Divorce Law

California Divorce Overview
The prospect of divorce inevitably brings clients to our office with a wide range of emotions. At the Law Offices of JACOBS, ANDERSON, POTTER, & CHAPLIN, LLP, we are very sensitive to those going through a marital breakdown. We understand that some of those reading this have lost what seemed a source of unconditional support, only to be replaced by the frustration of what seems to be hostile or coldly formal legal proceedings.

Do I Need an Attorney for Divorce?
As Chico divorce attorneys, we have handled many contested divorces with competence, compassion and personalized attention. Hiring an attorney early in the process often prevents the mistakes that occur when parties to divorce represent themselves before the court. We know this because we handle many cases in which individuals have tried to handle their divorce themselves and later came to us when they could no longer navigate their way through the legal system. Acquiring legal help early in the process can help avoid many of the mistakes made by individuals  early in the process and the stresses that accompany those mistakes.

Division of Marital Assets
California is a community property state. What this means is that all assets acquired during the marriage, including the increased value of assets brought into the marriage, are considered part of the “marital pot.” Dividing this pot in the event of divorce can be difficult to accomplish fairly without the help of an experienced California divorce lawyer.

At JACOBS, ANDERSON, POTTER & CHAPLIN, LLP, we represent individuals from throughout the Butte County and surrounding areas and provide experienced, specialized legal services related to property division in divorce.

The division of marital assets and debts includes:

  • Business valuations
  • Division of retirement accounts
  • Division of pension plans
  • Division of investment accounts
  • Real property valuation

As a firm, we retain forensic accountants and other professionals to value pension plans, stocks, and stock options, homes, and other real estate, and business ownership interests. While we are empathetic toward our clients, we do not hesitate to deal aggressively with the opposition if the situation requires it. Our goal is to achieve results that are fully in the best interests of our clients.

Spousal Support
Spousal support may be granted when one partner’s income exceeds the others, especially if the party receiving support has less education or earning power. The amount of spousal support depends on many factors. The duration of spousal support depends upon the length of the marriage. Where the marriage is a long-term marriage (10-plus years), support may be granted until death or remarriage.

Settlement vs. Court
California is a no-fault divorce state. Either party may file for divorce for no other reason than irreconcilable differences. Property settlements are not affected by the behavior of either spouse; although child custody and visitation may be. Despite hurt feelings or anger toward the other party, it is in the best interests of both spouses to work out an agreement and avoid divorce litigation.

Settlement affords more control than going to court, where the final decision lies with a judge. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, we will vigorously defend our clients’ interests in court to ensure a fair divorce settlement.

JACOBS, ANDERSON, POTTER & CHAPLIN, LLP often recommends mediation with a neutral third party to work out disagreements, particularly when children are involved. We advise clients on legal strategies and recommendations for workable, out-of-court custody and visitation agreements. To help heal from divorce, we often refer our clients to a network of trusted family counselors.

Contact Us
We want to help. The Law Offices of JACOBS,ANDERSON, POTTER & CHAPLIN, LLP invites you to schedule a consultation at our offices in Philadelphia Square in Chico.


Custody& Visitation
The majority of our clients with child custody and visitation issues are loving and caring parents who want to do what is best for their children, but discussion of best interests can be a contentious and sensitive matter.

JACOBS, ANDERSON, POTTER & CHAPLIN, LLP has guided many clients through fruitful negotiations as well as judicial determinations of custody and visitation rights that often accompany divorce and legal separation. We also provide experienced help obtaining modifications that must be made to existing family court orders because of significant changes in circumstances.

Be assured we will do everything legally possible to advocate vigorously for your interests and protect your and your children's rights. Contact our firm today to discuss your child custody or visitation issue.

The Basics of Parenting Time (Child Custody and Visitation) in California
Sometimes divorcing parents are confused about the legal terminology of custody law. As experienced family law attorneys, we can fully explain your rights in helping you and the other parent shape a workable, flexible and  creative custody agreement that serves the interests of both the children and the adults. We are experienced in negotiating work schedules, school and activities, family holidays, vacations, weekend custody, and any other obstacles to agreement.

Legal custody (California Family Code § 3003) is generally shared by both parents even if the children live primarily with one parent. It refers to the ability to make decisions concerning the health, education and welfare of a minor child.

