Van Brusselen Law, P.C. | Family Law Walnut Creek

Family Law

Our Practice Area

Divorce, Dissolution and Legal Separation

Dissolution of marriage, commonly known as divorce, is the legal process of ending the marriage by agreement or by court decision, affecting division of your property, custody of your children, support for the children and spousal support for the lower earning spouse. If you have decided to end your marriage or relationship, or your partner has told you that he or she has made that decision, it is important that you know what your legal rights are, and what the process of dissolution of marriage or separation may look like in your case.

There are many reasons to consult with a lawyer at the outset of your divorce or separation, so that you can protect your interests, and understand what your options are. If you are in fear for your personal safety, you may need a domestic violence restraining order. If you are concerned about your spouse dissipating assets, you may need a court order prohibiting the other party from selling stocks and closing bank accounts. The dissolution process is complex and emotional. Our firm can help you navigate and get through the process with dignity.

You may need immediate spousal support (also known as alimony) if your spouse has been supporting you while you raised your children. There are many decisions to be made at the end of the marriage, and you need to know how California law applies to the many issues which can arise in your case.


Solving your Family’s Issues Without Court

Family separation and divorce are difficult for all involved. Mediation is a way to make this painful time, less stressful, less antagonistic, and less expensive. Mediation is an alternative approach to the traditional divorce court process. Van Brusselen Law offers mediation services to couples who do not wish to go through the customary process of going to court, obtaining judges’ orders, and inevitable delays.

Our courts operate as an adversarial system. Mediation is the opposite—it is intended to be respectful and collaborative, and is always confidential. Rather than suffering through a series of public hearings or having a public court trial, you meet with Ms.Van Brusselen or Ms. Scramstad, who acts as a neutral third party, using years of experience to help you discuss and settle all of your issues. In addition, the cumbersome paperwork is completed for you by Van Brusselen Law, P.C. Because there are no court calendars involved, your settlement can be achieved expeditiously, which can reduce the cost of your separation or divorce considerably. Only you and your former partner dictate the terms and timing of your separation, allowing you both to move forward in your new lives as individuals.

If there are children involved, amicably working together to settle your differences can have long-lasting beneficial effects. Mediation sets a gentler, more positive, and more respectful tone which can help in your communication with each other, which in turn, can help in co-parenting. Healthier communication greatly lessens the potential for future conflict.

Additionally, the mediation process provides an opportunity to model calm conflict resolution for your children.

After the initial separation, some families are drawn back to court as the children get older, their needs understandably change. The flexibility of mediation helps the parents to meet the changing needs of the children. The traditional process requires one parent take the other parent back to court to attempt to change a court order. Mediation allows you to simply contact Van Brusselen Law, P.C., and arrange for our firm to help you agree on how to best meet the children’s evolving needs—all without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom.

While mediation does offer many benefits, it is not suitable for every case. If your situation involves domestic violence or the hiding of assets, it is likely best left to the traditional court process. For most people, however, it makes good common and economic sense to attempt to resolve your case through mediation before turning to a judge to make decisions for your family.

Child Custody & Child Support

Ongoing child custody cases can present incredibly difficult times for the parents and their children. When the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, they are faced with having the Court impose custody and visitation orders, after the parents have attended a mandatory Mediation and Child Custody Counseling appointment at Family Court Services. Legal advice on preparing for, and attending, the Mediation and Child Custody Counseling appointment is crucial for the parents to understand and navigate the family court system in California.

There are also times when grandparents have the desire to apply to the court for grandparent visitation, and they will be required to attend a Mediation with their grandchild’s parent, prior to seeing the judge. (This is distinguished from the situation where a grandparent decides to apply for legal guardianship, because neither parent is able to care for their children. These cases are handled by the probate court, and not the family court).

The parents are also free to decide how much child support can be paid to the parent with less income and/or the majority of the timeshare with the children. However, if the parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will dictate the amount of child support based on a statewide guideline, determined by a computer program. Contested child support matters can be stressful and require extensive litigation if the parents cannot agree on the proper information to be used to calculate support. Our firm can help you understand the process required with obtaining child support or objecting to a request for child support.

The amount of child support ordered is rarely enough for the supported parent to be comfortable,and is quite often an amount that is a hardship to the supporting parent. When two incomes supported the intact family, splitting those incomes between two new households nearly always will stretch both parents’ household budgets.