Let a Stockton Family Lawyer Identify Solutions to Your Complicated Family and Divorce Matters
The breakdown of a marriage or the emergence of other problems within a family are life-changing events that can generate significant stress. You have to not only determine how to proceed legally, but which issues to prioritize. Your choice of a Stockton family lawyer to guide you through this process is among the most important decisions you can make to protect your interests.
McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau, LLP represents individuals facing these sensitive and complex problems in Stockton and throughout the Central Valley. If you are struggling with difficult family matters, contact our firm today to receive sound legal advice.
Advocacy to Protect Your Future
We emphasize reasonableness and cooperation where possible, but always prepare to aggressively litigate to achieve our clients’ goals when necessary.
Led by highly experienced divorce lawyer John H. McKinley, our firm is well-equipped to represent and support you throughout a divorce at any level of complexity and conflict. We have been providing a full range of family lawyer services to clients for decades.
We have assisted in the process of divorce, child and spousal support, domestic violence, custody, property divisions, and many other family law issues. We understand how important these cases are, especially when children are involved, and do our best to help families reach a mutually beneficial solution when possible.
Balanced, Strategic Representation Backed by Strength in Litigation
We emphasize thorough upfront analysis, careful strategic planning, and diplomacy in our approach to California family law. Ultimately, even intensely disputed issues can be and often are resolved through negotiations or mediation. However, if a more aggressive approach is required to earn the best results for you, we are prepared to bring our full battery of litigation resources to bear in order to achieve your goals.
We have specific strengths in:
- Resolving contested matters of child custody and child support in ways that protect our clients’ most important relationships, parental rights, and financial futures
- Providing skilled, comprehensive representation in high-asset divorce, in which issues such as property distribution, division of business interests, establishment of spousal support, and discovery of hidden assets are often critical
- Anticipating and effectively addressing other legal needs that arise as family situations evolve, such as those associated with your business and your estate plan
- Establishing and helping to uphold grandparents’ rights to a relationship with their grandchildren
These strengths have positioned us as an established resource for individuals with both minimal and massive assets and complications. Our clients travel from all over California for the excellence in legal representation that we can provide.
Stockton Family Lawyers with Breadth and Depth of Experience
At MCJG, our attorneys boast substantial breadth and depth of experience in the family law context. Simply put, we are leading subject matter experts in family law, and have honed our advocacy skills to a fine point through relentless, detail-oriented advocacy in a variety of cases.
We regularly handle both transactional matters (i.e., drafting prenuptial agreements and estate plans) and litigation-related matters (i.e., taking one’s spouse to trial to secure custody over a child).
Our family law services include:
Navigating the Divorce Process
Divorce is a centerpiece of our family law practice, and we have extensive experience helping clients navigate the divorce process, in contested and uncontested actions. Given the inherent conflict and emotional sensitivities associated with a divorce action, mediations is worth pursuing in an attempt to minimize costs and uncertainty, particularly in divorces involving significant assets.
Child Custody and Child Support Disputes
All too often, parties take advantage of divorce to avoid their parental responsibilities (and in the alternative, to impose burdens as a means of exacting “revenge” for the divorce), which often plays out in the child custody and support context.
We work closely with the client to identify factors that could benefit their arguments before a family law judge. Our commitment to comprehensive investigation of the facts gives us the strategic tools we need to secure a favorable outcome for our client.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
Family law judges in California have significant discretion to award spousal support, opening up opportunities for skilled attorneys to persuade the court (based on various statutory factors for the court’s consideration) to increase or decrease spousal support accordingly.
Each Stockton family law attorney is a relentless advocate: pursuing our client’s goals doggedly to ensure that they are granted the spousal support they need to survive and thrive.
Asset division in California follows the community property system, which is relatively straightforward — each spouse is entitled to half of all assets and debts acquired during marriage (aside from separate property that hasn’t been commingled). Where conflict often foments is in the existence of “hidden” or undervalued assets.
