Family Law FAQs

Based in Sacramento, California, The Law Offices of Dianne M. Fetzer assists clients throughout Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Sonoma, Solano, Contra Costa, Napa and Yolo Counties with complex dissolution of marriage and divorce, child custody, property and business divisions, adoptions, and paternity.  Below are questions we commonly receive concerning these issues.  To speak with an experienced attorney, contact our office today for an initial consultation. 

Q: How long will my divorce take?
A: In California, all divorces take a minimum of six months and one day from the time the petition for dissolution is served.  If you and your spouse agree on all issues such as property division and custody, or if an agreement can be amicably reached without resorting to litigation, we can help you by preparing all the necessary paperwork during the waiting period.  However, if you and your spouse cannot agree on one or more of these issues and we must resolve them in court, the divorce can take significantly longer.  Our goal is to help you through this process as quickly and efficiently as possible so that you can begin moving forward with your life.

Q: What happens if my spouse and I own a business together?
A: Ideally, we will be able to assist you and your spouse in coming to an agreement on your own.  If that proves impossible, your property will be divided under California's community property laws, under which it is divided equally between the parties.  This includes all of the property you and your spouse acquired during your marriage, including your business.  Only property you obtained before your marriage, after separation or through a gift or inheritance would be considered separate property and yours to keep.  For this reason, particularly in divorces involving large estates and business interests, it is important to obtain representation from an attorney experienced in handling these complex cases.  We consult with a number of industry experts who can accurately valuate your business, as well as other property you own, to ensure a fair division of these assets.

Q: How will the court determine custody?
A: In general, California family court judges determine custody based on what is in the child's best interests.  To make this decision, the judge will consider a number of factors, such as which parent will promote contact with the non-custodial parent, and what custody arrangement will provide the best health, safety, and welfare for the child.

Preferably, you and your spouse will agree on a custody and visitation arrangement.  To encourage this, you will be required to participate in custody mediation if you cannot come to the agreement on your own.  At this mediation, a neutral facilitator will work with you to try to reach an agreement with which you are both satisfied.  If this mediation proves unsuccessful, then the matter will proceed before a judge who will determine custody and visitation. 

Q: What happens if my ex-spouse or I need to move away from the other?
A: In some cases, it is possible to obtain a modification of the parenting plan.  Cases involving parental relocations or "move-aways" are often complex and can even jeopardize the parent-child relationship.  In all custody modification cases, you must show that there has been a significant change in the parties' circumstances and that a change in custody would be in the best interest of the child.  Our goal is to assist you with coming together and agreeing upon a modification in custody to accommodate the change in circumstances.  However, if court proceedings are necessary, we have extensive experience in custody modification litigation, particularly in move-away cases. 

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