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Family Law

We have extensive experience in family law matters, including divorce, termination of parental rights, adoption, and pre-nuptial agreements.


California is a “no-fault divorce” jurisdiction. A dissolution of marriage can be granted if the court finds that “irreconcilable differences” have caused an irrevocable breakdown of the marriage. In effect, this simply means that a married person who wants to end the marriage can do so, even if the other spouse wants to stay together. Consent of the other party is not necessary. To get a divorce in California, at least one of the spouses has to have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing the divorce petition. You must also live in the county where you file the divorce petition for at least three months before filing. You don’t need to be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident to file for a divorce in California. The residence requirement to file a divorce simply means you were residing or living in California. The court will not require the petitioner or respondent to submit proof of legal status. Further, a social security number is not required.


Proper service of process initially establishes personal jurisdiction of the court over the person served. If the defendant ignores further pleadings or fails to participate in the proceedings, then the court or administrative body may find the defendant in default and award relief to the claimant, petitioner, or plaintiff. Service on a defendant who resides in a country outside the jurisdiction of the Court must comply with special procedures prescribed under the Hague Service Convention if the recipient’s country is a signatory. If the recipient’s country is not a signatory like the Philippines, the service process must be conducted in accordance with the local laws.


Adoption is the legal process of establishing a legal parent-child relationship when the adoptive parent is not the child’s biological or birth parent. That means that once the adoption is final, the adoptive parents have all the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent-child relationship. That new parent-child relationship is permanent and is exactly the same as that of a birth family. An adoptive parent can be a stepparent or domestic partner of one of the birth parents, a relative of the child who has been caring for the child, or someone not related to the child by blood.

Types of Adoptions

Stepparent/domestic partner adoption:

• The spouse or domestic partner of the child’s parent adopts that child.
• The couple must be legally married or registered as domestic partners.
• It is the most common type of adoption.
• It is a little simpler than other types because 1 of the child’s birth parents still remains the child’s parent.

An independent, agency, or international adoption:

• Independent adoption is when no adoption agency or the Department of Social Services is part of the adoption case. In these cases, if the existing and adopting parents agree, the parental rights of the existing parents do not have to be terminated (end).
•Agency adoption is when the California Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency is part of the adoption case.
• International adoption is when the child to be adopted was born in another country.

In all these three types, the court ends the parental rights of the child’s two birth parents, and the adoptive parents become the children’s legal parents.


A prenuptial agreement in California is known as a premarital agreement. It is basically it is an agreement made by an engaged couple that will take effect when they get married. A prenuptial agreement must be in writing. The range of what can be in a prenuptial agreement is flexible and can accommodate most of the individual wants and desires that a married couple may have. On the other hand, there are some strict rules about what cannot be in a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement cannot include (a) custody of the children (this includes things such as in what religion to raise the children, their schooling, etc.); (b) visitation to the children; (c) child support; (d) anything “illegal” (as with most contracts); and (e) anything “unconscionable” (unfair), (f) anything that is thought to encourage divorce. Although most states permit prenuptial agreements to deal with alimony, a court is allowed to invalidate the alimony provisions if the judge believes them to be unjust. This will normally occur in long-term marriages if there is a great disparity between spouses’ incomes and no or little alimony being paid.

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