California spouses often enter into prenuptial agreements thinking that it will be enforced at a later date, only to find — over the course of divorce proceedings — that the agreement was invalid and unenforceable under the law. We help clients draft and execute airtight prenuptial agreements, and when conflicts over such agreements arise, help them successfully navigate those disputes.
A poor divorce outcome can hurt, but it need not be permanent. California law entitles divorced parties to petition for modification of child support, child custody, and spousal support if they can prove that their circumstances have changed significantly enough to justify such modification.
Paternity actions are critical for ensuring that the biological parents are given their proper rights and responsibilities under California law. Our Stockton family lawyers represent clients in paternity actions (both voluntary and court paternity actions), engaging diplomacy where possible to ensure a quick and favorable resolution to an otherwise complex and potentially time-consuming process.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in California Family Law
Family law can be downright messy. Though standard civil disputes (i.e., contract breach in the business context, personal injury) can be “touchy” from an emotional standpoint — even hostile — they are not usually as problematic as a typical family law dispute. Further, the confusion created by these underlying conflicts may be exacerbated by the fact that family law courts operate with a unique set of procedures and expectations. We offer some answers to common questions below, but as each case is unique, we encourage you to contact a Stockton family law attorney for more personalized answers.
How is paternity established, and what responsibilities does it entail?
Paternity can be established: 1) presumptively, when two married parents have a child together; 2) voluntarily, through the cooperation of both parents who recognize the father as the actual, biological father; and 3) through a contested court paternity action, in which the court will examine the evidence and potentially compel a genetic test to determine the biological father.
Paternity status imposes responsibilities that may include child support payments, child custody and visitation, healthcare insurance and education payments, and more.
Can I petition to modify my child support order after-the-fact?
Yes, though you must be able to prove that your (and/or the other parent’s) financial circumstances are sufficiently changed to justify a modification. It’s also worth noting that the court only has so much leeway — in California, child support payments are assessed on the basis of rather strict statutory formulae that take into account the disparity of income between the two parents, and the disparity in their responsibilities over the child (i.e., how much time they are spending with the child on a regular basis). The court cannot depart from this calculation, which is so exact as to be calculated through computer software.
Petitions to modify should not therefore be attempted unless the financial realities (or the amount of time spent) have changed significantly. For example, if you have changed careers and now earn $10,000 less annually than before, then that will likely have a significant impact on your total child support payment pursuant to the California statutory calculations — it would therefore be worth petitioning for a modification with the help of a Stockton family lawyer.
Under what circumstances is a prenuptial agreement unenforceable?
Prenuptial agreements are generally enforceable in California, except under certain limited circumstances. These exceptions include the following:
- If the agreement includes provisions governing child custody and/or child support payments;
- If there was no independent legal counsel at the time that the agreement was signed;
- If either party did not consent, or was exposed to undue influence, fraud, or duress;
- If the agreement is unconscionable due to the terms unduly favoring the party with greater bargaining power;
- If the agreement violates public policy (i.e., if there it makes one spouse pay the other “fees” for mistakes made during marriage);
- And more.
What does a default judgment mean in the divorce context?
In California, after divorce has been filed, if the non-filing spouse fails to respond with an answer in a timely manner (e.g. within 30 days of having been served with divorce papers), then the court will enter default judgment. Default judgment will take into consideration the facts, as well as the filing party’s arguments.
It’s worth noting that default judgment requires an assessment of the evidence before a decision is made concerning custody, support, and property division. Despite this, it will almost certainly favor the filing party, as the spouse who fails to respond (with an answer to the divorce filing) waives their right to make arguments regarding custody, support, and property division.
Contact MCJG for Family Law Assistance
Whether you are struggling with a divorce, a child custody case, or other family law matter, you should feel confident that you’ll be treated with compassion and respect throughout such a sensitive process.
Though we are located in Stockton, CA, we serve clients throughout the state of California, including Central Valley. For a consultation focused squarely on your needs, we encourage you to contact us online or call (209) 477-8171 to get connected to an experienced Stockton family lawyer at McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau, LLP today.