Family Law

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At Sperling & Associates, Richard Sperling offers effective legal services for clients with family issues in a careful and cost-effective manner. These services reflect the personal preferences and goals of the client. 


Richard began his practice as a litigator, and as a business and real estate attorney. This experience, and his work as a law school professor teaching negotiation and Mediation, all differentiate him from other family law attorneys. His services include divorce, legal separations, support collection, and Premarital and Postmarital Agreements. Promises to pay support between non-married people who live together are enforceable in California under the Marvin case, and Richard's practice includes the enforcement and collection of support.


The divorce process can be difficult. It is important to work with an attorney you can communicate with and trust, so that your needs and goals are valued. Richard's approach is a careful, goal-oriented approach. Phone calls are returned, agreements regarding fees and costs are in writing, and your interests and preferences are kept in mind as your case moves forward to agreement and resolution.  


The first step in a divorce is to meet with an attorney and discuss your legal options. To file for divorce, one of the parties must be a resident of California for the preceding 6 months, and that person must have lived in the county of filing for the preceding last 3 months. After filing, the divorce process takes at least 6 months from the initial filing, due to a mandatory waiting period required by California law.  During the 6 month period, if temporary agreements cannot be arranged for custody, visitation, support, attorney's fees, and the use of particular assets and payment of specified debts and monthly expenses; a court hearing may be necessary to establish rights and obligations during the waiting period. 


When a divorce case is filed, documents are filed with the court and copies are provided to the Respondent. Restraining orders automatically issue which protect each party. Children must not be taken away from either party. Community property cannot be sold or given away. Insurance policies may not be canceled or modified. Trust and Wills may not be revised. Additional restraining orders are available. After filing, each spouse must disclose all assets and debts to the other spouse in writing on special forms.  When settlement is reached, an agreement is signed and presented to the Judge. If a settlement cannot be reached, the court will set a hearing to resolve the case.


In some cases, a marriage may be voided. An annulment is an option if one of the parties was under 18 years of age at the time of marriage, one of the people married under force or fraud, or either person was already married. In some cases, parties choose to enter into a "legal separation" which is a court order which divides assets and debts, imposes support obligations, resolves custody, and addresses every issue; except the marriage remains intact, so that neither party is divorced, and neither party may remarry. A legal separation cannot be "converted" to a divorce; the parties must commence a new divorce action if they later choose to end the marriage.