Physical custody (California Family Code §3004) refers to the actual living arrangement of a child. Often one parent has primary physical custody — the child resides with and is under that parent's supervision most of the time — while the other parent has visitation rights. If the child resides for significant amounts of time in both parents' respective homes, both parents are said to have joint physical custody.

Collaborative Law and Mediation Approaches to Child Custody and Visitation
Parents are free to reach his or her own custody and visitation arrangements through collaborative law or mediation. An amicable agreement is best for all, as it avoids arbitrary decisions by a judge who is unfamiliar with your needs.

The Superior Court of California provides a free mandatory mediation service for parents involved in custody and visitation disputes. We will help you prepare for your mediation session.

Sometimes, however, one party cannot or will not accommodate the other parent's wishes in this emotionally charged process. In these cases, you can feel confident that we will provide aggressive protection of your rights and interests.


Child Support
At JACOBS, ANDERSON, POTTER, & CHAPLIN, LLP, we represent men and women throughout Butte County and the surrounding areas in the negotiating of child support agreements during divorceproceedings, the modifying of prior child support orders, and the establishing of child support in paternityactions.

We do not take your trust lightly.

Ron S. Chaplin will handle your case from start to finish and make sure that no detail is overlooked. We believe these issues are simply too important to be handled in any other way.

Some Child Support Calculation Basics
Child support is usually paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to contribute to the cost of upbringing of the child or children. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child resides the majority of the time. If the child resides an equal amount of time with each parent, the parent with the lower income may still be entitled to child support.

Under California child support law, child support is determined under statewide guidelines. This formula is based on gross incomes of the parents, the amount of time the child spends with the non-custodial parent, the cost of childcare, and certain other factors, such as health insurance and other children living with either parent.

Modifications
In the case of child support modifications, the loss of a job, the evolving needs of growing children, and other events can bring about the need to make changes in the amount of child support after a divorce. If you belive that your financial situation has changed significantly and that a modification is in order, Ron S. Chaplin will work hard to achieve a workable solution for all concerned.


Paternity
Our firm has helped many couples in Butte County and the surrounding areas to obtain definitive answers in paternity cases. As experienced attorneys, we provide a clear and rational approach to your legal problem as well as the emotional detachment and skills necessary to navigate through the court procedures required for paternity determination.

In almost all of the paternity cases we have handled, no doubt exists regarding the identity of the father. That is, paternity actions almost always occur as mere formalities so that other legal proceedings such as child support or child custody determinations can take place.

What is Paternity?
Paternity is defined as the state or condition of being a father. This type of action arises when the parties, who were never legally married to each other, are the parents of a child. Either the mother or the father of the child may file the Petition to Establish Parental Relationship of a child. Once paternity is established, the court will make decisions on the issues of child custody, child support, and child visitation.

If the parties are able, at any time during the action, to reach an agreement with respect to the resolution of these issues, they may execute a Stipulated Judgment of Paternity, submit it to the court for the judge’s signature and entry, and do not need to appear in court. If the parties are cannot reach an agreement, the court will resolve the parties’ differences at a trial, and will issue a Court Judgment of Paternity.

What You Can Do
One of the best steps you can take to preserve your emotional and financial future when facing a paternity-related legal issue is to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Most of our clients feel empowered or at least better informed of their legal options after just the initial consultation.


Spousal Support
At the Law Offices of JACOBS, ANDERSON, POTTER &CHAPLIN, LLP, we represent clients from Butte County and the surrounding areas in the divorce-related matters of spousal support and modifications to support agreements and court orders.

About Spousal Support (Alimony)
The court may order monthly payments by one spouse to support the other spouse pending a divorce or legal separation. Formerly referred to as alimony, spousal support may continue after the conclusion of the divorce, depending on factors outlined in § 4320 of the California Family Code. Spousal support is awarded in addition to any child support.

Either spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support to the other. For couples married fewer than 10 years, the typical length of spousal support to be ordered is one-half the length of the marriage. In long-term marriages (10 years or more), permanent alimony can be awarded (until the supported spouse’s death or remarriage), depending on the circumstances.

In awarding permanent spousal support, the judge must consider many factors, such as each party’s income and earnings; earning capacity; age and health of the parties;obligations and assets of each party; duration of the marriage; needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage;education, job skills or occupation of each party, etc.