms to start the case:
- Current bank statements
- Current credit card statements
- Latest tax returns
- Paycheck stubs
- Any property deeds
- A list of furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances, etc.