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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a "Common Law Marriage?"

California does not recognize common law marriages.

In the event of domestic violence, what should a person do?

First and foremost, it is important for the person to get away from the aggressor and in the event of domestic violence, contact the police immediately. Often, local police officers and sheriffs have received special training with respect to domestic violence and can be extremely helpful to a victim. In addition to local law enforcement personnel, city and district attorneys may be very helpful in providing referrals to other local assistance - emergency shelters such as "safe houses," counseling, and legal assistance. Of course, assistance with prosecution is available.
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Can a court order alimony payments after a divorce or separation?

Yes. As part of the judgment of dissolution or legal separation, a court may order one spouse to pay the other alimony.

How long will a spouse have to pay (or be able to receive) alimony?

Depending on the particular circumstances, alimony is ordered to be paid during the time period that the supported spouse is seeking education, training, and marketable job skills in order to establish a career or otherwise become self-supportive. Consideration of the responsibility for providing child care during the early years of a minor child factors into this determination.

If the supported spouse is of advanced age or suffers from a medical problem which would prevent this spouse from obtaining a career (thus preventing him/her from becoming self-supportive), alimony could be "permanent" (but subject to future modification based upon a material change in circumstances).

If there was a long term marriage (in California, for example, a marriage of ten years or longer is considered a long term marriage), a court may have continuing jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support. With continuing jurisdiction, a court may change the amount or duration of alimony payments from one spouse to the other any time in the future (although a material change in circumstances is usually necessary).

In addition, typically a court order for alimony terminates upon the death or remarriage of the supported spouse.

What are some common arrangements for child visitation?

Child visitation, often pursuant to a parenting plan, can take a variety of forms or schedules. Some common arrangements include some of the following provisions:

  1. Alternate weekend visitation with the non-custodial parent, including "three-day holidays"
  2. Mid-week visitation with the non-custodial parent
  3. Sharing of the child during periods of school recess -winter, spring and summer
  4. New Year's Eve, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with one parent or the other in alternate years (click here for a useful article on holiday visitations)
  5. Mother's Day with Mother, Father's Day with Father
  6. Alternate years on the child's birthday
  7. Open telephone contact by the parent who does not have actual physical custody of the child
  8. Exchange of a few days of visitation here and there as mutually agreed without the need for a change or modification of the court order
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